Karl Vogeley recently contacted me after reading our veterans’ page to request adding his name to our veterans roster as every known Santa Clarita Valley veteran’s name is published in our Signal newspaper on Veterans Day. Spend 30 seconds with Karl and you immediately realize that he is one very proud veteran, so after speaking with Karl on the phone, we met in his home, and let me introduce you to another fine veteran:
High School, College & U.S. Army
Karl J. Vogeley was born April 18, 1954, in Pittsburgh and grew up in Forrest Hills, a Pittsburgh suburb, graduating from Churchill Area High School in June 1972. While in high school, Karl joined its rifle team and earned his letterman’s sweater two years; in Karl’s senior year his team made it to Pennsylvania’s state championship tournament and they came in second place. After high school, Karl attended Penn State for one semester and then he attended Community College of Allegheny County, earning an associate’s degree in political science. Following college, Karl signed up for ROTC in June 1975 at the University of Pittsburgh while earning his bachelor’s degree in political science before enlisting in the U.S. Army. Karl was immediately commissioned 2nd Lieutenant as an ordinance officer on Oct. 7, 1977.
Cannibalization and Reclamation
Karl took basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, during 1975, but after his commission in 1977 Karl reported to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland just north of Baltimore. During World War I, Aberdeen Proving Ground’s primary function was testing and manufacturing chemical war artillery shells but later became an ordinance test facility. In February 1978 Karl received orders for Kitzingen Army Airfield, Germany, as a platoon leader, where he served the next three years. Germany’s Luftwaffe previously used this base for training Nazi pilots for combat in World War II. Karl’s first year there was with the 66th Maintenance Company that had an unusual responsibility of junk yard cannibalization and reclamation of all types of equipment and small arms weaponry. These items were scheduled for re-use with our European allies.
West German Hatred
By 1980, Karl, now a 1st Lieutenant, became known as the “Gun Guy” as his unit was rebuilding M60 tanks and he also became his unit’s pay officer, so he was quite popular among his troops. Periodically, Karl escorted new replacement soldiers for orientation along the East German fence line as a method of illustrating the importance of their presence in West Germany. Karl pointed out the deep hatred held by West German farmers against the U.S.S.R.’s troops who manned gun towers along the East/West border. From time to time those farmers would take pot shots at Soviet gun towers. After all, when the fence line and the Berlin wall were abruptly installed in 1961, German families were instantly divided, galvanizing their resentment and hatred.
During Karl’s service in Germany, he experienced a number of accidental deaths and in one case he participated in an investigation of a PFC (private first class) who was killed in a training exercise with a Light Anti-Tank Weapon (LAW). LAWs were known to malfunction and Karl’s unit’s job was to render them usable, but on this occasion a LAW misfired, tragically killing the young soldier. On another occasion, two PFC’s were testing a LAW but the method was flawed and the rocket was inadvertently fired, blasting a hole right through one soldier’s torso. To Karl’s chagrin, the incident was simply rendered an accident rather focusing on its flawed procedure. Karl noted that, though they were not at war, he recognized that young soldiers were still dying for our country.
Foreign Officer Liaison
Following Karl’s service in Germany, he was reassigned back to Aberdeen Proving Ground to an Officer Advanced Course for six months, and he was next assigned to Fort Carson, Colorado. At Fort Carson, he was promoted to captain and assigned as an assistant maintenance officer for the next year, of which his principle responsibility was evaluating field exercises. Karl also became a foreign officer liaison, providing orientation of American military equipment to military officers of our allies. Next, he was off to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, whose roots go back to 1848 and was named after a War of 1812 hero, Brig. Gen. Eleazar W. Ripley. Karl recalls Camp Ripley’s location was near Charles Lindbergh’s childhood home and how God-awful the mosquitoes were there.
Night Compass Course
Karl J. Vogeley served 20 years with the U.S. Army in a variety of assignments as an active soldier and in the reserves; both active and inactive. During his reserve service years, Karl worked for Pepsi Co. out of Chicago but in 1988 he moved to Saugus and began working for Armored Transport Inc. as director of transportation. Before retiring earlier this year, Karl also worked for the City of Glendale and Republic Services. Participating in ROTC back in 1976 was no doubt the most important time in Karl’s life, for it was there during a compass training course in a severe downpour that he found the love of his life. Fellow University of Pittsburgh student, Mary Killmeyer, was disheveled and lost when Karl found her and took her home. Karl was instantly attracted to Mary and that incident led them to dating and his numerous marriage proposals with the first at a local fair on a Ferris Wheel. She said no, but, undeterred, Karl’s persistence paid off six months later, leading to marriage on a Pittsburgh snowy day on March 4, 1978. Karl’s order to report to Germany advanced their spring wedding plan, but their honeymoon at Florida’s Disney World was just perfect.
1880s Martini-Henry Rifle
These days, Karl and Mary enjoy hiking and walking and of course spending time with their children and two grandchildren. Karl’s primary hobby is making precision bullets, collecting firearms and firing his favorite weapons at our local shooting ranges. His favorite gun is a vintage British Army 1880s Martini-Henry rifle that fires .45 caliber bullets with black powder. It’s noted that this particular rifle saved the bacon of 150 British soldiers who were assaulted by 4,000 Zulu warriors during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, which was depicted in Hollywood’s 1964 movie, “Zulu.” Mary is currently employed in reservations with Princess Cruises. However, they are both seriously considering moving to North Carolina to be near their beloved family. Karl, Thank you for your service to America and for your participation in our Signal newspaper’s veterans page.