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Defense Platoon, TRUST Headquarters

30 April 1948

Anyone entering the main gate of the Miramare Castle grounds is certain to be greeted by one of the most exemplary military policemen ever - sharp, courteous, and six feet of good soldier - a member of the Defense Platoon, commanded by Lt John H. Wallace, of Pittsburgh, Penna.

The platoon, assigned to TRUST Headquarters for administration and to the Provost Marshall [sic] for operations, consists of twenty-nine men when at full strength and its mission is to act as the security element for the castle.

This consists of not only guarding the gates and the castle, but the grounds as well, for, in spite of the guards, unauthorized persons occasionally manage to get in - but not for long.

This small, elastic, efficient force has the happy faculty of keeping out of sight most of the time, and then popping up at the exact time when needed.

The men are carefully selected soldiers, screened by the Provost Marshal.  To be selected for the platoon, the applicant must have no record of venereal disease - incidentally, there hasn't been a case of VD in the ranks for over a year now - and no court record. He must be intelligent, preferable with experience as a military policeman; he must be a sharp soldier too.

If the man is six feet tall or more, that is in his favor, but if he meets all of the other requirements, making him an exceptional soldier, a few inches under two yards doesn't hurt his chance a bit.

Lieutenant Wallace, an MP officer, is a career man himself, coming into the army back in 1939 as a private.  He came up through the ranks and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry. in 1943.  A sharp soldier, he has to date more than fifty months of overseas service, his foreign service reading like a Cook's Tour itinerary: Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany, Corsica, Belgium, and the Free Territory of Trieste.

He came to TRUST last December from the 503rd MPs. then stationed at Leghorn.

His right hand man is S-Sgt. William Park, of Fort Hall, Idaho, who has spent six years in the Army, coming here from the 88th MPs.

The men work six hours on and twenty-four off, but it isn't as simple as it sounds.  They spend an average of two hours a day keeping their equipment up to standard.  They report a whole sixty minutes before going on duty, and, still soldiers, they have inspections, cleaning - you know the rest.

They put in their forty-five hours a week - and like it.  Their morale is high, living like a big family of brothers on the third floor of the TRUST AG building down in Barcola.  They eat at the Headquarters mess.  They have their own laundry system, barber and tailor, and there is the TRUST Tavern a few minutes away by tram or pass bus for off duty time.

To keep the men from growing stale from constant guard, five or six men are rotated with the downtown military police from the 281st every month.  The men are exchanged on a TDY basis.  The CO says this not only gives them a change, but they also have a chance to widen their police experience.

Summer is a busy time for them, for sometimes civilians wander up from the beach into the castle grounds; soldiers bring their friends for a stroll along the paths to admire the gardens and statues come some nice evening.

For would be strollers, it is necessary to secure a permit from the TRUST commandant - and that's easy enough as a rule - but if you take off without necessary papers, the ever watchful men of the defense platoon will catch you just as sure as you're born.

The Blue Devil. Friday, 30 April 1948. p. 3.
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