Veteran Salute: Cold War Vet shares stories of service and life

Veteran Salute

An Army veteran says World War II hadn’t been over for too long, when she signed up to serve.

Roberta Seiwert Lampe said it was difficult to convince her parents to sign the papers, and she said that’s because she wasn’t anywhere near 21 at the time, she was barely 18.

Lampe said she did have a really good journalism teacher who encouraged her to write, and that led her halfway around the world.

“All these bylines,” Women’s Army Corps Veteran Roberta Lampe said.

Lampe’s first bylines appeared in print, in what was the Cheney Sentinel, and that led to so much more of a calling.

“They figured I was too young for public information, I suppose that I wouldn’t know what the heck I was doing,” Lampe said.

Since the Air Force turned her away, she became a soldier.

“This was from the Second Platoon, Company B,” Lampe said.

She was one of 300 women.

“This is the buttons, that they have on the WACS,” Lampe said.

Her decision to serve as part of the Women’s Army Corps, wasn’t okay with her father.

“He said, to me, I will sign your papers, if you don’t like it, don’t ever come crying to me and my answer was don’t worry, I won’t,” Lampe said.

She said she was only gone for seven months, before she returned again and she shared this…

“My Dad was only too proud to go with me and I was in uniform,” Lampe said.

Lampe and one other woman ended up in Public Information training at Fort Slocum, and she said they had to ride a ferry boat to get there.

“Since I had already requested Europe, that’s where I went,” Lampe said.

Once in Frankfurt, the women worked out of the IG Farben Building, one of the few spared during WWII.

“The reason that Frankfurt had been so well rebuilt, is because Eisenhower then used it as his Army headquarters,” Lampe said.

She said you could still see signs of the devastation from WWII.

“There were still pockmarks on the walls, from where the bombs had gone and there was like stucco broke off,” Lampe said.

She said the Cold War was on, which is why the women would be called to stand out on the streets in the middle of the night.

“We had to stop them and make sure there were no dogs with them, because they would be traveling under the cover of darkness, probably just by starlight, and they couldn’t have dogs that would bark and alert the enemy as to where they were,” Lampe said.

She said they were stationed close to the East German border, and the Germans were headed for safety in France.

She said one time she and another woman were also sent on a more than a two day trip, that took them just about three miles from the border.

“That was the scariest night I ever spent in my life, all I could think of was oh my, you never know we would be sitting ducks,” Lampe said.

Their job was to determine how long it would take the families to get there.

“Neither one of us could speak any French, no German, we were winging it,” Lampe said.

She said those types of assignments were always in addition to what she called her real job.

“This is the picture of the young GI, that won the trip, so his wife could come over,” Lampe said.

She wrote the story that documented it all, she said she also met famous people from all over the world, and some who became quite infamous.

“Here I am wearing a creation,” Lampe said.

That’s because her Lieutenant told her when covering anything at the Officer’s Wives Club to always go in civilian clothes.

“That’s all wives of Colonels, and Generals, and Majors, and they will try to pull rank on you, so you write the most about them,” Lampe said.

She said she even figured out how to get them a mention.

“I wrote in there and said, here I was hob knobbing with all these women and they had no idea I was just a PFC,” Lampe said.

She said a big part of her job was to go to the General’s office when a soldier would receive an accommodation.

She also said her Sergeant was always playing pranks on her, so one time she didn’t believe him, that she needed to be in the General’s office.

“I thought I don’t believe him, so I didn’t show up and pretty soon the General’s office called down there and said where is the PFC who is supposed to come up here and get the story,” Lampe said.

Lampe said the Army allowed her to experience so much.

“This was the little church I went to,” Lampe said.

She was also part of an American and German choir.

“Because it was right in amongst where the Germans lived,” Lampe said.

She said she also remembers the candles in the windows at Christmas time.

“That was one of the most memorable Christmas, I have ever had,” Lampe said. “It was so quiet.”

She said she is proud to have been part of the Northern Area Command.

She said although she put aside the public information hat years ago, she didn’t stop writing.

“Compiled, written and edited, by me,” Lampe said.

From the Saint Jo Centennial Book, to novels, to children’s books, even Christmas stories, under the same byline it all started under, Lampe went on to put pen to paper, until she says the pen ran out of ink.

She said thanks to all of those works, she still has publishers calling.

“The last couple I said look, the copy right is still in my name, if you print it and you get a movie contract, then I will go with ya,” Lampe said.

She also laughed about her driver’s training in the Army.

She said she is pretty sure the soldier who trained her lost years of his life.

She said she was always thankful for the training, since she ended up hauling wheat for her husband for 30 years, in a truck just like the one she trained on.

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