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Arendt, Laurie (ed.) / Back from duty 2 : more stories from Ozaukee County's veterans

[Profiles],   pp. 11-148 ff.

Page 13

CSM (ret.), Dennis Ansay
Career Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army
Port Washington native Dennis Ansay was working at the Columbia Garage while he waited for his draft
notice. In 1972, it finally arrived. Though he initially thought he would stop after he fulfilled his two years, Dennis
went on to retire from the Army in March 1994.
I won the lottery in terms of the draft; my number was something like 56 or 57. I thought that going to
Vietnam would be part of the deal, but it wasn't. I never did end up there, I was right at the tail end of the draft
and when I had the "opportunity" to volunteer, it was right at the point when Nixon said he wouldn't send any
more troops over to Vietnam.
I left Port Washington on the same day as Chico Poull. We were on the same flight, but after that we were
split up although we both ended up at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. I hated being there - they didn't call it Ft. Lost-in-the-
Woods for nothing. After basic training, my advanced training kept me right at Ft. Leonard Wood.
Though, to tell you the truth, I was actually pretty indifferent. I figured that since the military had me for two
years, they could pretty much do what they wanted with me. I
remember doing a lot of running there and we had free time at
night (I drank a lot of beer at night).
After AIT, I reported to Ft. Dix and then on to Frankfurt,
Germany. I was sent to Bad Kissingen and I remember thinking,
"Bad - Hmmm. If they start a city's name with bad, that can't
be good."
But it wasn't. I met my wife there. A friend of mine invited me to
celebrate Christmas with him, and she was his landlord's daughter,
although I initially mistook her for the maid.
I was a combat engineer, but other than spending a lot of time
in the field, we did a lot of German American projects. At one point,
we built a soccer field for a local community.
My time was actually up in August 1974, but my first sergeant
convinced me to stay another 10 months. I received an honorable
discharge the following year, went home and worked at Mercury
Marine for awhile. I decided to go back in when they offered to
send me back to Germany. Once I agreed to it, naturally they sent
me back to Ft. Leonard Wood instead as part of the 5th Engineers.
Eventually though, I did get an assignment to Germany and
ended up at Schwetzingen, near Heidelburg. It was a pretty good
assignment, although I spent a lot of time there living in the woods.
They would actually bus our wives out to see us every once in a
while for a family day. I was a platoon sergeant for a float bridge
company.                                                Though he always served with the Army's Combat
Of course, I then received a new assignment. It was back to Ft. Engineers, Dennis had a variety of job duties during
Leonard Wood to be a drill sergeant. It wasn't my choice - in fact, if the three decades he served, including drill sergeant
you put in for drill sergeant, they'd send you to a psychiatrist. It was a pretty intense 12-week course. It wasn't ter-
ribly difficult being a drill sergeant - I think everybody is kind of schizophrenic to some degree. I always thought of
it as a role to be played. The days were long, though. I'd report at 4:30 to 5:00 a.m. and wouldn't get home until 6
or 7 p.m. We'd work 13 weeks and then have two weeks off.
My next assignment took me to Heilbronn, Germany, which was more of an industrial part of the country. That
was a time in my life when we did a lot of recreational travel through Europe. When I look back, it was really more
of a question of "Where didn't we go?" than "Where did we go?"
In 1989, I returned to the United States and became a staff member at West Point in New York. I tried to be
assigned to Marquette University, but that wasn't an option. I became the Regimental Tactical NCO and worked
with the cadets. In late 1991, I was assigned to 3rd Army, in Atlanta, Ga., my family moved to Port Washington and
I become a geographic bachelor, coming home when I could. I had to do a lot of traveling and later on in the year,
went to Muscat, Oman. It was a pretty good deal all around. I lived in the Hotel Intercontinental, received combat
pay and drove a Mercedes jeep. I figured if I was going to be a geographic bachelor, I'd make the best of it.
My last assignment took me back to -where else? - Ft. Leonard Wood as the Command Sergeant Major of
the 554th Engineering Battalion. I retired in 1994 as a command sergeant major and returned home to my wife
and family.

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