Clay County Veterans’ Stories:Corporal LeRoy Backhaus

Corporal LeRoy Backhaus, member of the Constabulary Special Forces, still has his dog tags and knows his number.

He was born in Emmons County, ND on Nov. 2, 1928.  During the war times were hard and his family moved to Oregon. Most of his buddies had enlisted in the service and they talked LeRoy into doing the same. So, in November 1946 in Oregon City, OR he enlisted.  

His training took place at Fort Lewis in Washington. He shipped out to Germany on a troop ship which took nine days to get there and 10 days to get back. He ended his enlistment in September of 1949.

The Constabulary Special Forces was formed in 1946 and ended in 1951. Many of the units which were there after the war had to change their identity in which they were a part of to that of Constabulary Special Forces. Their uniforms and helmets were different.  

They were mostly made up of young men, 18 to 20 years old and had not fought in the war. Germany was split up into four zones. They were there to establish law and order which was almost non existent at that time. They also had authority to do what was necessary in any part of the country they were in.  

The men were to assist the MPs who were part of the infantry. Part of their duty was to search homes for weapons. There was no government to help the people. Germany was full of displaced persons. So when the Constabulary forces came in, the people were thankful and they were well received. For the most part, they drove in jeeps which went much faster than other vehicles; they became known at the bletz police. They called themselves "The Circle C Cowboys."

LeRoy was there for 28 months and basically lived out of his duffel bag. He really got tired of getting shots. The rules were that whenever they entered a different country they received their shots, and they got them again when they left. Being away from home so long was probably the most difficult part of his service, but during that time he managed to go to a few countries such as Istanbul, Turkey, Austria, and France.  

The US script was in high demand and so the counterfeiters were very busy. In order to stop or slow down the counterfeiters, the US would change something on the script about every six months.  When the new script arrived it was unloaded into four semi trucks, and every semi had six Constabulary acting as guards. In order to keep it secure they put the money in only one of the trucks.

After the war Berlin was shut down. They couldn't get any supplies they needed. The United States airlifted supplies to them. The Constabulary acted as guards when the C-47s came in so they could unload quickly the coal, water, food, clothing, and whatever else was needed and take off again.
We invite any veteran who would like to share their story to contact Donna Schafer at 605-624-4819.

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