Fred Harris

Fred Harris wrote:

Thank you for opening this opportunity to provide 1st hand info about APC by those who have served there. When I looked up my name I was astonished to find so much mis-information. Time does that I guess. Anyway, part of the info was correct....I did go to APC from Ft. Monmouth Signal Corps Motion Picture School. My MOS rating was Combat Photographer. And the years of service there was correct.

My duty there was confused with someone else, to wit: I was advanced to E-5 early due to development of a system film inventory  control as well as my other "filming" duties. They included being involved in a "shoot" with the then popular comedian Jonathan Winters and getting to pick him up at his home each day and drive him home after the shoot. (About 1 hour each way). We were making a "Big Picture" training film about  how great trays of Army food was that had been wrapped in the then new Saran Wrap and actually "nuked" for storage. The nuclear "cooking" turned eggs green, steak blue and potatoes red. His job was to sell that idea to our troops in a comedic way. My "shooting" job was in the 2nd unit to supply background.

I was also involved in the 2nd unit of the decommissioning of the USS Wisconsin. I was assigned to Lt. Barry Brown (his father was the producer of the original Sgt Bilko series and we shot many pieces of various films for the Big Picture on the Sgt. Bilko sound stage) as his staff liaison and in that capacity was present for and actively involved in a lot of camera work on Big Picture films including TDY trips to many other military installations such as Ft. Campbell, Ft. Meyer and West Point for a commercial movie in which I was assigned a part as an 1812 soldier.

All in all, we really contributed a great deal to the support and education of our fellow Army members. Getting to work with the likes of Dimitri Tiompkin an other Hollywood  greats only added to our effectiveness. But Astoria was a long way from my Midwest roots and I still, after all these years, don't understand why anyone would want to live in NY.

Thank you for submitting this as a  permanent part of the APC site record. I was there 3 long years.

/s/ Fred Harris, 2nd Signal Platoon, Army Pictorial Center


More memories from Fred Harris:

One of our many assignments was to go to Redstone Arsenal and interview Dr. Werner Von Braun of then recent German rocket fame as the director of the whole program for Germany. As he sat in his office giving us our filmed interview as a recently granted U.S. citizen, he was most polite, heavily accented and one couldn't but help think that while he spoke, there was still a glimmer in his eye for when he designed the infamous V-1 & V-2 rockets for Germany. was however, doing great things for us now (then) so all is well.

We also did filming at the Yume Test Station where Army combat vehicles were tested for heat reaction and operation. (Up to 130 degrees during the day.) In typical Army fashion, the barracks we slept in were NOT air conditioned, but the vehicles were to keep the tests constant. WOW!

We also did some filming at Ft Campbell KY of parachute training. Unhappily the day we were filming and going up with the troops, a bad wind caught parts of the Battalion's men and artillery pieces and blew them all over so that we sadly lost some troops when they landed improperly, and of course much of the artillery. It was a BAD day.


(Harris was mentioned in recollections by Tom Connelly.)

(Posted January 9, updated December 5, 2012, and October 25, 2019.)




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