~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association History Project ~
1978 ~ Battalion Time Line
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III
Corps
720th MP
Battalion
Last Updated   5 November 2013
At the start of the year Battalion HQ Detachment and its letter companies were headquartered subordinate to the III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas.
     The battalion fleet consisted of the standard Army 1/4 ton trucks (Jeep), 1976 Ford Maverick sedans (supervisors and accident investigators), and Kaiser CJ5 Jeeps (K9 and remote area patrol)
 
The volunteer status of members of the battalion for duty with the night Sky Watch Patrol changed to an assigned special duty with flight pay. (for details see 1976 Time Line page.)
 

     The North Fort Hood MP Station was opened in 1978 and 1979 by the 401st MP Company. It was located next to the Corp of Engineers office. It was in an old wooden barracks type building with a single jail cell for any detainees we needed to hold on to in the area. “As road duty on Fort Hood was alternated between the 401st, 410th and 411th, back then, I assume the other companies also patrolled North Fort Hood, but I know it was the 401st that opened it in 1978 because we had to clean the facility, paint it, set up the radio systems we needed for the few cars (jeeps) we used.”

Activities relative to the opening of North Fort Hood MP Station;

     “Police the "brass runners" that were coming into Fort Hood in the 1970's and stealing spent brass cartridges in the range areas from the 2nd Armored Division's testing of the Abrams tank and any war games being held in the range area. Fort hood was wide-open back then, and impossible to restrict everyone from coming on to the base. These brass runners would sneak in, many times using dune buggy type vehicles, and roam the range area looking for brass and metal to steal and sell. We actually found an abandoned jeep in the range area that had been cut in two with saws so they could steal it. We arrested a pair one night after chasing them around the north areas of the fort and they actually fired on us before losing control and crashing into a tree. No one was injured and we towed the vehicle back to the North Fort station. The suspects were eventually released due to our inability to locate a weapon or actually catch them in the act of stealing government property.”

     “Monitor for cattle rustlers - One of our main purposes was to monitor the locations of the roaming cattle herds allowed on the base. Fort Hood was open range and cattlemen had permission to graze their cattle on the base. They cattlemen's association requested assistance from the provost marshal to help them with an epidemic of stolen cattle. I personally created a monitoring board using topographic maps of the fort and we updated it daily with the herd’s locations so we could monitor them. We stopped everyone near any herd for identification purposes. We also had to fill out incident reports for any destroyed (killed) cattle, which happened quite often due to traffic accidents - running into a cow/steer on West Range Road happened too often. Also, another way the herds were thinned, which is a terrible thing to relate, was that when the M1 Abrams tanks showed up at Fort Hood, cows in the range area became a target of a few tank crews. I will never forget writing up an Incident report on a steer that had been blown up, spread over a football field size area with parts hanging from bushes and trees. The cattlemen were reimbursed by the government for any “damage” to their livestock.

     “The reservists and National Guard showed up during the summer, and the North Fort Hood MP Station policed their areas, as needed. They never really caused much of a problem, but we did get complaints from a few of them over errant tear gas canisters, and dead rattlesnakes placed in beds or boots.

     “One evening while patrolling the North Fort Hood area, we observed an obvious young boy on a bicycle purchase a six pack of beer from the Class VI store opened for the reservists, and I assume the other long-term military residents of the North Fort area. Well, this didn't seem right to us, so we pulled our jeep into the parking lot, approached the window (they had a window for service) and proceeded to interrogate the person we had just seen hand the beer to the kid. We asked him if he ever sold beer to minors. Answer - NO. We asked a few more questions and left the parking lot and drove down the street and parked where we could continue to observe the place THINKING we would report this and start an investigation when all of the sudden - two unmarked CID sedans scream into the parking lot where we were, slam on breaks and multiple plain clothes detectives jump out and start screaming at us "What the hell do you think you're doing - you're screwing it all up!". My partner and I were confused at first, and then asked for ID from the loudest screamer and after verifying that he was indeed with CID asked him what he was talking about. He said "We've had that Class VI store under observation for months". Still confused, I said "LOOK - we just observed this guy sell alcohol to a minor". Then, I kid you not, the detective grabbed the front of my fatigues, yanked me closer to him and basically said, rather loudly in my ear, "Yes, we know. We've been investigating this establishment for months and you f**king it up!". He then continued to berate my partner and I for messing with their investigation and told us to get lost after informing us that he would be reporting our screw-up to our superiors. I never heard what happened with their investigation, but I always thought that CID should have informed us that they were working in the area. Needless to say, we did hear an earful from the First Sergeant.” SPC Donald B. Odom, 401st MP Company, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, January 1978-July 1980.

 
October
 
10 October LTC L. E. Wollmering passed command of the Battalion to LTC H. L. Holloway.
 
Photograph Index
401st MP Company
H0047-48
 PFC Donald B. Odom at the Fort Hood Main Gate.
H0049
 PFC Donald B. Odom at the North MP Station.
 
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