US Army units on NATO Countries Batteries
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Early 1980s posted August 2012
- Comments on the above posted March 2021
Controlling "Special" Warheads manned by other NATO troops
- A comment on Richard's article here
- Another comment here May 25,2009
- and from MAJ Bruce E. von Ahlefeldt August 25, 2009
Early 1980s posted August 2012
from Curtis Barrow, CPT, ADA email@example.com
I was assigned to Alpha of the 43rd USAAD as a 2LT from about Jul 82 to Oct 83. A CPT Barnes was the DET commander, and was soon replaced by a CPT Denny Pate. CPT Steve Novak was the Team Commander and later on from about 83-85 was true 52th USAAG (Group) S2, and CPT Reginald Bourgeois was the XO/Crypto Officer. The Det HQ had moved to the Belgian Kaserne either in late 1981 or early 1982.
There was a Corporal O'Donnell as the NCOIC of the Crypto Room that was still at the Alpha Team Building. He was the only CPL I ever met in my four years in the Army: Reggie needed an NCO for the Crytpo Room, not a Spec 4.
In about Oct 83 I was sent to Delta of the 52nd USAAD in Oedingen. They had a drug bust that covered enough personnel to make up a whole Team! I got there in time to help run a TACEVAL Phase 2, the tactical day in the "Field". We had 12 people in the PRP that could work down range with the three officers, including 2LT Mark Crawford who had just arrived in Germany! CPT Steve Cowen was the Team Commander until probably Jul 84. I was a 1LT by then and ran the show for a month before CPT Weston-Smart came in (the Group had a surplus of Captains, so a 1LT couldn't keep be a Team Commander just then). I don't recall his first name. He was originally from Jamacia and was able to make the game of Cricket make sense to me for about 20 minutes?Oedingen was the only one of my three units where the US building was inside the fence. The worst thing about Oedingen was that I lived downtown over the bakery, and I had to leave for PT about 15 minutes before they opened! It sure smelled good while I was leaving.
Right after the TACEVAL was Thanksgiving. The CWO for the Group had talked the Germans into flying him around to all of the units by helicopter, dressed as Santa! This was a big hit with the families, but there were five or six either newborns or under one year olds present at the Thanksgiving Dinner when Santa showed up. He looked around and declared we obviously didn't have enough to do if we had that much time to make babies. I think I took that badly, because I hadn't gotten to sleep since I had gotten to the unit three weeks before. Neither had any of the other 15 people in or out of the PRP.
In Sep 84 I was sent to Holzwickede and Bravo of the 66th USAAD as the Team Commander. Within a month someone had broken into the safe with the Mark Fund (the pay/exchange "Mark Fund" officer was signed for the money) in the office and taken $20,000. It was an inside job and was later found to be the former, retired Team Sergeant and the former Security Sergeant. The Security Sergeant had gone to the PAL Det shortly after the burglary. CID apparently screwed up the chain of custody on the evidence and we heard that they got to keep the money. No one went to trial, anyway. Not a great way to start my new Command! We did pass our NWTI the next spring. It wasn't perfect but no one had passed it on the first try in about two years.
There were a few fun things at Holzwickede: I got married to the sister-in-law of Steve Novak from the A/43rd. She was Canadian, and when we went to get her immigration papers everyone in the consulate in Frankfurt thought she was Dutch. Steve and his wife tried to hook us up on a blind date for the Rhine-In-Flames, but then Steve had to play Reforger VIP Escort, and someone had stay with the missiles with the A side combination! She and I were living together when we moved to Holzwickede and got moved into German provided housing with the rest of the married folks. The Germans only took my single quarters allowance because I was still single, but after we got married I wasn't able to get them to take the married allowance. I tried. Not too hard, but I did try!
We paid for the oil for the furnaces in advance, and then got some money back if we didn't use all we had paid for. Out of nine apartment units in Holzwickede mine was the only one to get money back. My wife was very good about shutting the rolladens (window covers)and turning down the heat at night. Our neighbors weren't, and kept my apartment warm. I was the only one with much German Language at the unit, so putting that with the money back for the oil, a lot of the troops thought I was on the take!!!
We were the most demonstrated site in Europe I was told. Every Saturday morning from about the time the Americans arrived in the 1960's with Special Weapons, there were about four protestors that showed up, rain or shine. They had been there for years at any rate. There would occasionally be more if the weather wasn't good; nothing better to do, I guess. Over Easter we had about hundred people on the other side of our 14" tall white picket fence. (I took a few photos, and the Polizei later told me the suspicious looking ones were their's.) There wasn't any trouble?then. The protestors wanted to plant an "apple tree for peace" down in the launch area. That was a non-starter, but they did plant it in the corner of our front yard. It looked kind of nice, actually. That is when the trouble began. The next Saturday the protestors were pounding on our front door. Since they were not allowed past the driveway this was something important! It took a while to get through their understandably excited German: the apple tree was gone! They thought we had done it, but we hadn't. It turns out that the nursery they got the tree from was owned by the brother of the man in charge of the Standorts Furvautung(?) or German facility engineers for the German Air Force and their properties, like our building. It turns out no one had asked HIM about a tree, so he pulled it up one night and took it back the his brother at the nursery.
Although we were continually short handed, never having more than 20 people, and I think never more than 14 or 15 in the PRP, there were several of the enlisted guys that played NCAA football for a college down in Dortmund. We figured this was the only chance they would ever have to play in the NCAA (I think they mainly scrimmaged, because none of them were enrolled as far as I know) so we always moved the duty rosters around for them.
Shortly before I left in Jul 85 the Polizei found an underground terrorist cache about 10 clicks form the site. There was undeveloped film found, and it resulted in photos of an arms buying trip to the US. The Terrorists were careful to where bandanas so no one could identify them. We knew they were in New Mexico though: the photos of the pickup they were driving around in had nice clearly readable New Mexico plates on it. Go figure. There was an old, backwoods plywood bar with a tin roof and one small smokey window with a neon beer sign in it in one of the photos. We were unable to convince the Polizei Investigator that it was a real bar somewhere in New Mexico. He just knew it was on a Hollywood back lot.
Our emergency destruction plan for the site had to have a rally point. We used the turnaround point on the two mile run for the PT test. It was somewhere a mile or so in front of the US Building, away across the fields and hills we ran through. Thinking about all of the explosives that were going to go off if we had to blow the site, that was not nearly far enough away. Not that it mattered much to me. The Team Commander was suppose to hide behind the berm by the launchers to insure it all blew up without leaving any sensitive bits behind. As one old Sergeant told me: "If you are still alive, look over the berm. If there is a hole, it worked." Hmmm. I am not sure how I felt about those instructions, or part of them, anyway.
I left Germany that summer and got out of the Army in August of 1985. The Army wanted tall, slender poster boys for soldiers, and I don't (and didn't) fit that image. These Air Force Jocks around here turn a bit green when I tell them my last two mile was 11:42, a personal best, through the farmer's field and over the hills in front of the unit. Apparently the Air Force doesn't do two miles? My assistant team commander, Jake R.M. Moon, was a tall, skinny drink of water. He did his two miles in the low 9 minute area. He never broke a sweat and from the waist down he was just a blur.
Curtis Barrow, CPT, ADA firstname.lastname@example.org
A/43rd USAAD Jul 82-Oct 83
D/52nd USAAD Oct 83-Sep 84
B/66th USAAD Sep 84-Jul 85
Comments on the above posted March 2021
from Scott O'Donnell
I was setting up a togetherweserved profile and had to dust off my memory to think back to my time (1982-1984) at 43rd USAAD in Thum “West” Germany. I googled it and Captain Barrows comments came up. I certainly recall him, Captain Pate and a Captain Barnes. Also the team commander Steve Novak. I had to chuckle when early in his commentary he mentioned a Corporal O’Donnell who worked for XO Captain Bourgeois. As he put it:
“There was a Corporal O'Donnell as the NCOIC of the Crypto Room that was still at the Alpha Team Building. He was the only CPL I ever met in my four years in the Army: Reggie needed an NCO for the Crytpo Room, not a Spec 4.”
That corporal was me.
From what I understood, even back then, it was very unusual. I replaced a Sgt Bucao. He was an amazing soldier. When I showed up he said I am leaving a few months and you are next in line. No pressure. Yikes! Right place, right MOS, right time.
The proud infantry grunts and hard corp of engineers who worked down range did not like it one bit when I became a Corporal. They had to wear specialist shields while I, a mere signal corp guy, had the hard strip, but I was the NCOIC.
This tiny microcosm of America was top heavy. Many officers and few enlisted people for them to “manage”. Sometimes my directives would change twice just walking down the short hallway. When it involved me, the XO, Captain Bourgeois, always had the final say. He was, to my benefit, uhm, aggressively confident.
I earned those stripes and had little time to get in trouble. Whenever I did get time away it seldom turned out well. LOL. I redesigned the EAM testing. What was a fill in the blank and multiple choice closed book test became a 100 question open book, site the source exam. I played a key role at TacEval. I responded to an exercise initiated at 3am from the pentagon within one minute. Apparently another unusual accomplishment. But mostly it was tedious work. I was typically on duty 24 hours on and 24 off. I typically worked quite a bit on my days off as well. There really was no place to go nearby.
I fondly remember Thum. This one bar, one church, one bus stop, one phone booth village. I think the owner of the bar was Maria. I remember the Opel dealership with two cars. I swear the same two cars for the full two years I was there. I miss the Belgian chocolate waffles. I digress.
It was a challenging time for me. I learned a lot about myself and the world. Crash course. I am a better man for it.
Anyhow, hopefully you are all healthy and happy.
- Former Corporal Scott O’Donnell.
Richard Scheffler sent the following text [updated Feb 8, 2004] to explain the (to me) confusing situation of U.S. troops controlling the "special" warheads on Nike sites manned by other NATO troops. (Basically I (Ed Thelen) am a techie, very good at electronic and mechanical systems :-)) - totally "out of it" with people organizations. :-((
Feb 8, 2004 Dear Ed: Nothing is forever. After writting to you I revisted Rolf Dieter Goericks web site and found a description of a unit I'd never heard of, the 5th US Artillery Group, composed of all the units I was writting about. It turns out that everything was reorganized in 1972, SASCOM ceased to exist and the 514th and 522nd were disbanded. So, I've incorporated this into my article. I also expanded and clarified some points and added some things that might be of interest to your readers. So there are two sources of confusion, the US Army vs. Host country nomenclature and the reorganization of the entire European structure in 1972. Even I got confused. Please feel free to edit this if it's too much. With thanks for keeping the memory alive. Richard J. Scheffler
Your excellent web site contains some references to the American Army Units stationed with NATO Nike-Hercules Batteries. In the section on German units, you admit there is some confusion because the German units and American units had different names, chain of command and so on. Perhaps this text will help. Nike Battery and Battalion unit designations varied from NATO country to country but the Army system was uniform across Europe. Because my unit, the 35th USAAD, (United States Army Artillery Detachment) supported the German 26th FlaRak Battalion, I'll use it as an example of how the Detachments and Teams operated. While the NATO allies owned the rockets and the conventional warheads mounted on them, the nuclear warheads remained property of the U.S. and custody and control was maintained by the U.S. Army (since the Nike-Herc program was an Army function in the U.S., it was also so in Europe and Turkey). Until 1972, the U.S. Army units were organized as follows: The basic unit was the Team. A Team supported a host country battery. The Team Commander was a 1Lt with usually two but sometimes three lieutenants heading up security and warheading operations. The Team had two own cooks, a Team Sgt., a Team Clerk, at least two specialists or sergeants who were specialists in warheading and a sergeant in charge of the security troops. While the T.O.&E. Was about 35 officers and men, the teams frequently functioned with 25 to 30 due to the manpower requirements of the Vietnam theater. The teams had no organic transportation, were housed separately from the host unit and were supplied through Army channels. The host county manned the kitchen and provided and maintained the Team HQ building. The teams were located about two hours by car from the Detachments of which they were a part. The Teams were usually located on the Kaserne or other facility of the supported Nike- Herc battery. The teams were identified by letters, hence B Team, 35th USAAD, etc. Every facility with nuclear warheads had two fences, an outer fence controlled and secured by the host country and an inner fence controlled and secured by U.S. forces. At night, the area between the fences was patrolled by handlers with dogs and armed guards. The "barns" (we had metal barns as the launching areas in northern Germany were so low that any hole dug immediately filled with water) containing nuclear armed missiles were secured with combination locks for which only the U.S. forces had the combination, half the combination held by officers, half by N.C.O.'s. The warheading building was located within the inner fence and was guarded by U.S. forces when a nuclear weapon was present. The German Air Force was responsible for air defense and Nike-Herc operations in Germany where I served. Any operation involving nuclear weapons was overseen by U.S. forces utilizing strictly enforced "two man" rules. The "fuzes", authentication codes and everything else involving the nuclear warheads were under the control of the U.S. under heavy security. The warheads were secured with PAL, Permissive Action Link, devices that had to be removed before the weapon could be fuzed. The combinations to these devices were not maintained by the Team or Detachment but would have been transmitted from USAEUR in the event of war. The Teams worked closely with the Germans on a daily basis. Most of the officers and a few enlisted men soon learned German and later in my deployment some of the officers had had language school training. Since the Teams had no organic transport and getting vehicles from the Germans was a royal pain, usually POV's were used to and from the housing area to the launch site. There was no BOQ. Married NCO's could occupy German military housing and the E.M.'s occupied a small barracks area at the Team HQ building in the base area. Some enlisted men brought their wives over at their own expense and had housing in the local economy. The Duty was particularly hard on the officers and senior NCO's. Because an officer and NCO had to be on duty 24/7 365 days a year and only two or three officers were assigned to a Team, duty was essentially continuous. During a two-year tour I had no leave and only two three day passes. While I was gone, the other officers pulled 24 on, 24 off. Of course 24 off meant off watch not off duty. This situation may have improved after the Vietnam War was over. I don't know but I thought the duty was pretty grim. The Detachments had a Detachment Commander, a Captain, a Detachment Sgt., Det. Clerk and a Warrant Officer specializing in warheading. A new Lieutenant without the Top Secret clearance necessary to work on the Missiles might be the temporary executive officer. Each Detachment had a Signal Corps communications specialist to operate the radio equipment that served as the main link with SASCOM and hence USAREUR. These specialists were not in the Artillery chain of command, a situation that led to some friction. The Detachment was actually attached to A Team for mess, mail and non-appropriated fund activities such as movies, PX and bar. The detachment served a German Nike-Herc Battalion of four Batteries. Since the Battalion Commander was a Lt. Col. And the Detachment CO a Capt. There was a potential for friction. As far as I knew, this potential was never realized. Some confusion occurs with the 35th USAAD because it had not four but five teams. Teams A (Jever, later Hohenkirchen) through D and E Team in Elsfleth. Thus, this Detachment served two FlaRak Battalions the 24th and the 26th. As far as I know, this was the only Detachment with five teams. Until sometime in the '70's, the Headquarters of the 35th was located at Fliegerhorst Jever although the launch site was far north, almost on the North Sea coast. Later, the Team moved into new quarters in Hohenkichen near the launch site. The CWO would go from Team to Team, generally just prior to an inspection, observing and correcting the Team warheading crew. The Detachment CO weould inspect before the next higher level and occasionally accompany an inspection team from a higher level. The next higher level was the Group. I served with A and B Teams of the 35th USAA Detachment and we in turn belonged to the 552nd USAAG located in Soegel, FRG. This unit had a LtC or Col as CO and provided payroll, adjudant, limited supply and other support. A group covered a broad geographical territory and might include units supporting units in more than one NATO country and field artillery as well as air defense. The next higher level was also called a Group, in my case the 514th USAAG in Monchen-Gladbach, FRG. I had so little contact with this group, except for inspections, I can't honestly say what it did except inspect. I do know it cut my orders for assignment to the 35th USAAD. Finally there was SASCOM, Special Ammunition Support Command, in Heidelberg, FRG. SASCOM had administrative control of all US Army units assigned to NATO forces with nuclear weapons. It was the funnel point for all communications in the nuclear weapons chain of command. Operation Orders, all drills during my tenure, would come down through USAREUR through SASCOM to the Detachments and then to the Teams. SASCOM regularly inspected all the Teams. USAREUR was the next level, it inspected all the Teams as well. There were also occasional inspections run out the US, these were from the facilities that actually built the weapons. Originally, SASCOM units wore the USAREUR patch but a SASCOM patch was authorized about a year after I arrived in Germany (1968). The 552nd and all of its junior units were authorized a distinctive unit insignia or crest shortly before I left the service in 1970. There was. Daily life in a Team involved two activities, securing the launch site and preparing for or suffering the next inspection. The TO&E, training schedule and higher echelons, envisaged a skeleton crew on duty at the launch site during the evening hours and an eight hour day for everyone including an eight hour training schedule with breaks. In reality, the Germans would carry on operations all night, seek entry to the nuclear barns to service the conventional missiles also located there and in general do their thing 24/7. As a result, the security detail would work eight to twelve hours, come off duty, eat, raise some hell in the nearest bar or watch a movie (we did get a new one every night) and sleep. Eight to twelve hours later they would be on duty again. The Teams were inspected at least monthly by one command level or another. The lower the level, the tougher the inspection which covered pre-fire warheading, security and site demolition as well as the usual military Mickey Mouse. In the meanwhile, the Team was also performing its mission and running joint readiness exercises with the Germans. We frequently did joint training warheading operations with the Germans as they were expected to take over the complete operation of the site if the warheads were ever released to them. One of my fellow officers, quite short at the time, was asked on an informal visit by the CO of the 514th how the training schedule was coming along. He answered, "Sir, I haven't followed that damn schedule since I've been Team Commander." He was quite pleased to be relieved of his command a week or so later when, I assume, the Colonel returned to his HQ, stopped fuming and gave the order. Because the Batteries would likely be overrun in the event of war, we were required to be able to deploy explosive demolitions on the all the nukes in two hours or less. This consisted of shaped charges on each warhead section connected by both electrical and det cord detonators back to the guard shack. We practiced this a lot with dummy charges. While the airspace over the launch site was supposed to be a no-fly zone, we were frequently overflown at low altitude by US planes. I was on TDY outside Munich once and ran into a pilot in an O club. I asked him if he knew why they did that and he said, "Sure. You have two hours to blow the site, right? Well, if you don't, we'll come and do it for you." Somehow I didn't feel safer. Most of the Teams I was familiar with were located in very small German towns with few facilities except for a grocery store, a schnell-imbiss or two and a few bars plus a church. The largest town I served in was Jever, Rolf Dieter's hometown, and it had a few more amenities and a really good restaurant. It was quite pretty as well. The quarters in Jever were a disaster, temporary buildings on a German air base that had been built in WWII. The walls were of such poor concrete that they could be literally dug into with a spoon. Made for a terrific weapons room and secure storage area. The launch site was so far from the Team that by regulation, it had to be manned by an NCO and officer for the two man rule. Since the Team HQ had the same requirement (being also the Detachment HQ), keeping the duty roster running was a nightmare. Most of the Officers pulled 60 on, eight or ten off until a waiver was granted. I didn't get a lot of sleep. All the other Teams had modern, purpose built HQ's with a mess hall, offices and barracks room. If I sound a little bitter, I guess I may be. It was mostly cold and dark and wet in Northern Germany. There was little time for R and R and we were constantly undermanned. The peacetime safety rules required that all the personnel have at least a high school diploma. I had some soldiers who had dropped out after the eighth grade. I had one security guard who was illiterate, tough to train that guy. What follows about the organization after 1972 is from Rolf Dieter Goerick's excellent set of web pages.SASCOM and AWSCOM (?) were merged and reorganized in 1972 and all of the Detachments became part of the 5th Artillery Group. The Detachments and Teams in Europe were assigned as follows: The 35th lost Echo Team. I don't know which Detachment got it. The 42nd Artillery Detachment, headquartered in Barnstorf, supported the 25th FlaRak (German) Battallion`s Nike-Hercules missiles. Alpha Team was colocated with the headquarters, while bravo team was 20 kilometers south. The 43rd Artillery Detachment headquarters, in Dueren supported the 13th Belgian Missile Wing. Alpha team was colocated with the detachment headquarters while Bravo team was in Kaster; Charlie team was in Euskirchen and Delta team in Blankenheim. The 51st Artillery Detachment, headquarters on the northwest corner of the German metropolis of Bremen in Adelheide, was the only detachment in the group without an Alpha or Bravo team; the two split off during a Brigade reorganization. Charlie team was in Westercheps, near Oldenburg, and Delta team in nearby Syke, south of Bremen. The 52nd Artillery Detachment, headquartered in Burbach, is close to the 557th Artillery Group headquarters in Herbomseelbach, and about an hour and a half north of Frankfurt. The 66th Artillery Detachment was headquartered in B�ecke, the group headquarters in Bueren. They supported the 21st (German) FlaRak Battalion. They had their own kaserne four kilometers east of the headquarters in the heart of a Belgian training area. The 501st Artillery Detachment, headquartered in Kilianstaetten, was on the north-east section of Frankfurt and was the groups southernmost unit. It supports the 23rd FlaRak Battalion. The 597th Artillery Detachment, in Grefrath with its Alpha team, close to Duesseldorf supported the 9th Belgian missile wing The 509th Artillery Detachment headquartered in Voerden, 50 miles southwest of Bremen, supported the 12th Netherlands Missile Group. Detachment Headquarters and Alpha team were colocated, Bravo team was in Schoeppingen and Charlie team was in Borgholzhausen.
2Lt. George Pavloff (ret) Feb 2009 - notes that it was Delta team at Borgholzhausen. There were Teams in Turkey and Greece as well but I have no information on them. I can only hope that conditions and morale got better after the Vietnam war ended. From reading the descriptions of life under the 5th Arty Group, I sense they were. I made a visit back to Jever and Rodenkirchen in '76 with my wife and revisited Rodenkirchen again in the '90's but by that time the Nike-Herc sites were dismantled and the Kaserne was manned by a skeleton crew, mostly civilian. The Germans had removed any sign that our building was ever occupied by the U.S. Army, they even took down our flagpole. I had lunch that day in the local restaurant where the waitress had not been even been born when I was there. I don't think she knew the American Army had ever been there. I hope that this is useful to you. I kept all my orders from my Army days and can probably provide the names of the CO's of the various Teams, the Detachment and the 552nd if you'd like them. I never took a camera to the launch site so I have no photos of the missiles. I remember some of the specs of the warheads (Y-1 and Y-2) which are probably still classified. Interestingly, the W- 31 warhead was also used as a nuclear demolition with different fusing and safety interlocks of course. Thanks for keeping this story alive. I served for nearly two years at two sites in northern Germany and as far as I can remember no one ever thanked me for helping defend their country or Europe but I'm proud of my military service and feel that we served our country well or, as Milton said, "They also serve, who only stand and wait."
Richard J. Scheffler 1Lt FA (yep, a cannon cocker from Ft. Sill)
A comment on Richard's article here - May 29, 2006
Ed, I just finished reading the account of Richard Scheffler and his take on SASCOM. He was correct on many aspects , but his timeline and some facts were all wrong. I was assigned to Alfa Team, 43rd US Army Artillery Detachment in Duren, Germany in the spring of 1974 as the Team Security Officer , as a 2LT. We were part of the 5th Artillery Group out of Buren, Germany , located 175 miles north of us. In 1974, we were still wearing the Special Ammunition Support Command (SASCOM) patch. We switched over to the USAREUR patch later that year. The switch occurred in 74 not 68. Scheffler stated that SASCOM was in Heidelberg, Germany. Not so. SASCOM HQ was located in Pirmesins, Germany considerably southwest of Heidelberg. USAREUR HQ was and still is in Heid.
He made SASCOM sound like it was ONLY the 5th Artillery Group. That was wrong. When I was at Ft Bliss , Tx before my arriving in Germany, , I had been mistakenly assigned to another artillery group, the 557 in Heerbornseelbach, I was switched to the 5th just before I left Texas. So I know there were at least one more artillery group under SASCOM. He definitely described life in a SASCOM unit accurately. The only thing I can add was the constant fear that anything you touch incorrectly could send you to Ft Leavenworth. I hated that assignment and swore never to go back to a Special Weapons job ever again.
Dennis W. Welch - NewHorizonsHob@aol.com
Air Defense Artillery
Richard Scheffler sent the next day
Ed: Since I left Germany in July of 1970, everything I wrote about the 5th Arty was based on reading other people's writings and was subject to error. I'm sure that if I said that the 5th was formed in '68 that it was a mistake because I was in Germany in '68 and I was part of SASCOM until I left. Likewise, I assumed, incorrectly, that the 5th Arty was the only sucessor to SASCOM.
As to the physical location of SASCOM, Maj Welsh is also probably correct. No one I knew had ever actually been there and we may have said "Heidelberg" simply as shorthand for "way down south somewhere."
As far as his quote, "The only thing I can add was the constant fear that anything you touch incorrectly could send you to Ft Leavenworth." I heartily agree. In addition, there was the fear that if something broke, you'd have to pay for it. With systems costing thousands of dollars, a report of survey could mean you were working for free the rest of your life.
I'm happy to defer to Maj. Welch's personal knowledge and I'm glad he cared enough to correct the record.
Another comment here May 25,2009
from Ron Dodson
... It says that HQ SASCOM was in Heidelberg, probably because that was where USAEUR Hq was. In fact SASCOM was in Frankfurt sharing a building close to the Main PX with Arm Forces Network. It was there in 1966 when I first was assigned to the 5th USAAG and until my PCS from the Army after working at Hq SASCOM from May 69 until Jan 71. Probably moved out with SASCOM & AWSCOM consolidation in 72.
comment by another :-))
from MAJ Bruce E. von Ahlefeldt - August 25, 2009
I have immensely enjoyed your website. It brought back many pleasant memories (and a whole lot of unpleasant ones!). I was Commander of Bravo Team, 35th USAAD in Rodenkirchen from January 1971 until December 1973. I was given command the night before a SASCOM inspection---talk about shivering if your boots. The CO was present the next day for the inspection and he positively shuddered when the inspector asked me how many blacks are in the unit and I replied that I didn't know. He likewise queried me about how many Hispanics I had in the unit and I gave him the same reply. Just as he was about to blister me, I interrupted (and I could see my CO bury his head in his hands) and said, "I don't pay any particular attention to the color of their skin. To me, they are all olive drab with yellow markings." My CO breathed a sigh of relief.
LT Scheffler's description certainly and accurately describes the situation. While I was commander, I rarely ever had a full complement of officers (supposedly me and two others) so the duty roster was quite more than tedious. Because my wife, an Army nurse stationed at the Army Hospital in Bremerhaven, I had quarters there, which meant that when I was the duty officer, I would sleep in the lounge in my sleeping bag. Since my wife was only a 1LT (all the other nurses being CPT's), she was relegated to the shit shifts---graveyard or evening shift. With her schedule and my duty roster we rarely saw each other, which doesn't very much assist in creating connubial bliss. It was fortunate for me that the Detachment CWO lived in Rodenkirchen, and he pulled duty on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Scheffler alluded to a certain degree of conflict between the USA troops and the Host Nation. I think that it was far more prevalent than he projects. My counterpart was a German Air Force major who had nearly 20 years of service, and he was forced to take "suggestions" from a snot-nosed 1LT who had less than two years time in service and was already making more money that he was making. He wasn't very friendly or compliant, and on several occasions I had to "pussy-whip" him by reminding him that unless his crewman were very good shots, he wouldn't shoot down any Soviets planes because I had received orders to remove the warheads from the missiles. That threat never failed to produce what I had desired!
I would disagree with Scheffler that life was equally hard on both the NCO's and Commissioned Officers. The American guardhouse was staffed by three soldiers, one of whom was designated the SCA (Senior Custodial Agent---usually a SP4 but occasionally a SGT). The SCA had the combination to safe containing the codes. The duty officer had his own lock to open in order to gain access to the codes. Thus the "Two-Man Rule". The SCA held the keys to one of the locks of the missile barns, while the other two custodial agents had the combination.
Scheffler was right on the money when he noted that underground silos were out of the question. What really amused me was that we would have to factor in the altitude of the launch site to our missiles---and I fail to see the significance of 6 inches making any difference in the end result!
Life in the Nike-Herc batteries truly was hard---both physically and emotionally. And it was rare that a Team Commander lasted longer than a year. Sooner or later a disaster would occur and the LT would be relieved. At the time I served in the 35th USAAD, the only Air Defense officer in the unit was the Detachment Commander---the four teams were commanded by three Field Artillery officers and one Infantry officer, and much to his dismay, and we ribbed him mercilessly at our monthly Commander's Meetings (as an aside, I believe that Echo Team of the 35th USAAD was transferred to Elsfleth [about the same distance south of the town of Brake as Bravo Team of the 35th is to the north] in the 42d USAAD).
I distinctly remember the last TPI (Technical Proficiency Inspection) that I would have to endure. The men worked their butts off so that I, and the Team, could savor an inspection with a clean slate---NO COMMENTS AND NO DEFICIENCIES. As we breezed through the inspection with nary a hitch, things looked like we would be able to pull the miraculous---almost like making an unassisted triple play in baseball. At the exit summation, the inspection leader regretfully informed us that an inspection of the warhead documents showed that one warhead was RED, and that was immediate cause for an UNSATISFACTORY rating. We were all crushed. Being shot down by a piddling mistake in the records (the warhead in question was immediately inspected and found to be GREEN). I opened the lounge downstairs and informed my troops that all beers were on the house (I then had one of my sergeants drive to Elsfleth to see if there was any beer to spare). Since I was the Duty Officer for that weekend, I was commiserating in my office on Saturday when the phone rang. When I answered, it was the leader of the inspection team, and on their drive back to Frankfurt they discussed this lamentable situation. Because the warhead actually was GREEN, despite the paperwork, the team decided to change their decision from UNSAT to SAT (with one deficiency!). I then had to send one of my NCO's to the Bremerhaven Class 6 store (the liquor store) to get sufficient liquid refreshment for a great celebration!
Scheffler had left the 35th before I assumed command. In 1973, I think it was, a faction of the Bader-Meinhof group attempted to penetrate our missile site. It just so happened that I was actually in our guard house, when the German sentry raised the alarm. I immediately called the German guard house to mobilize the security personnel, and I received in return a scathing reply that this was a sorry-ass time to conduct an exercise (this was about 2300 hrs). I screamed at him that I never prefaced the code-word with "X-ray", which distinguishes a practice exercise. Those few moments allowed the miscreants to escape in the fog which enveloped the launch site.
Scheffler was right on the money when it came to the shoddy construction. I was in our guard house one night and I actually saw the driving rain coming through the walls of the porous "concrete". I submitted a scathing report to USAREUR via the 552d and 514th Groups, and eventually (several years after I left the service) a new and better guard house was built.
MAJ Bruce E. von Ahlefeldt
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Page originated February 6, 2004
Updated Aug 27,2012