Stillwater News Press

Courage Under Fire 2012

July 9, 2012

Courage Under Fire: Herman Allmendinger

German immigrant fought and taught for the US

STILLWATER, Okla. — A German immigrant who made his way to the United States in 1950 started serving the new country he called home just two years later.

Herman Allmendinger was drafted in 1952. He served in the Korean War. However, he had only been a U.S. citizen for two years.

“I had an aunt here and she wanted me to come to the states,” Allmendinger said. “Plus, a friend of mine, his uncle lived in Detroit and he came to visit Germany in ’48, I believe it was, and he too said, ‘Come on over. There’s nothing in Germany going on, so come on to the United States.’”

Allmendinger said everything was very different. The United States was plentiful, he said.

He began his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. After completing training, he attended drill sergeant instructor school.

“It was tough; the discipline and from morning until night you were on the go,” Allmendinger said. “But it was only eight weeks.”

After school, he remained a drill instructor at Fort Leonard Wood until 1954. He then went back to Germany for occupation duty.

This wouldn’t be the last trip to Germany that Allmendinger would make. He would make his way back to his original home country two more times.

Allmendinger went on to West Point as an instructor in armor tactics.

“I was in armored reconnaissance and the cadets, they get their summer training in their sophomore year and each branch was teaching their particular way of doing things,” Allmendinger said.

Allmendinger had his own subjects to teach.

“During the academic year, during the school year, I was teaching map reading and land navigation and in the summer time thats when we were actually in the field with the cadets with hands-on equipment,” Allmendinger said.

After West Point, he made his third trip to Germany where he became an instructor at the 7th Army non-commissioned officers academy from 1963 to 1967.

“That was the oldest one and that was the most prestigious,” Allmendinger said.

After four years, he returned to Stillwater as an adviser to the Army Reserve for a year and a half before serving in Vietnam in January 1969.

“I was ready to go because I was a career soldier and I didn’t want to be known as being the rear echelon,” Allmendinger said.

When he arrived, he was the battalion operations sergeant.

Having no more than five soldiers under him, he made operations and scheduled tactical aspects. He later became a battalion sergeant major over four companies of 800 to 900 people. He served for a year.

When the topic of Vietnam is broached, he said he thinks of those he lost. He said he made friends, but attempted to not get too close for fear of losing them.

“Just being a fellow soldier, if you lose someone, it’s easier than if you would lose a close friend,” Allmendinger said.

After taking R&R on a trip to Hawaii, he received orders upon his return to come back to Oklahoma. He then became the senior enlistment adviser for the Oklahoma National Guard in Oklahoma City for five months. However, his heart was in Stillwater.

“I knew the professor of military science at Oklahoma State and at that time, they were supposed to get a new sergeant major in for OSU and I talked to him and he talked with the commander in Oklahoma City and they agreed to let me come to Stillwater, to OSU, and the sergeant major that was supposed to come to OSU, (took) my place in Oklahoma City,” Allmendinger said. “So, everybody was happy.”

His role lasted four years, afterwhich, he worked for the National Standard Co. in Stillwater. The business made wire for tires and welding. He worked there for 20 years before retiring in 1994.

Allmendinger still has his opinions on the Vietnam War.

“It was not a popular war, but we won,” Allmendinger said. “Militarily, we won in Vietnam.”

But among the bad are still good memories of his overall time served.

“I guess the favorite memory that I have while serving in the military overall is I had a responsibility for a lot of people, in training, at West Point, teaching young officers, developing them ... (making) them better people and just overall, (helping),” Allmendinger said.

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