It's not too often that one gets the privilege to meet a man who was a part of the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) when it all started in 1954. But that day finally happened. On Nov. 4, Glenn Grupe visited his old EPG stomping grounds on Fort Huachuca for the first time since was just a young lieutenant.
Grupe enrolled in the University of Wisconsin, in 1949, which at that time mandated at least two years of Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC).
"I elected to complete an additional two years of ROTC so I could receive the 29 dollar per month stipend, which was a huge sum for a college student," said Grupe. After graduation in April 1954 and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, he shipped off to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey to attend the Signal Officer Basic Course. He was then stationed at Fort Huachuca's EPG from October 1954 until his discharge in April 1956.
While serving at Fort Huachuca, Grupe conducted tests on the teletype machine, which was used to send and receive characters via VHF radio and then punched holes in paper tape.
"I utilized a multitude of jamming techniques on the teletype signals, which were being sent from the Ruby Mountains to the receiving base in the Chiricahua Mountains," said Grupe.
his stint as a tester, he finished his time as the personnel officer.
"Most signal officers are all engineers, but I was an economics major so I was better suited for working in the personnel office," chuckled Grupe.
During his visit to Fort Huachuca, Grupe reminisced about his time at the fort, pointing out buildings that are still intact and in use on Old Post.
"When we arrived the post, we made personal greeting cards to use when we had to conduct a mandatory 'call' to the base Commander, and it was definitely at one of those houses " Grupe recalled while looking at Officer Row, as many call the line of residences that house the high ranking Officers on post. His favorite story was about a fellow lieutenant who was the Officer of the Day (OD).
"At that time the EPG compound was fenced off and locked and the only person with the key was the OD," said Grupe. "One time the OD didn't show up and the EPG employees had to wait hours to be let in, which led to quite the scolding from the Colonel. The OD complained to me in the restroom, and I told him 'You got what you deserved'. Unbeknownst to him, the Colonel was in a stall and heard the entire rant. My immediate supervisor told me I earned a lot of points with the Colonel for that comment." Grupe laughed.
When asked about other memories of EPG, a smile appeared on Grupe's face.
"Finding my best friend, the man who was my best man and I was his best man at his wedding," Grupe said. "We bought a house together right outside of the main gate and rented out a room to two fellow officers who wanted to live off post."
Following his tenure in the military, Grupe moved to Tucson and worked in contracts and finance at Hughes Aircraft Company where he met his wife, Zona.
In 1960, Grupe and his wife moved to California where he worked for Lockheed Martin Corporation as a reliability planning coordinator for Polaris Submarine Missiles and ensured parts were qualified for use following numerous environmental tests, so it reminded him of that when he toured EPG's Environmental Test Facility.
"Although the objectives and processes are quite similar, it is still fascinating to see another environmental test facility and how their tests and tools differ."
Overall, Grupe was pleased with his visit to EPG.
"I had a delightful visit, and it's hard to believe it has been over 60 years since I was here," Grupe said. "Although many things have changed and evolved, the overall mission of the organization remains the same, which is a really neat concept."