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At least twice, the US Army pulled on plumber's coveralls and assisted the local population in the Bad Kissingen area with water issues.  Once, in 1946, when there was too much and again, in 1976, when there was not enough.  Two brief historical footnotes in the long relationship between Americans and Germans in the Rhoen region.
The Saale River, under normal circumstances, tamely winds south through Bad Kissingen.  It is just large enough to accommodate sight seeing boats in modern times and small cargo barges in the 19th century.  It is a picturesque accompaniment to the town.  The late Winter of 1946, however, found the Saale reaching record flood stage as it was swollen with melting snow and uncharacteristically early Spring rains. Bad Kissingen was occupied by US forces although the central part of the town had been reopened to German civil life.  From the hotels that were the billets and office spaces for the Army Air Force units still sorting out in the immediate post war period, they watched the water rise. 

At the high water mark, much of the down town area in the vicinity of Roosevelt Strasse, formerly Adolf Hitler Strasse, and known both before all the renaming and currently as Kurhaus Strasse was flooded as was the Luitpold Park District and Casino on the opposite side of the river.  The main vehicle bridge over the Saale that had been destroyed just prior to the American Army's arrival in 1945 had not yet been repaired, the pedestrian footbridge was intact but the shore access points were well under water. American heavy trucks could still negotiate most of the roads; the Germans relied on row boats.

Once the flood had crested, both the local German fire department and nearby US Army engineers began the slow process of pumping the city dry.  The contributions of the engineers took on special significance because the enlisted man's club, the Town and Country, was located in the Luitpold Park and the basement was fully flooded with the tables and chairs, not to mention the liquor, floating around the first floor!!  By mid March, although there was much cleaning to do, the situation was returning to normal.  Interestingly, major flooding again hit BK only two years ago, however,  the Germans had it well under control without US assistance.

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Jim Culberson sent this image of an unidentified Army Air Corps Lt in Bad Kissingen during the flood of 1946. 
  From Tustin's BK History Book, the pedestrian bridge over the Saale, footings awash in the flood.
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926th Signal Bn history pamphlet captures the efforts to
pump the town dry.
  Same source, looking across the Saale River and into the flooded Luitpold Park district.

Major (Ret) Mike McGehee
Some of you troopers who were in BK in 1976 may remember this: In the town of Sulzdorf, just a small village about 20 kilometers east of Mellrichstadt generally heading towards the border, they developed some sort of water problem and the town basically went dry.  The Eaglehorse commander, LTC Gilbreath, got involved and we were tasked to assist in trucking bulk water in the buffalo trailers and pods to the town. Eaglehorse 6  named me the " PO " on this.  I thought this was fine, then I learned that PO stood for Project Officer and the water mission was my responsibility.  The NCOs, particularly SGT (SGM Ret)  Ken Champion had it fully under control; actually,  about all I had to do was show up and get my picture taken. 

In the photo,  Sulzdorf Burgermeister Kurt Gutzeit is shown in the foreground.  He had a Russian bullet hole thru his left elbow and drove a little red Gogomobile!  Local milk companies also hauled water with the local volunteer fire departments pumping the contents of the buffaloes and the milk trucks and into the Sulzdorf cistern until the water problems were fixed.
In August, once things were back to normal, we were invited to a "Wasserfest" celebration in the town. Burgermeister Gutzeit threw a party for us with SCO  LTC (Ret) Gilbreath and the SXO,  (Col Ret) Joe Driscoll present.  It was in a big tent near the water storage tank.  That's what I recall, can anyone else remember any more details??
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Hauling water to Sulzdorf in 1976,  from left, Burgermeister
Gutzeit, Lt McGeHee and SGT Champion.
  Burgermeister Kurt Gutzeit takes it all in as we pump water into the cistern.
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Here's a good view of the operation as we truck the water to the holding tank. I believe a few beers were tossed our way on that hot Summer afternoon.   This photo really takes me back to that day and the hot summer of 1976. The Support Platoon is off to make another run for water. Does everyone recall those German farm tractors?

*all photos courtesy of Mike McGehee

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