Richard E. Kaehele

Richard E. Kaehele wrote:

What a pleasant surprise it was to happen across the APC website. I was assigned there in 1956, fresh out of the strenuous six month Audio Engineering Course at Fort Monmouth, NJ. A t the time I was a 24-year old Sergeant First Class (SFC, E-6). I lucked out and got the assignment because I was the second highest scorer at the school. The highest scorer in the course was a young Private First Class (PFC E-3), Vic Moore, who was an electronic genius as well as being my best friend.

At the time APC was properly addressed as the "Army Pictorial Center (9440th TU)" on all Special Orders and other formal military correspondence.  "TU," of course, meant Technical Unit.

For quite a while I worked in the film division's control room, and your two photos of the view of the sound stage from there brought back some good and interesting memories. I recall once, while doing a film stirring Phil Silvers, Gary Crosby threw a temper tantrum, laying on the floor, screaming and crying because he thought had been upstaged by another actor. The floor director (an Army Major) tried to console and calm him down as Phil Silvers stood quietly by. Finally. Silvers had enough and grabbed Crosby by the collar and yanked him to his feet, chewed him out for acting like a baby and threatened to report his actions to his dad, Bing Crosby.  Everyone in the control room silently cheered Phil Silvers.  I noted that young Crosby was extremely respectful toward Silvers and the rest of the cast after that incident.

I once traveled with a camera crew to Huntsville, Alabama, to record a training film for the German military about the Redstone missile program. I was not too happy about going there since I had to drive the control room bus to Huntsville. The day before we left APC I had major dental surgery and was trying to live on a milkshake and soup diet, plus painkillers. I was stoned most of the time. The officer-in-charge was a young, totally bald, 2nd lieutenant just out of OCS, whose favorite activity was shooting off toy rockets in the motel parking lot, scaring all the customers.

I started spending my spare time in the radio room in the basement of the main building, across from the 2nd Signal Photo Platoon's office.  There I met William Randolph Hearst III, who was a quiet, professional hard working PFC who never once tried to use his connections to avoid unpleasant duties or to impress his co-workers. In fact, most of the people there had no idea who he really was.

In the Radio Room I started to learn about amateur short-wave radio and the Military Amateur Radio Service (MARS). APC's call sign was AAZWAC, and after I learned Morse I worked MARS stations up and down the east coast, sending, receiving and relaying messages even to missionary stations in various African nations.

An advantage of doing all this voluntary work as Chief Operator of K2WAC and AAZWAC was that for each hour of such work I received X number of "points," and I would take my certificate of "points" out to the military surplus warehouse at Mitchell Air Force Base and use the points to pay for equipment. I bet I was the only SFC in the army to have my own private ticker tape teletype and photo-fax machine, a couple of 16mm sound projectors and a radio-telephone in my car, not to mention several Signal Corps typewriters.

It wasn't mentioned in the website, but APC was also involved in a lot of commercial films (the client was the DoD, I guess). I remember doing audio work on a half-hour entertainment series "The Johnny Applewhite Show". APC was a great place to meet the famous, the near famous and the wannabees of the stage, screen and television.

A good friend of mine was fellow worker, Staff Sergeant Tom Mears. Through him I met many actors (such as the great Mary Martin and her son "Book'em Dano" Charles McArthur) at the many parties Tom was invited to. He always tried to finagle an invitation for me to these parties.

I could ramble on for hours about my time at APC, but the day came when I had to leave. I finished my military career at another great place, the American Forces Korea Network in Seoul, Korea. I had heard their station (Radio Vagabond) in 1950-51 when I was a combat infantryman (5th RCT) in the Korean War, and it was a plum assignment in a peace time Korea.

(Posted July 27, 2009; updated September 14, 2020.)



Richard E. Kaehele
Now using the last name Whitman)
1070 Cypress Court
Los Lunas, New Mexico 87031



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