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Gardell was part of the ROTC program at Iowa State serving as cadet colonel in his senior year. He graduated in December of 1954 and went into the service January 1955. He received his commission when he graduated and went into the Army as a Second Lieutenant
“I’m from New Jersey near Fort Monmouth military base, home of the signal corps,” said Gardell. “I seized the opportunity to go into the signal corps thinking maybe I would get sent home at some point. Initially I did report to Fort Monmouth.”
He stayed at Fort Monmouth for four months of training and then got shipped to Germany assigned to the 142nd armored signal company, part of the second armored division. He was sent to Bad Kreuznach, the headquarters for the second armored division in Germany and was put in charge of the radio platoon. Six months later he was assigned as platoon leader of the operations section, where he coordinated communications for their many maneuvers.
“We went on maneuvers almost every month,” said Gardell. “We had different units that were in outlying cities in Germany. I would make sure that communications were all coordinated.”
One of his fondest memories of his two years in the service is the time he spent bonding with the other men.
“There were six or seven bachelor lieutenants,” said Gardell. “When we could, we would go into town and get dinner. The German food is really delicious. We could get a steak, fried potatoes, bread and butter, a salad and a beer all for about six marks, which is about $1.50. Remember this was 1955.”
The camaraderie was very important to Gardell, who still keeps in touch with some of the other lieutenants from his time in Germany.
Another memory led to a hobby for Gardell. Many of the lieutenants had lugers, which are German pistols which are no longer made. One day, while they were in the forest setting up a communications headquarters, the men put a cigarette in a tree and took turns using the lugers to shoot at it. Gardell missed the cigarette, but hit the tree, and it started his interest in lugers. Over the years he has collected various types and ended up with seven in his collection.
Gardell came home in January of 1957 and got married February 9, 1957. When he returned home he went to work for Shell Oil Company as a geologist. He stayed in the reserves for five or six years as part of his commitment, but he never got called back in. His job with Shell allowed him to travel all over, so he did have to always keep the Army posted what his current address was.
The Buckingham Veterans Club was formed in 2012. They selected a few men who had experience leading and another who had a good war record and had experience doing lectures as the leaders of the group. It’s been very successful and is now up to 40 members, including two ladies. All of the members have served in the military or have been in military or government services, such as the CIA.
The group has a luncheon every quarter and has some kind of a program, usually a guest speaker, either internal or someone from the outside. To celebrate Memorial Day, the group will have a flag raising and a service to honor those who have served. They also have an annual Veterans Day program.
In addition, several of the younger members of the group have been able to help some of the older members give their presentations. They sit down and get the information and tell the stories for the men whose health does not allow them to tell their own stories. It’s a way for the younger men to honor the older men and ensure that their stories are told.
Gardell looks forward to Memorial Day and reflecting on his time in the service with the other men and women who have faithfully served our country.
ABOUT THE BUCKINGHAM
The Buckingham, a Masterpiece Living community, is Houston’s premier life care senior living community located in the heart of the Memorial neighborhood. Situated on a 17-acre site along Buffalo Bayou at 8580 Woodway Drive, The Buckingham offers resort-style services and amenities for active, independent seniors, as well as all levels of health care services on-site at The Plaza at The Buckingham. The community features 205 independent living residences; 42 private assisted living apartments; 16 private memory support apartments; and 60 private skilled nursing suites.
The Buckingham is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit senior living community sponsored by Senior Quality Lifestyles Corporation (SQLC), a Texas-based nonprofit organization that sponsors sister communities Edgemere in Dallas, Querencia at Barton Creek in Austin, The Stayton at Museum Way in Fort Worth, Mirador in Corpus Christi and The Barrington of Carmel in Indianapolis. For information visit www.buckinghamhouston.com, or call (832) 426-1372.
Images courtesy of The Buckingham
Image 1: Gardell (left) discusses maneuver plans with the sergeant.
Image 2: Gardell becomes a cadet colonel for his senior year at Iowa State.
Image 3: Gardell getting his 1st lieutenant bars.
Image 4: The Buckingham Veterans Club when it started in 2012.