John Madden

Our Mom, brother and myself left NYC in late October 1954 on the USS Patch. It was also a troop carrier but we never saw them. It took about two weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean. During that time we were in a hurricane and there was a major operation on a man.

We were on eating schedules and one time Mom hadn’t made the correct time zone change so when we got there for breakfast the sign said our time was already eating and we couldn’t get in. Mom got us something to eat out of vending machines. Shortly afterward a man showed up, asked us what we were doing there “so early?” Boy were we happy but full of junk.

The ocean was so rough they wet down table cloths so our plates wouldn’t slide around. We could see the waves hitting the ship as it rolled  side to side. Thrilling but scary.

Playing around, in our room, I, ten years old, pulled my, 4 year old, brother’s legs out from under him and he cut his head. Bleeding– I took him to get help. Mom had been somewhere and when she got back we were gone. She followed a trail of blood to find us at an aid station. Eleven stitches later he was alright so I got to live for another day.

I don’t remember where or when we docked, in Germany, but I remember my brother dressed up for Halloween on board.

We road a train from there to Wiesbaden. Mom asked a man something and gave him some money, a German I think. Not knowing anything about the exchange rate. It was all the German money she had.


Stephanie Crane Gilmore

We took the Patch over to Germany in 1962!!! I always felt sorry for the Army wives handling their BRATS across the ocean. We missed our dining times twice. Once because we forced our porthole open and slept so well with fresh air. The next day, however, they were swabbing the deck and we got a bucket full of water in our tiny room. They had bingo one night and my 12 year old brother was old enough to go. He won a game and picked out a pearl necklace for my mom. And I remember a movie theater that showed cartoons and a craft room where we made lanyards. My mom got vertigo from rough seas. I had a temperature when we docked, but we all pretended to be 100% so we could just get to my dad without delay. We were boarded onto a bus that took us across the street where we got on an overnight train to Stuttgart.

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