(Updated Feb. 23,2005)
THE 202nd Military Police Company in France (Cold War)
The 202nd MP Company returned to Europe on June 20th 1961 when it was reactivated for service under the command of USAREUR’s VII Corps. It was initially stationed at Poitiers France and was allotted five officers and 140 enlisted men. The three platoons of the company were deployed throughout Western France in support of Communication Zone (COMZ) installations and units.
Their Cold War mission was twofold, first the garrison guard force for numerous Army installations within France and second, the control of escape routes across France for personnel leaving West Germany. In early 1962 the unit strength was increased to 154 enlisted men. Headquarters and Headquarters Platoon was stationed in Poiters France. First Platoon was stationed at Ingrandes at the Quartermaster Supply Depot. Second Platoon was stationed at Chinon, and Third Platoon was stationed at Saumur (Signal Depot).
However, during the early 1960’s the Company restructured and relocated a number of times. The 202nd Headquarters moved to Ingrandes by 1966, and it also divided into detachments A through F. Headquarters and Detachment B were in Ingrandes, Detachment A was in Chinon, and Detachments D, E, and F were in Braconne. Some of the Commanding Officers of the 202nd during this time were: Captain Charles A. Hammacker (1961 – 1963), Captain Jimmy Baskin (1963 – 1964), Captain Uptain (1964 – 1965) and Captain Ferd. C. Meyer (1965 – 1967).
When France announced they would withdraw from NATO and that US forces would be required to leave France, the 202nd began it’s support of Operation Fast Relocation – Line of Communication which moved Army assets out of France. The 202nd joined other MP units in the responsibilities of ensuring safe and orderly transitions. The 202nd directed and escorted convoys out of France and into Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany until spring 1967 when the mission ended. The Company began downsizing and many MPs were reassigned to MP units in West Germany.
The 202nd remained in France until May 1967, when the unit received orders to relocate. Approximately thirty-six MPs of the Company relocated to Fort Sheridan Illinois and were assigned to the Fifth Army, under which it had served in the Italian Campaign during World War II.
1st Lt., Ken Moe, Headquarters Platoon Leader, and Operations Officer for the unit at Ingrandes General Depot (1962 – 1964), gave this description of his time with the unit:
There were 4 platoons in the 202nd MP Co. from 1962-1964 in France. My platoon, HQ was at Ingrandes General Depot near Chatelerault, France about half way between Tours and Portiers, on National Hy. N 10 at the time. The 1st platoon was at Poitiers, the 2nd at Chinon and the 3rd at Samur as I remember. Each platoon had about 40 MPs and our main mission was to be prepared to evacuate the non-combatants from Germany if and when the balloon went up. Most of the enlisted men in my platoon were guys who were called up at the time of the Berlin build up. Others were old timers who had served in the MPs all over the world. We had a great group of soldiers, most of whom had some college education, were sharp in their duties, cared for each other, were competitive in athletics, and performed exceptionally well. Former Captain Ken Moe
Ken reports that the HQ Platoon had a reunion in Florida, and is planning a larger one out west in 2006. In attendance at the Florida reunion was Michel Allard, who was a member of HQ Platoon in 1962/1963, and was their interpreter.
Captain Ferd C. “Buz” Meyer, former Commander of the 202nd related this description of his time with the unit.
I was the Commanding Officer of the 202nd in 1965 and 1966. I arrived in Ingrandes, Frances as a 1st Lieutenant in November 1964 as the Executive Officer. When I arrived, the CO was Captain Uptain. Captain Uptain was promoted to Major in 1965 and moved to Poitier, France as Provost Marshall, Western France. With his departure, I was promoted to Captain and became the CO. The 202 had a security mission in France, with very little police work, and was spread out all over Western France at various Army depots. One interesting side note is that the 202 did guard DeGaule on his visit to Poitier. The unit was issued live rounds upon request of the French. In early 1966, Charles DeGaulle requested that the U.S. Army leave France, and this was underway when I left the Army in August 1966. I was a product of the Army ROTC at the University of Texas, which had one of the only two MP ROTC units in the Army. I was commissioned in 1961, and my active duty was deferred while I attended law school at UT. I could never find a reserve MP unit, so I was allowed to resign my commission in 1969.
Credit and sincere THANKS to my friend Robert "Bob" Gunnarson, a 285th MP CO. veteran, for much of the information presented here.
Please note that Bob is writing the definitive history of the Military Police Corps during the Cold War, and the 202nd MP Co. takes up a number of chapters. I have had the privilege to review portions of it, and I highly recommend that we all buy copies when ready.