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Looking Back to 1956: Atomic-age war logistics exercises held at Camp Roberts 

Looking Back Paso Robles

This look back at Paso Robles history comes from local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. News for this column is selected with the assistance of Research Director Jan Cannon. Newspaper photography by GiGi Green.

Excerpts from Thursday, August 2, 1956 Paso Robles Journal:

Logistical group tackles new exercises

A new-type training exercise, so important to the army’s revised atom-age concept of wartime logistics that a special team of high-ranking officers was sent here from Ft. Bragg, N.C. to administer it, began at Camp Roberts today with the 311th Logistical Command of Los Angeles as the willing “guinea pig.”

“As the largest reserve headquarters in California, the 311th accepts this as both an honor and a challenge,” Brig. Gen. F.C. Mencaccy, the unit’s commander, told Col. Charles S. Hoult, who heads the team of eastern experts. “This should provide an acid test to the new idea of smaller, flexible supply systgems, dispersed to prevent destruction by nuclear weapons.”

The 311th is enjoying its third annual tour of summer field training at Camp Roberts, and its men agree that Paso Robles is “the best town in the valley.”

In wartime the organization would be expanded to some 140,000 personnel in order to support a field army numbering around 400,000 in combat.

Before starting the current Exercise Conarc, the 311th was inspected here by Maj. Gen Riley Ennis, deputy Sixth Army commander, and by Assistant Secretary of the Army Hugh M. Milton II. The latter told General Mencaccy:

“This is the best reserve unit percentage-wise, that I have seen. You have got the know-how.”

The 311th will return its 300 members to the Los Angeles area on August 5. Many of them are recruits garnered during the current drive in which the unit led all Army reserve organizations in the nation.

Chicken rancher hangs self due to poor health

An outstanding World War II veteran and a prominent Atascadero chicken rancher, Nathan Schuster, 37, took his own life late Monday when he hung himself in a chicken house on his three-acre ranch.

Working out in the chicken house most of the day, his wife Emily discovered her husband hanging in the chicken house about 3:10 p.m. Cutting him down she called on E.E. Gillis and his son and Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Otto, both neighbors, for help.

She called the operator and a doctor and the Atascadero fire department arrived at the same time.

On the arrival of Dr. Edward Hughell, Schuster was pronounced dead, but the Atascadero fire department applied a resuscitator for a period of 30 minutes, from 3:28 to 3:46 without result.

Paso Robles history 1956

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Paratroop veteran

A veteran of Army paratroopers who landed in Italy, Schuster was suffering from a mental disorder and had been treated in the Brentwood Veteran’s Hospital last June for injuries suffered during his combat tour.

According to the sheriff’s office, Schuster may have committed suicide because he felt he was not improving.

Leaving a wife and three small children, Shelly, 6, Daniel 4, and Larry 3, he is survived by one sister, Mrs. Rich of San Diego, two brothers, Lester of Long Beach and Lewis Schusterovitz of London, England.

Schuster committed suicide by using a heavy harness rope tied to an I beam on the roof, and then stood on one of the chicken stalls used as a partition in the big chicken house.

Cal Poly student

Before entering the service, Schuster was a student at Cal Poly, and returned to Cal Poly after separation from the Army.

Schuster was born in Dairen, Manchuria on July 11, 1919, while his parents were operating an egg import and export business there.

A resident of the Atascadero area for the past six years, Schuster was a very successful rancher and a member of the Atascadero Post of the VFW.

Services at the Chapel of the Roses are pending notification of relatives.


Read previous Looking Back articles


Thank you to sponsors of Looking Back

Paso Robles Pioneer Museum – Come take a real look back into local Paso Robles history. Open Thursday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 2010 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446, www.pasoroblespioneermuseum.org (805) 239-4556.

Estrella Warbird Museum is an aviation museum dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aircraft, vehicles, and memorabilia. Woodland Auto Display is also open. Hours: Thursday through Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. 4251 Dry Creek Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446, ewarbirds.org, (805) 227-0440.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.