Brief History of the 62nd Military Police Company (Highway Patrol)
Updated November 2011
Formation of the Highway Patrol
Prior to the formation of the 62nd Military Police Highway Patrol Company on 20 September 1951, highway patrol duties in certain U.S. forces occupied areas of Germany (and Austria) were performed by various local Military Police units such as the 202nd MP Co. [Austria], 285th MP Co., 552nd MP Co., and the 572nd MP Co. [Austria]. Certain elements of the 508th, 709th, and the 793rd Military Police Battalions were also involved in these endeavors. Charlie Company of the 508th was stationed at Munich with sub-stations in Chiemsee, Regensburg, and Ingolstadt and has been reported to have performed regular highway patrol duties. They may also have used distinctive markings for their vehicles and duty arm brassards. These duties are reported as having started on 13 December 1948.
On 20 September 1951, the 62nd Military Police Company was reorganized, redesignated as the 62nd Military Police Highway Patrol Company, and allotted to the regular army. The 62nd Highway Patrol was specifically organized as a specialized unit to enforce law and order, provide service to persons in need, control traffic, promote traffic safety, safeguard property, investigate traffic accidents and incidents involving US forces personnel, patrol autobahns and other primary roads, and perform such inter-area escort missions as may be directed by USAREUR headquarters on the highways of the American Zone of Germany.1
Involvement of Brigadier General Norman Schwarzkopf and Influence from the New Jersey State Police
by Major General John L. McKee, USAREUR Provost Marshal, and Brigadier General
USAREUR Deputy Provost Marshal [and father of "Storming Norman"], the unit was organized,
trained and equipped along the lines of outstanding stateside highway patrol
Lieutenant Colonel “Jack” Eaken served as project officer.
Lieutenant Colonel “Jack” Eaken served as project officer.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, affectionately known as “Storming Norman” of Gulf War Fame, in his Autobiography, It Doesn’t Take A Hero,3 recounted about his father, Colonel (later General) Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf. He tells that his father, a West Point graduate had served during WW I and had been Provost Marshal of an occupied German town because he spoke the language. He left the Army after the war, and in 1921 was chosen to organize the New Jersey State Police.
Those early days in New Jersey were the days of prohibition, bootleggers, gangsters, and highwaymen. As he began organizing and establishing the New Jersey State Police unit, approximately half of the fledgling force were mounted on horse back in the southern part of the state where the roads were primitive. The other half of the men were mounted on motorcycles in the north. Patrol automobiles also came into use. He ran the force for 15 years, serving under five governors during some very turbulent politically charged times. The state police was one of the lead investigative agencies in the famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping case during the 1930s. Eventually, a new governor, a political rival of Schwarzkopf declined to reappoint him as head of the state police. Schwarzkopf then narrated the popular weekly Gang Busters radio show of that era.
Col. Schwarzkopf was called back into the Army in 1940, and was later described by his son as one of the Armies most unusual colonels of the era. A commander, whose bulk of actual experience involved commanding not soldiers, but policemen. During World War II, he held several varied positions, which included establishing and delivering military aid to our Soviet allies, and attaché duties in Iran. He also served in Germany, and in 1948 was transferred to the Army’s European Headquarters in Frankfurt to work as Deputy Provost Marshal of the US Forces Military Police. One of his very first tasks was to establish a highway patrol unit to patrol the high-speed autobahns running the length and width of Germany.
It may come as no small surprise, therefore, that the
62nd Military Police Highway Patrol Unit was organized very much along the lines of the New
Jersey State Police force, which Gen. Schwarzkopf had previously commanded. While the rest of the military forces utilized vehicles
painted in the traditional and familiar OD or olive drab military color, the vehicles used by
the Highway Patrol were painted a very distinctive white, with the hoods painted
a non-reflective flat black. Each
car had the distinctive Highway Patrol emblems painted on the front doors.
The emblem, an inverted triangle, was either painted (or later applied as
a decal), yellow in color (usually
reflective in the later years), with a black border surround and contained a black, block-lettered
HP, and three small black stars, one located within each angle formed by the
triangle. The words MILITARY POLICE
completed the front-door paint scheme. The
HP emblems and Military Police Logo were also painted on the front leading edge
of the roofline above the windshield and usually near the bottom edge of the
In addition to the distinctive paint scheme, the later era Highway Patrol vehicles were also equipped with distinctive, eye-catching, blue flashing (almost strobe-like) emergency lights like the European police force vehicles of that era rather than the red used by US police departments. They also contained the European style warbling tone sirens. Similar equipped and distinctively marked motorcycles were also used by the Highway Patrol to carry out their duties.
The HP Emblem
distinctive inverted triangular yellow Highway Patrol emblem was also incorporated into the
unique unit crests worn by members assigned to the 62nd. Highway Patrol unit.
According to recent information from Dr.
Christian Führer, the unit crest was actually designed by
the grandfather of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. (who attended Heidelberg High School
in the late 1940s while his father served as USAREUR Provost Marshal).
The father of the then USAREUR Provost Marshal happened to be a jeweler in New
Jersey and so designed a unit crest for the 62nd HP that more or less resembled the
New Jersey State Police emblem. No doubt, it also had a lot to
do with the fact that our USAREUR Provost Marshal had also been the former
commander of the NJ State Police.
Almost every individual
familiar with the crest used on New Jersey State Police vehicles can easily
discern the origination of the 62nd HP emblem. Incidentally,
Incidentally,Professor Dr. Christian Führer is an individual that has spent considerable time and effort researching and assembling a rather comprehensive history on American forces in his native Mannheim, German. This Mannheim History Project also includes information on the 382nd. MP Battalion.
The distinctive inverted triangular Highway Patrol emblem was also incorporated into a very unique duty brassard worn by members of the unit while on duty. The final version was a white brassard with the yellow HP crest flanked on either side with black letters that stated MP for military police. The first HP brassard did not carry the MP letters. The normal MP brassard, black in color with white MP letters was also known to have been worn by various members of the Highway Patrol. It all depended upon the time frame of the individuals service as well as what may have been available to be issued in supply at that time. Over the years there were also several other changes that one might notice by looking at our collection of photos of the troopers in uniform. Some display white hat bands while others are wearing white hat covers. Some of the earlier photos show white leggings while others will display white boot laces. Some of the lacing may be in very intricate design or pattern while another detachment might not allow that. Some of the individuals wore white pistol lanyards, others did not. Some wore whistles and chains on their uniforms. Some units or detachments specified certain requirements or items while another CO or local Provost Marshal would specifically change the standing orders. Many noticeable changes and individual preferences are noticeable in the various photos.
Small unit. major mission, many duties, responsibilities, and varied assignments
Stars and Stripes Newspaper article in 1958,5 described one of the
frequent and very important
assignments carried out by members of the Highway Patrol Unit.
Alpha Tango Tango was the radio call sign for an Aid (or Assistance) to
Traveler. Aiding travelers in
distress was one of the many functions and duties of the Highway Patrol.
Any motorist in need of assistance, regardless of nationality, could
expect to receive aid from the Highway Patrol Cars.
During its period of operation, the Highway Patrol assisted thousands of
motorists. It was a favorite with Americans and Germans alike.
It received thousands of thank-you letters from Americans and Germans, as
representatives from practically every other country in the world.
Other responsibilities of the Highway Patrol included traffic enforcement, accident investigation, providing escort services, occasional courier duties and money runs, guiding and regulating convoys, promoting safety, and other general military law enforcement duties. The Highway Patrolmen enjoyed excellent relations with their German Police counterparts. German Police Highway Patrol units of the former US Zone borrowed heavily in ideas for equipment and operational techniques from their American colleagues.6
According to reports, the 62nd Military Police Highway Patrol Company never numbered over two hundred and seventy-five men assigned to the unit at any one time. There was only a total of approximately 1070 individuals assigned to highway patrol duties during the official ten year existence of the highway patrol (1948-1958). The USAREUR (U.S. Army Europe) Highway Patrol stations managed to obtain a maximum enforcement effort from the men and vehicles assigned to them. There was a very high esprit de corps shared by all members assigned to the unit. The Highway Patrol Unit controlled the highway traffic of over some 80,000 privately owned vehicles and the thousands of U.S. Forces vehicles utilizing the highways of Länder [states] Hesse, (capitol Wiesbaden); Baden-Württemberg, (capitol Stuttgart); Rhineland-Palatinate [Rhineland-Pfalz], (capitol Mainz); and Bavaria [Bayern], (capitol Munich [München]).
Some have reported that when the Highway Patrol was first formed, it was comprised entirely of experienced Military Police NCOs. As new replacements were gradually assigned to the unit, they received training from these experienced cadre. Other experienced MPs were also transferred from existing Military Police units in the European theatre and some of these men had already performed Highway Patrol duties during the 1948 to 1951 period prior to the formation of the 62nd. Increasingly, over time, more individuals were assigned to the 62nd directly from other units in the US and directly from graduates of the MP school.
The 62nd MP Highway Patrol was considered
to be one of the most elite
and specialized units of the entire Military
Police Corps. A training film
was produced by the Department of the Army that showed the unique duties of the Highway Patrol and featuring the cars,
motorcycles, men on patrol on the autobahn. It was shown as a part of the training in the
basic Military Police School at Fort Gordon, Georgia
during the 1950's. By that time, only the top graduates from the MP
school were considered for assignment to duty with the Army Highway
Patrol in Germany.7
to the Highway Patrol was considered to be a very choice duty assignment.
There was also a Military Police School operated in the European theatre. Located in
the Military Police School.
There was reported to be somewhat of a scarcity of trained military policemen available in the European theatre Increasingly, individuals were also assigned There were aalso E
(1948-1951). individuals were transferred of the earlier A variety of advanced training opportunities were available for personnel. The U.S. Army operated a Military Police school in southern Germany during some of the earlier years of the Highway Patrols existence. German language, and a variety of other specialized courses such as advanced traffic investigation, accident reconstruction, traffic enforcement, and advanced first aid courses were also offered as some of the additional training. Some of our members received all of their MP and HP training in-country.
In 1951, the 62nd Military Police Highway Patrol had its Unit Headquarters located in Heidelberg. It was under the command of the USAREUR Provost Marshal. There were ten small units or detachments located in or near the following areas:
Each of these detachments may also have used sub-stations with the exception of Detachment B at Berlin. These detachments and sub-stations covered other areas of patrol within the local command.
On 20 December 1954, the unit was redesignated as the 62nd Military Police Company [Highway Patrol]. While the Company Headquarters remained at its location in Heidelberg, the unit was restructured with four primary detachments and sub-stations deployed in the following areas:
The detachments remained the same until the 62nd Highway Patrol was inactivated on 20 September 1958. The Highway Patrol stations were strategically located along the autobahn in the American zone much like highway patrol and state police units are often located along toll roads and super highways in the United States. This contributed greatly to the overall efficiency of the organization. During the first three years of its operation, the Highway Patrol issued citations and gave assistance to both US and German vehicle operators. With the gradual development of the occupation toward a friendly defense force, the Highway Patrol gave up its German driver enforcement mission in 1951 and concentrated on the ever-increasing number of American vehicle operators.4
Inactivation - The end of an era
1958, the U.S. Army retired the unit after ten years of distinguished service.
At the time of its inactivation, Brigadier General Edward F. Penaat,
USAREUR Provost Marshal paid a final tribute to the 62nd
Military Police Highway Patrol Company upon its passing from the USAREUR scene.
“This unit was organized for a specific purpose
- that of traffic accident
prevention, enforcement, and assistance.
The operations of this unit over the past ten years have been marked by
outstanding police service, not only to the Americans and Germans, but also to
other motorists traveling through our area of responsibility.
Through the efforts of the men of this organization, working in
cooperation with their German colleagues, the highways of Germany have been made
safer for both private and military vehicle operations.”8
At the time of inactivation, Highway Patrol detachment commanders emphasized that although the 62nd Highway Patrol Unit was being inactivated, its tradition to service and assistance would continue. It was explained that many of the unit’s existing personnel, vehicles, and equipment were to be redeployed to other military police units within the area command. This would provide a nucleus that would be augmented with the men and equipment from those other military police units to continue to provide the duties, service, and responses formerly performed by members of the 62nd Highway Patrol Unit.
That premise however, failed to be fully substantiated. Personal observation noted that it actually depended upon the new unit’s location, mission, priorities, and the mindset of it’s Officers and NCOs. Frequently the existing units were already understaffed, and new missions and priorities often kept regular patrol of the autobahns & highways to an absolute minimum.9
The 62nd Highway Patrol was a very special unit. The distinctive "White Mice" [or "Die Weißen Mäuse"] as the patrol vehicles were frequently called will fondly long be remembered in the minds and hearts of many Americans and Germans. While the Highway Patrol was certainly not the first U.S. forces military unit to enforce law and order, to provide service to persons in need, to control traffic, to safeguard lives and property, or to patrol autobahns and other primary and secondary roads, they were the only unit created specifically to carry out that special mission. The duties, training, and experiences were very unique. I am sure that my fellow veterans of the Highway Patrol would agree with my statement that the time spent with the Highway Patrol was a memorable part of our lives. It was the best duty of my entire military experience. Fellow troopers of the Highway Patrol, I salute you.
For more information on the role of
Brigadier General Norman Schwarzkopf’s role in the, Lindbergh case visit http://www.lindberghtrial.com/.
Click on enter. Also, click on The Case for a brief biography (reprinted
Col. Norman Schwarzkopf, superintendent of the N.J. State Police, played a key role in the Lindbergh kidnapping investigation and the Hauptmann trial. A West Point graduate and WWI veteran, he organized the State Police in the 1920s. He returned to military service in WWII, rising to the rank of Brigadier General. Later he served abroad and organized the police force of Iran, then an ally of the U.S. There his son, Norman Jr., got his first taste of life in the Middle East. The younger Schwarzkopf, also a West Pointer, won honor and International fame by commanding combat forces in Kuwait and Iraq during the Gulf War (1991). The elder Schwarzkopf died in 1958.
Lineage and Honors
62nd Military Police Company
Constituted 30 Nov. 1943, in the Army of the United States as the 62nd Military Police Company. Activated 1 Dec. 43, in North Africa.
Reorganized and redesignated 20 June 1948 as 62nd Military Police Service Company.
Reorganized and redesignated 20 September 1951 as 62nd Military Police Highway Patrol Company, and allocated to the Regular Army.
Redesignated 20 September 1954 as 62nd Military Police Company [Highway Patrol].
Inactivated 20 September 1958 in Germany.
Activated 25 March 1964 in Ryukyus Islands (Okinawa) as 62nd Military Police Company [Service].
Inactivated 30 Jun. 74 in Okinawa.
CAMPAIGN PARTICIPATION CREDIT
Law Enforcement Efforts Prior to the Highway Patrol. The Constabulary.
To fully comprehend the history, duties, and responsibilities of the U.S. Army Highway Patrol in Germany, one needs to gain a perspective of the European continent following World War II. War had again devastated much of the continent. Major cities were in shambles, and many rural areas were badly ravaged. Travel between most areas was difficult, if at all possible. Civil government was totally fragmented with no local governing authority. Europe's law enforcement agencies had been left in shambles. The country was in desperate need of help. Power was vested in the occupying forces.
Much of the German economy, manufacturing capabilities, and local governmental infrastructure were in ruins. Following the end of the war, the people of Germany had no leadership, no law or order, and there were nearly a million displaced persons. On 5 June 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and France assumed supreme authority in the territory of the former Reich. The country was divided into four occupational zones. Berlin, the capitol, was divided into four sectors. Normal local governmental duties and responsibilities, including law enforcement became the obligation of the occupying forces. Thus, throughout much of Europe, this law enforcement function was vested in the control of American, UK (British & Canadian), Soviet (Russian), and French military forces.
The United States occupied zone in Germany contained over 40,000 square miles of area, and included nearly 1,400 miles of international and inter-zonal boundaries, extending from Austria in the South to the British zone in the North, and from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Zone in the East to the Rhine River and the French zone in the West. This area, approximately the size of Pennsylvania, had similar contours, with flat lands, hills, mountains, and forests, crisscrossed by many streams. The entire Zone was covered by a network of narrow and winding roads. A few four-lane express highways (autobahns) also existed.
More than sixteen million German people lived in this area, which included many cities of considerable size. More than half a million displaced and undocumented persons also existed in the US occupied zone. The lawless elements among the displaced persons had to be segregated and controlled. Criminals, smugglers, black marketers, thieves, war criminals, and others simply seeking a better life in the US sector did their best to evade U.S. sentries and patrols. Some of these individuals were willing to pay almost any price for illegal concessions in crossing the border, or for the ability to deal in the black market in which huge fortunes could be made.
To establish and maintain occupational control, and to accomplish the objectives of the United States Government in its occupied zone of Germany, it was necessary for US forces to control the borders, provide law enforcement services, perform the duties of passport control and customs inspection, maintain a high level of military and civil security, keep the peace, and maintain general order. As an immediate measure, the European Theater Headquarters was tasked to consider the feasibility of organizing the major portion of the occupational forces into an efficient military police force on the model of state police or constabulary in the United States. Older, more experienced combat veterans were leaving the zone of occupation for the US.
At the end of October 1945, General Eisenhower, then Theater Commander, announced that the population of the United States Zone of Germany would ultimately be controlled by a super-police force or constabulary. In early November, the strength of the proposed constabulary was announced as 38,000. Final decisions reduced the authorized strength to 32,750. Planning was well advanced by the end of 1945, when the European Theater Headquarters notified the War Department that the constabulary would be organized as an elite force, composed of the highest caliber personnel obtainable under the voluntary re-enlistment program, and that it would be equipped with an efficient communications network, sufficient vehicles and liaison airplanes to make it highly mobile, and the most modern weapons. During the paper stage, the organization was known by a series of names; "State Police" was discarded for "State Constabulary". Then it was thought that "State" would be confusing, although the main United States Zone of Germany had been divided, for purposes of civil administration, into three states, or Länder. As the organization emerged from the planning stage, it as known as the "Zone Constabulary," but before it became operational it was christened "United States Constabulary".
The Constabulary was rapidly organized and deployed.
1 July 1946, the Constabulary troopers replaced the soldiers of the 1st, 3d, and 9th
Infantry Divisions at the many static control posts along the
borders. The Constabulary
also set up a system of patrols throughout the entire area and along
the borders. The United
States Constabulary was also used as a deterrent to Communism in both Germany
and Austria. They were among the first “border guards” and have also
been described as the first “Cold War Warriors”. Although
the troopers were primarily concerned with police type work, they were equipped
and trained to fight a delaying action against invading forces. Frequent
alerts kept them prepared.
Almost from the very beginning, the Soviet Union had began a systematic conversion of the Soviet occupied areas into a communist dictatorship. An “iron curtain” had descended in front of the Soviet occupied area. The “cold war” began manifesting itself in earnest between the "eastern" Soviet powers, and the "western" "trilateral" powers in occupied Germany (Britain, France, and the USA). Tensions were further aroused in 1948-49 when the Russians attempted to blockade Berlin (which was ruled jointly by the four powers) in a futile effort to drive out the other allied powers. This resulted in the famous Berlin airlift.
Early in the planning stage the need for a Constabulary School became evident. The Constabulary trooper needed to know, not only the customary duties of a soldier, but also police methods, how and when to make arrests, and how to deal with a foreign population. The curriculum for Constabulary officers and noncommissioned officers included instruction in the geography, history, and politics of Germany. The technical and specialist training for the trooper included the theory and practice of criminal investigation, police records, self-defense, and the apprehension of wanted persons. By the end of 1946, 5,700 officers and enlisted students had been graduated from the school.
The uniform of the Constabulary trooper was designed both to make him easily recognizable and to distinguish him as a member of an elite force. The "Lightning Bolt" shoulder patch in yellow, blue, and red combined the colors of the cavalry, infantry, and artillery. To make the troops more distinctive they were given bright golden yellow scarves, combat boots with the smooth outer surface, and helmet liners bearing the Constabulary insignia and yellow and blue stripes. The Constabulary shoulder patch and helmet insignia combined the gold of the cavalry as background color, the blue of the infantry and a central blue "C" crossed with a lightning bolt of artillery red. The troopers also wore Sam Browne Belts, yellow leather shoelaces, yellow gloves and frequently carried Thompson Sub-Machine Guns. The appearance of the troopers commanded instant respect.
The Constabulary jeeps were also painted with yellow and blue stripes with large Constabulary emblems. Germans named the force the "Blitz Polizei," or lightning police, as they dashed over the 40,000 square mile area of the American Zone in their brightly decorated jeeps, armored cars, and tanks. An armored car would serve as a command and support vehicle in case of emergency. A mobile reserve of one company equipped with light tanks was established in each Constabulary regiment. They also used motorcycles for the control of traffic on the super-highways, and horses for patrolling difficult terrain along the borders. The horse units were broken up in 1951.
Like the State police units in the United States, the Constabulary patrols worked closely with the municipal, rural, and border police, even though the local German police were a part of the administration of an occupied country. The Constabulary troopers become acquainted with the local policemen, received reports from them of what occurred since the last visit, and work out with them methods of trapping criminals and of forestalling possible disturbances. The Constabulary patrols frequently carried a German police officer with them while on their patrols.
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany was adopted in 1949. In July 1951, the United Kingdom, France and the United States declared that Germany was no longer a war enemy. The Soviet Union did the same on 25 January 1955. The Federal Republic’s sovereignty was restored on 5 May 1955 which coincided with its accession to NATO. As these events took place, Germany became responsible for its own law enforcement efforts. The United States Constabulary was phased out in December 1952 having accomplished its mission. It had been truly one of the elite forces of the U. S. Army and lived up to its motto, "Mobility, Vigilance, Justice".10
The Highway Patrol became an active unit of the Regular Army in 1951 shortly before the Constabulary was "phased" out.
Both the Constabulary and the Highway Patrol had distinctively marked vehicles and uniforms.
Both units had specifically defined roles regarding enforcing law and order, providing service to persons in need, controlling traffic, promoting traffic safety, investigating incidents involving US forces personnel, and patrolling autobahns and other primary roads.
Members of the Constabulary frequently wore MP brassards while on duty as directed by unit policy, although the Constabulary was not normally thought of as a military police unit.
It must be pointed out that the number of Constabulary troopers - 32,750 was a much larger force than the Highway Patrol (never more than two hundred and seventy-five men at any one time).
Both elite units were eventually phased out. Unfortunately, nothing great lasts forever. History often repeats itself. We learn from each other, just as we learn from doing.
Links to further information concerning U.S. Army WWII campaign operations (62nd MP Co. Campaign Participation Credit) may be found at:
possible links of interest:
German Autobahn Page - English version. http://www.autobahn-online.de/index_e.html. This page shows past, present and future of the German autobahn system. Also lets you take a look at abandoned roads (some of the ones we patrolled). Deutsch version - www.autobahn-online.de
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