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The Eaglehorse Border Surveillance Mission
Bob Stefanowicz


 


From the first days of the Cold War to the fall of the border barrier system,  the US Army played a key role in the surveillance of the internal German border.  This forty year mission was assigned to the regimental and select divisional cavalry squadrons of USAREUR and was accomplished in addition to all  normal training and readiness activities of any Army unit.  The visible presence on the border performed both an intelligence gathering mission and  of equal importance,  provided a daily reminder  to both Western Europe and the nations of the Warsaw Pact,  of the commitment of the United States to the peace and security of the democratic NATO members.

The Eaglehorse Squadron performed this mission from 1972 until 1990 along approximately 130 kilometers of border in the northern region of the German state of Bavaria.  The border ran along the former state boundaries between Bavaria, Federal Republic of Germany and Thuringia,  in the Democratic German Republic.  To the northwest, at the boundary of West German state of Hesse, the border mission was assumed by the 1/11 ACR.  In the south, the mission passed off to troopers of the 3-7th Cavalry from Schweinfurt.

Over the years, changes occurred in the mission.  Boundaries were adjusted, the range of the squadron responsibility sometimes grew or contracted.  Command decisions brought different units into the mix.  New equipment, updated border observation facilities and improvements at the border camp enhanced both intelligence gathering and quality of life for the troopers.  The single constant was the resolute determination of the squadron members to professionally accomplish the mission.


 

 

2 -14th ACR on the Border

 


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War in Korea, the very first days of the Cold War in Germany and a major concern that fighting could again erupt in central Europe, this was the background to the end of the Constabulary period and beginning of the U.S. Army surveillance mission on the East-West border. Various squadron commanders and troopers have stepped forward to recall the mission from their period at Daley Barracks.
 

 

 

     
 
This is the tower by Munnerstadt where we had our forward patrol base on the border. It was about mid way along the route and also served as a static OP. From here, two patrols went out each day at various times, one to the north and one to the south. Each patrol had a scout jeep and a machinegun jeep. Upon return, a hot meal and maintenance. A camp site had been established.
--LTC (Ret) Richard D. Moore
 
A typical border scene in the woods, the areas were not well marked but at least here, a wood barrier is set up as a warning along a trail.
--LTC (Ret) Richard D. Moore
 
         

When the barrier fence was little more than barbed wire strung along fence posts, the squadron was well aware of the Soviet regiment in Meiningen and the "Meiningen Gap". While not a prime avenue of attack to the West, it nevertheless was a corridor of sufficient width to accommodate at least a secondary armor thrust. Particularly after only a few kilometers into West Germany, this avenue opened into broad, rolling farm land, ideal for massed armor in the advance. The terrain ran all the way to Bad Kissingen, Schweinfurt and Wurzberg / Frankfurt. The 2 - 14 ACR identified and staffed observation and listening points both on the immediate border and in depth running southeast along Highway 19.

Ed Keaney, Bobby Bush, CWO 4 (Ret) Jake Hulen, Robert Stauffer, Edward Bowmann and LTC (Ret) Richard Moore recall the very early days along the border.

Ed Keaney 1950-1953:

"I was there right at the beginning, the move from Schweinfurt and the first days on the border. I had been with the scouts as a sergeant and then Platoon Sergeant so I spent a lot of time on the border. Two ham sandwiches in a bag and maybe a K Ration, out the gate and off to the tower by Munnerstadt which was our start point, turn on to the trail and have a good day! We would patrol all the way down to Konigshofen and back. The border was little more than a plowed strip and a few stakes, it was easy to make a mistake. One jeep with a brand new radio was captured on the DDR side, everyone and everything was returned within eight hours .... except for that radio. I recall seeing the East Germans and maybe Russians on the other side, one guy once aimed his rifle at me but his patrol leader intervened. I think I left a few cigarettes for that guy as we moved on."

 

 

     
 
Here I am, 1Lt. Richard D. Moore, 3rd Plt., Co. D in typical winter garb on the border. This was the typical uniform, bunny hat, parka and Mickey Mouse boots. 
--LTC (Ret) Richard D. Moore
 
Here is the border camp by the tower near Munnerstadt in 1951 or 52; time out for a little card game.
--Ed Keaney
 
         

"I recall some incidents of gun fire on the border; maybe it was hunters, maybe not .... I don't think the shots were aimed, maybe just harassment. I remember we were short of officers in the units, Korea had taken its toll on the units so sometimes quality control was in rough shape. I am pretty sure that on some of the cold snowy days, more than a few patrols were checking out local bakeries. That wasn't too bad, checking out the Gast houses and the bars .... well .... that's another matter. We were not using Wollbach at the time, such as it was, our patrol base was the tower by Munnerstadt."

Bobby Bush 1951-53:

"I was in the Tank Company and then Recon Company 'E' and finally Headquarters Company during those early days in Bad Kissingen. We took over the border responsibilities from one of the Constabulary cavalry units as soon as we moved to Daley Barracks. There still were sizable stretches of border with no fences up, particularly in the woods. The East Germans and the Russians were always seen working on getting the fences up in the open fields and near the towns, the refugee problems, at least in the border area seemed over."

"I recall the patrolling as being handled by a Recon Company with a platoon of the Tank Company attached as the reaction force. The only guys going out to the border were the scouts and their accompanying machine gun jeeps. All this was done from the barracks and the patrols sometimes lasted as long as 36 hours to cover the allocated area. The area by Wollbach (he may have meant Munnerstadt) evolved as a patrol base used during the Summer for scouts to camp on the long missions. A radio relay was also set up there on occasion."

CWO 4 (Ret) Jake Hulen 1951 - 1954:

“I was a platoon leader with the 2-14 ACR in Germany from 1951 - 1954 and recall the border mission. Something makes me think that two platoons were sent to the Munnerstadt camp, one would take the north sector and the other, the southern sector. Patrols were most often done with jeeps, I cannot recall ever doing day light foot patrols. The Munnerstadt camp was also our night listening post. In addition to the jeep patrols, we would occasionally send out a five man static observation post. The locations varied.”

 

 

     
 
Machinegun jeep on the border in the early 1950s.
--Ed Keaney
 
A patrol gets ready to move out on one of those rare warm days.
--Ed Keaney
 
         

“I think the ’reaction force’ for any trouble on the border was located back at Daley Barracks and it makes sense that it would be the third platoon in the recon company. I do not recall taking the ½ tracks or tanks to Munnerstadt, I am sure that the patrolling was done in jeeps alone. “

“I do not recall radio communications being much of a problem. I don’t think the reports were real - time events unless something really out of the ordinary was seen. My recollection is that the men on patrol knew where the high ground or clear avenues for radio communication were and would keep the patrol base up to date when they felt sure the messages would reach us.“

“My best border story, and all of this is a long time ago, had to do with escorting a U.S. Senator up to the border. I think he was from New Mexico and for some reason, wanted to take a piss - over the line - into East Germany. Far be it from me to get in the way, so we found a place and - he did it - while at least to East German Volkspolitzei guards observed.“

“My other significant memory from those days was of racial integration in the battalion. Those were, as they say, interesting times in the Army. Battalion Commander LTC Spurrier and then his successor, LTC Reynolds, were great leaders. Training, maintenance and discipline were always top priorities. After Germany, I was in the reserves for a while and then went into the National Guard. I went to flight school, took a position as a Flight Warrant Officer, went to Vietnam and then spent many years either in uniform or as a civilian NG employee doing flight training or maintenance. Finally retired from it all as a CW 4 in 1989.“
 
 

 

     
 
US Patrol on the border, 1960.   Stefanowicz
 
The "2 Kilometer Warning sign"  these signs were found on all roads leading into the border area at the 2 kilometer point.  Commonly found during the 2/14 ACR patrol period, by 1975, they had almost all been replaced with the " 1 Kilometer to Border " signs.    Tartella
 
         

Robert Stauffer 1954-55:

"We only used the scouts on the border, the tankers and mortar men concentrated on training and maintenance. The infantry squad was used as necessary to fill in if we were short. We often saw Russians on the border, now and then we picked up stray East German civilians and guards on our side. They were interrogated and returned. At least once, US forces wandered across and a similar fate was in store for them. Everyone was armed and shots were exchanged across the border. We never started it, but we always responded. On the other hand, there was one Russian I would see quite often right on the very border line. He spoke English, we would chat and I think I even gave him a pack of cigarettes. As a platoon leader, I tried to spend as much time on the border during our turn as possible. We only used the radios to report on things that seemed out of the normal pattern; everything else was covered in an extensive debriefing once the patrol was completed."

"I recall our schedule as two weeks on the border, two weeks doing maintenance and two weeks conducting classes and training. Alerts came at any time of the day or night and often we were out for two or three days on no notice. I don't think we expected a war but we took the possibility very seriously."

Ed Bowmann:

"I was trained as a tank driver but soon was driving scout jeeps on all the patrols, it seemed as though we went out for 24-36 hours each time. We patrolled with the machine gun jeep in the day and set up a listening post at night. Three 'C' rations was all you could expect until we got back to the barracks or the tent camp by Wollbach ( maybe Munnerstadt ) which I think we used in both Summer and Winter. One of my strongest memories is just how rural the whole area was, farm land and large woods in neatly set up blocks, you'd go through these tiny German villages and maybe see one or two weak light bulbs in the windows, the night sky was as dark and filled with stars as you could ever imagine. You really felt as though you were way out ... there ."

LTC (ret) Richard Moore 1954-55:

"I don't recall the gun fire on the border but there certainly were many gaps where soldiers could stray across by mistake. One patrol strayed north into East Germany by three or four hundred meters once and the Vopo's came tearing after them at high speed. I don't think that particular US Patrol stopped heading south until they got to Mellrichstadt! I was in Recon Company D in the early 1950s and remember that there was an old stone tower by Munnerstadt that we used as both an OP and a rally point for the patrols. The patrolling was done primarily by the scouts but we rotated through other members of the platoon as needed. I had to be careful with my drivers to insure that the every vehicle could move out if an alert was called so that always required a careful check as the assignments were made."

 

 

     
 
A wooden tower guarding a  2nd generation barrier fence.  This would have been a normal  scene during the 1960's as the 2/14 patrolled the border.    Ritter
 
In 1967, a GAK checks out the US patrol. 
--Terry Sharp
 
         

As the border began to evolved into the full barrier system, the casual patrolling to intercept smuggling and refugees of the old Constabulary days gave way to a system of formal patrolling, fixed observation posts and spot reports detailing East German activity. The border observation mission became something that troopers of the Eaglehorse squadron could clearly recognize but there were some surprises.

Col (Ret) Curtis Rosler, LTC (Ret) Willard C. Copp and Robert E. Lied collectively recall the border mission and the 2/14 ACR in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

"Much of the border was still open. There may have been some barrier fence in the northern portion but the majority of our sector was marked by both East and West Germany but there were no fences. Maybe when the Berlin Wall started going up, the fence building picked up speed."

"Our border camp was by Wollbach and it was no hotel but adequate. There was a building that held our HQ, mess hall and radio room. There was a troop billet and a generator building. All this was there when we arrived so I guess it was put up in 1956-1957."

"The surveillance mission was performed by the scouts in their jeeps, pulled from the three platoons and used as a consolidated group under an Lt from the Troop. He was the OIC for the mission and I guess we rotated the Lts, maybe ten days each. If additional men were needed, we always had the infantry squads to draw from. The tankers and mortar men remained in BK with the rest of the Troop. We had no fixed OPs that can be recalled but there were many places we all knew that provided good vantage points to observe the East or could be used as listening posts at night. I think we were covering much of our sector each day, perhaps two sets of two scout jeeps going both northwest and southeast along the border. Much but not all of this occurred in the daylight, I believe we maintained a pretty good presence at night, not patrolling but in stationary positions. Spot reports were called in as observations were made and these were relayed to Daley Barracks. Also, the Squadron had one or two L19 aircraft that flew the border when ever possible. The Lts from How Btry were trained ariel observers and that was their contribution."

"Back in Bad Kissingen, we had a H34 type cargo helicopter from Fulda stationed on the parade field with crew ready to go. This was the ' fast reaction force ' and it was staffed by an infantry squad from the border Troop and an additional Lt. In the event of any sort of trouble on the border, they were our initial response. They were called out and inserted on occasion for training but I don't recall an actual emergency alert. It was called the 'Howdy Doody squad'."

 

 

     
 
Jeep patrol on the border. 
--Richard Harrington
 
OP 10 on the hill looking towards the Meiningen Gap. The photo shows just how small it was prior to the expansion in the late 1960's. 
--Richard Harrington
 
         

"There were a few 'illegal border crossings', and most times these were picked up by the West Germans but once, an East German guard came across to one of our patrols. That was a big deal for some time. On occasion, we filled in at OP Alpha in the 1/14 sector when they were committed to major training."

During most of this period, only Troops E, F and G conducted the surveillance mission. H Company and How Battery were exempt but as the mission demanded, on occasion, they sent entire platoons to the border to assist. In early 1967, the 2/14 ACR was detached from the parent regiment and attached to the 2 nd ACR. This situation remained until the reflag to the 11th ACR and return to V Corps. Also during this period, the squadron was responsible for a very long run of border, extending from Frankenheim in the northwest to the junction of West Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia in the southeast.

Starting in 1966, the border mission was run from two camps, at Wollbach and at Camp Harris, Coburg, with a reinforced platoon at the each location; fixed OP's and jeep patrols kept watch. Wollbach was basically a "rough and ready" area but under LTC Paul Palmer in 1966, a more permanent camp was built. The next commander of the 2/14 ACR, LTC John Byers, expanded the OP that watched the Meiningen Gap. The building he left behind is what troopers of the Eaglehorse, a few years later, would remember as OP Sierra. At some point also, the brick OP we later remembered as OP 13 by Breitensee was built. Buses rolled almost every weekend from Bad Kissingen to the border camps carrying wives and children for reunions that lasted a few hours.

Col (Ret) Norman Harms, 2/14 commander in 1969-1970, recalled the border much as his predecessors. The Army in Germany during the Vietnam era was a very demanding assignment for all ranks. He remembered border tours of six weeks per Troop with ample support from HHT and H Company. The border to gunnery and immediately to major maneuvers and then return to the border was not uncommon for a cavalry troop. He noted,

"... but the best story I have concerning the border concerns those trees by the OP on the hill. The trees and the brush were in the way of the troops, that was clear to me. I tried on a few occasions to get the local Germans to cut them back to improve our vision ... no luck! So, as Post Commander, one day I just solved the problem. We had those Combat Engineers at Daley, I got a group of them in trucks with chain saws and sent them up to the OP. Couple of hours later, the tree and bush problem was solved .... the Germans were not happy! So the complaining started and even the VII Corps Commander came down to take a look. He took me aside after the visit and said, ' I have money in the budget for this sort of thing, trees and maneuver damage, we'll smooth it over with the Germans, although I think in one day, you just used half of what I have! Have to agree with you though .... you did the right thing!'" .

 

 

     
 
Family day at Camp Wollbach once the more substantial camp was built.
--Paul Palmer
 
One of the older style signs as of 1967 on the border; even the East Germans objected to the wording. 
--William Carlisle
 
         

MSG (Ret) Jack Stoltz:

"I was with the squadron from Feb 1969 until early 1973, first as a Platoon Sergeant in Troop F and then as the Squadron Border NCO. Here is how I remember it. The rotation was E, F and G only, the missions on the border were done with the scouts and infantry squads primarily. The tankers and mortar squad helped out as needed. I guess now and then, some troopers from H Company may have come up to help but it was a rarity. The standard patrol was done with the jeeps and we had the block house OP by Highway 19. I remember we used the M113s as static OPs quite often. The camp at Wollbach had not received any "newer" barracks yet, it was still the Quonset Huts and they were adequate. There was no "Beer Hall" during my period and we used the Mess Hall as the movie theater at night. We did have a Camp Custodian looking after the Camp."

"I recall five times when East German Border Guards or workers came over. It was as they were putting in new mine fields and had the fence line opened up. On four occasions, the BGS picked those guys up; they usually had people on site monitoring all the big East German projects. Once, one of our patrols found an East German guy and we immediately turned him over to the BGS. That was an exciting day!"
"We did not have a big training program at Daley for the next Troop as it got ready to go to Wollbach, that was left up to the Troop Commander and his guys. The rotations came so fast, that even with the turn over common in the Vietnam period, there were not too many new troopers to familiarize with the border each time. As a Platoon Sergeant, I always handled it ' in house '. Within 72 hours of the new Troop assuming the mission, there would be a command inspection by the SCO and myself. We would look as all aspects of the camp and the mission to insure they were off to a good start. I was active on the border for both quality control and working on missions that the S2 gave out and I was the observer on some of the border flights. We did not have an "air insertion" patrol, however."

 

 

     
 
Scouts of Recon Company 'E' receive the mission briefing prior to departure from Daley Barracks.
--Stefanowicz
 
Lt Bob Stauffer, Recon Company 'F', in 1954.
--Stefanowicz
 
         

"The only times we used the camp at Coburg was when we filled in the border patrol of the 2 nd ACR unit that had gone to Graf. That happened maybe once or twice per year and when we had our rotation, they came up to Camp Wollbach. In my career, I spent a lot of time in border cavalry units, and I really enjoyed it and I think the troops found the mission interesting."

BG (Ret) Mike O'Connell, squadron commander in 1972-73, remembers big changes as the 14th ACR reflagged to the 11th ACR. At the camp, he was able to get the support of the Regional Facilities Engineers to fully winterize the buildings and with help from the VII Corps Commander, LTG Mearns, found some funds for further improvements at the Beer Hall. The tables and chairs were added, a donation from the local German beer distributor and this may have been when beer was first authorized. He also wanted an entire cavalry troop to be able to occupy Camp Wollbach so plans were drafted to expand the hardstand. The construction was underway as he changed command.

Col (Ret) Frank Hurd, the Troop G commander and S2 was with the squadron from 1970-73 and witnessed the replacement of the older Quonset hut barracks buildings at the camp with German manufactured prefabricated buildings. The camp roads and track park were still unpaved and a fire destroyed the wood frame motor shop building. It was replaced with the cinder block two bay building that remains on site to this day.

Great thanks to Col (Ret) Paul Palmer, Col (Ret) John Byers, Col (Ret) Norman Harms, Col (Ret) Frank Hurd, BG (Ret) Mike O'Connell, MSG (Ret) Jack Stoltz and all the other members of the 2/14 ACR for helping us tell this story.

 

 

     
 
PFC Ed Bowmann in 1954.
--Stefanowicz
 
Lt Stauffer and 'patrol Dachshund' on the border in 1954 having a little bit of fun while we did a serious job. After seeing all those huge German guard dogs on both sides of the border, I couldn't resist this photo.
--Bob Stauffer
 
         

 

 
 

The Border Mission 1972-1973

 
 


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BG (Ret) Mike O'Connell:

"When I took command of the squadron, we were still part of VII Corps and attached to the 2nd ACR. The mission was conducted out of both Wollbach and Coburg and we were responsible for a very long run of border. This was a difficult task, the mission was done with a reinforced platoon at each camp and the balance of the troop remaining at Daley. I had seen the border earlier in my career and new what to expect from the East Germans ... they constantly worked to improve the barriers and stood guard vigilantly. 

  Unless otherwise indicated, all photos are courtesy of BG (Ret) Mike O'Connell  
     
  Late November 1971, I assume command of the squadron in Bad Kissingen. The ceremony was held in the gym; the previous SCO, LTC Tuggle had already departed so the photo shows at left, the SXO, LTC O'Connell, center, and COL Graham, RCO of the 2nd ACR at right.
 
  At the ceremony, we had invited guests and family members in the stands and commanders, staff and senior NCOs of the squadron.  
     
  We were attached to the 2nd ACR and actually designated as the 4th Squadron. From left: 1st Squadron SCO, 2nd Squadron SCO, LTC Tommy Smith, 2 ACR RCO, Col Charles P. Graham, 3rd Squadron SCO and on far right, LTC M.G. O'Connell, 4th Squadron SCO. Colonel Graham retired at the grade of Lieutenant General.   The men of HHT receive an Honor Streamer.  
         

I went to the Regimental commander with a series of changes I wanted to make and he gave me free reign. It was important that the cavalry troop realize that the border mission was very important and not get complacent but also, that all the other training and maintenance missions get done as well. I wanted that troop commander at a border camp and all the soldiers out of Daley. During those first months, I was very active on the border, checking the camps and calling out the Reaction Force for command inspection. If I wasn't up there, the S2 or Border NCO was.

     
     
  They were always at it; DDR guards with a personnel carrier by a construction site.
 
  This was part of fixing up the second generation fence. I don't recall they had that single fence program going on yet.  
     
  Here is a good photo of a GAK. I don't think we called them that, however. I think we just called them all "guards".   The usual construction program.  
       

 

Insofar as the camps, I was able to get some small funds to continue the improvements to the buildings. Soldier morale and quality of life were important keys to what I wanted the border mission to be.

Once we re-flagged to the Blackhorse, the mission became somewhat easier in that we now only had one camp, Wollbach, and the length of the border to be observed was reduced. Camp Wollbach may have been a little tight for a cav troop but at least now, the entire chain of command could monitor the situation from one location. I felt we made steady progress in both our professionalism on the border as well as getting everything else done.

     
     
  More of the same.   Each month we tried to have a command briefing at the Post Theater to keep all the troopers informed as well as recognize those who had performed in an outstanding fashion. I am at center handing out an award, CSM Daley is at right.
 
 
     
  This was interesting to watch, the building of a new tower. I do not recall any of the wooden ones when I took command but maybe there were a few.   I guess you have to give them credit for bravery or something to do that job  
         

The re-flag did present a number of challenges to the staff as all the reports changed when we came back to the Blackhorse and there honestly was a different approach to virtually all things in V Corps. We spent many hours in meetings at Fulda to learn the new "language" and get the changes out to the soldiers in an understandable fashion. The staff did great work here.

I guess my best border story goes back to the first months after taking command. We went out on alert and then I had some freedom of maneuver. I ran that squadron fast towards the border and we went into hide positions near our defensive positions for several hours. After getting back to BK, I received a call from the 2nd ACR commander. He said he hoped we had enjoyed a good training experience and .... that if I did that again, he wanted plenty of advanced warning  to himself and the regimental staff. A few days later, I learned that our little maneuver had caused much interest in East Germany and that several long silent radio nets had suddenly sparked to life. The signal guys had a field day listening in!"

  Click on thumbnail to bring up the full-sized picture      
     
  Here is a copy of an East German Border Company Spot Report Summery that Erwin Ritter found in the German Federal Archives. It details how "two American soldiers armed with pistols were captured just southwest of Brix and then later turned over to the State Ministry for Security." This would have been just outside of the Eaglehorse sector. BG (Ret) O'Connell noted, " I have no idea what those guys were talking about because this did not happen. It would have been the biggest story in Germany that year, I was there and never heard of it!" Any help on this mystery??
--Erwin Ritter
  This was a difficult period for the Army. We still had draftees and soldiers returning from Vietnam with only six months of active duty remaining. There were drugs, racial tensions and discipline problems. I had a strong chain of command and little by little, we fought each battle. Having the border mission helped, all soldiers could see the reason for being in Germany.  
     
  Soldier of the Month award to one of the troopers of the squadron who helped make it all work.   Another strong soldier is recognized. Six months into the command, I felt things had really improved: discipline, hard training, positive feedback for doing good, a very simple approach.  
         

MSG (Ret) Scott Ford:

"I was the Eaglehorse Border NCO from 72-74 and spent a lot of time on the border, mostly after the re-flag. I don't recall that I was involved with a lot of border training for the troops. This was left up to the troop commanders and maybe the S2. I don't recall having a border knowledge test either. Things like the air insertions and joint patrols with the Germans sound great but we did not have either of those. The SBOC was under the control of the S2, the GSR guys were in HHT and we controlled them. They spent a lot of time at the border camp augmenting the troop with the mission. I don't recall any other units sending guys to help us out on the border except when we went to gunnery, then the entire mission was handed off. Usually I stayed behind to make sure this went OK.

     
     
  NBC training at HTA.   Blackhorse commander, Colonel Clark, presents awards to select squadron personnel. Note that we still wear the baseball cap. The black berets came on board in March or April of 73.  
     
  Squadron formation as I turn command over to LTC Zeltman in July 1973. We had come a long way and I was very proud of the squadron that LTC Zeltman would command.   Detail of the Eaglehorse formation at the change of command.  
         

The patrolling of the border went on as usual, the fixed OP by Highway 19 and then the jeep patrols moving along a series of check points and calling in spot reports. I think we had some track patrols but they were not a big part of the program. We did not use How Battery on the border but maybe they  sent a few guys up at some point to help drive. H Company was another matter. They were required  more often to help out and the talk was always on going about adding  them  to the regular rotation. I think that by 1974, when LTC Zeltman was the squadron commander, this may have happened.


 
 
     
  From left, RCO Colonel Schweitzer, LTC O'Connell and LTC Zeltman.   I would later command a brigade in the US and then return to Germany as the 8th ID Assistant Division Commander (maneuver). I recall the command of the cavalry squadron in Bad Kissingen as a major highlight in my career. The successes we had came as a direct result of the hard work of the troopers.  
     

Much of my time was spent on the border, observing the East Germans and checking things out at Camp Wollbach. We would call the Reaction Force out for inspection and then there were "mini-alerts" just to test the camp readiness. There may have been some IBC's but I don't recall much about them. The rule was to hand anyone like that off to the German police as soon as possible. I don’t recall if we had a Camp Custodian or if it was all handled by HHT Supply."

Big thanks to BG (Ret) O’Connell and MSG (Ret) Ford for helping us get this part of the story underway. If any other troopers would like to give us a hand with their recollections of this period, please contact the webmaster.
 

 
 

The Border Mission in Brief: 1978 - 1981

 
 


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Each company, troop and battery in turn did a thirty day rotation at the border camp performing the surveillance mission.  This was planned on the master training schedule; for level one gunnery and participation in major FTX's and ARTEP's  which required  participation of the three cavalry troops and tank company, HOW battery was slotted to the mission.  Other alternatives in staffing allowed for just scouts at the camp if a tank only training event was occurring.  On rare occasions, the entire mission was handed off for a month to a designated divisional cavalry troop from a V Corps unit.
 
Once at the camp, soldiers were restricted to the area and civilian clothes were not allowed. The only POV's allowed belonged to the Troop Commander and  perhaps one or two platoon leaders / platoon sergeants.  Some First Sergeants went to the camp, others remained with the supply section at Daley.  To accommodate soldiers processing in and out of the unit, the troop kept its barracks open.  A  supply run in the afternoon shuttled between Daley Barracks and the camp carrying soldiers and supplies back and forth.  Usually a trooper could expect one or two  24 hour periods off  from the mission which could be spent back in Bad Kissingen.
 
         
 
This photo, from 1980, shows personnel from How Battery in the briefing area.  At the lectern, center left, Lt Cozzens, at right, Lt Cheatham. --Ted Cheatham
 
Seen in photo, an  H Company jeep, 1978,  pressed into service, speeds north towards Fladungen as part of a  US Patrol.  As of  1979, all canvas was removed from border mission jeeps. 
--Stefanowicz
 
       
 
The unit at the border camp performed both the observation mission and a normal training day to include vehicle maintenance.  Depending on the unit and creativity of the commander, border rotations offered a wonderful opportunity to conduct training away from Daley Barracks.  Border operations were supervised by the Border Camp OIC, usually a "border qualified" lieutenant.  Qualification was basically an ad hoc term; the officer must have had at least one prior border tour and be thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the mission to the satisfaction of the unit commander.
 
For those directly involved with the border mission, this was a 24 hour day.  Those not involved in the mission were free, at the end of the duty day, 1700 or so, to enjoy the advantages of camp life.  In the non winter months, the basketball court and horse shoe pit were popular activities.  The Day Room offered a video tape player, although tapes were in short supply in the early 1980's, a wide selection of board games, magazines and books.  The camp Beer Hall opened at 1900 under the supervision of the platoon sergeants.  German bottled beer and soft drinks were sold at a low price; there were snacks and hot dogs.  People in the current day border mission could not drink beer, soldiers scheduled for the next day border mission were cut off at 2000 hrs.  The major activities at the Beer Hall were card games and then the movie.  16 mm movies, fresh from the AAFES system, were shown nightly.   The movies were handed from unit to unit along the border trace every third day or so ... we received our movies from the 3-7 Cav and handed them off to the 1/11th ACR in the north.  The hall was closed by 2200 hrs, I never saw the platoon sergeants lose control of the situation.  For those not interested in the Beer Hall,  some of the NCO's conducted marathon card and dice tournaments in the barracks.  
 
         
 
US Patrol , H Company, 1978; from left, SP4 Finney,  PFC Hill, SGT Price,  SGT McCellan.  SGT Price writes a spot report while Finney continues to observe.  The patrol drew live ammunition, five rounds per man, issued by the camp armorer and accounted for by stamped lot number.  Additionally each vehicle carried a metal "fuse case", a steel box, banded shut containing additional ammunition and flares.  Much of what was observed consisted of  " day to day " activities on the border. The intelligence value was  in determining if what was observed fell within the expected norms or ... was a change from the pattern.  Either way, we reported what we saw.    The berets were gone by the start of 1979, uniform for all aspects of the border mission became standard field set to include helmet.  Stefanowicz
 
 
"They took my picture ... now where did they put it?!"  Tom Sommerkamp on US Patrol,  snaps the photo just as a GAK does the same in 1980.  The GAKs took thousands of photos of US and West German personnel on the border and Erwin Ritter has been able to recover a few photos taken of him but never could locate the files which must contain thousands of photos of cavalry troopers.  The photos are probably located somewhere in the archives containing the records of the Border Troops and the STASI, the East German secret police. 
--Sommerkamp 
 
       

The duty day at the border camp started early; the briefing for all personnel involved with the current day mission began at 0530.  The briefing was given by the camp OIC and covered in detail: the current day US wheel patrol plan and areas of interest, areas of interest for the fixed OP team, an overview of ongoing Border Troop activities from recent days,  a review of standard patrol and reporting procedures, a review of the rules covering Use of Deadly Force and Reportable Border Incidents, a review of SMLM sighting procedures and a review of West German border patrol activities.  In my experience, it took about 45 minutes to go through the complete briefing and answer any questions.  All personnel then signed a sheet indicating that they had heard and understood the complete briefing. 

The Eaglehorse squadron patrolled 1/3 of its border trace each day with the Wheeled US Patrol.  A pair of jeeps, two NCO's and four enlisted men followed the roads and trails  through a series of Patrol Vantage Points, pre-designated check points along the trace offering good views of the barrier system.  The patrol would pause at each PVP, and send spot reports of any observed activity via FM unsecured radio to the Border Operations Center at Camp Wollbach / Lee.  The patrol would remain for 15 - 25 minutes at each point and then continue on.  In the event of unusual activity, they might be directed to remain and continue to observe the situation.  Usually the patrols were run during daylight hours. 
 
         
 
We observed the engineer operations, GAKs, patrol and tower activity of the East Germans.  Sometimes we observed the towns.  Seen here, Frankenheim, just past the Signal Fence, a town of some size in the northern run of the Eaglehorse sector. --Stefanowicz
 
An engineer Tatra 813.  US Patrol  first began to observe this type of vehicle on the border in 1980 and it could not immediately be found in our recognition guides.  We simply referred to it as the "Bravo Foxtrot Tango" ... "big f***ing truck". 
--Ritter
 
       
 
The border jeep fleet was a constant source of problems.  Three vehicles devoted to the mission were in dire need of constant maintenance as of 78 -79.  If a border jeep was not mission ready, the border unit substituted one of its own to meet the requirement.   Often times, all three border jeeps were not ready for operation despite being matters of command concern.   The fleet was finally  condemned as non repairable due to massive uni-body rust and cracking and  in 1979, five new jeeps were issued.  A border PLL was authorized and established  and a border wheel vehicle mechanic position added to HHT and staffed at the camp.  These changes dramatically improved the readiness and safety of the wheel patrol program.
 
Dismounted Patrols  /  Air Insertions  /  Track and Tank Patrols in the Eaglehorse  Border Mission  thru 1981
 
In addition to the US Wheel Patrol, a number of other patrol options existed for Eaglehorse troopers.  Normally, at least once each border tour, the unit at Camp Wollbach / Lee would conduct a dismounted patrol along a portion of  border sector.  If the patrol could cover the usual 1/3 rd of the trace, it might be run in lieu of the wheel patrol.  Mostly , however, dismounted operations were done in addition to the standard patrol.  Dismounted operations  followed all  normal patrol procedures, at least  one border qualified E6 and a second nco, four enlisted observers; radio contact was maintained with a PRC - 77.  Spot reports and SITREPS flowed as required.   Radio communications could be a major problem;  the 77 had trouble reaching the border camp and weather / terrain conditions in the border area   added  problems.  The  solution was to have the camp " stand - by "  jeep shadow the patrol but remain four or five kilometers off the trace as a radio relay.  This jeep would also carry the " fuse box " of additional ammunition.  For a new platoon leader on his first border tour, dismounted patrolling was an ideal way to learn the facts and lore of the border mission from  more experienced NCO 's and enlisted men.  Over the course of a four week tour, some Lt's tried to coordinate patrols to  allow  them to  " walk the entire trace ". 
 
         
 
H Company dismounted patrol Summer 78; from left, PFC Finney, unknown, Sp/4 Herbert, PVT McCall, SGT price, SFC Sperry. --Stefanowicz
 
Troop G dismounted patrol air pick up at Camp Lee, 1981. --Stefanowicz
 
       

Once each border tour, regiment made a UH 1 available to conduct an air insertion of a dismounted patrol into each squadron sector.  This event was coordinated on the master schedule, pick up occurred at Camp Lee and the patrol was inserted within a kilometer of the border trace.  For a 19D scout or 19E tanker, this was an brief but welcome change from  normal procedures.
 
Tank and track patrols of the border were conducted only in the winter months and were a matter of coordination between the Troop Commander and the SCO / staff.  The patrol ran as the  standard US patrol.  Scout  M113's had no difficulty  performing this mission although in the event of  mechanical problem, the camp had to scramble personnel to continue the required patrol.  Tracked vehicles were prohibited from closing beyond 50 meters of the actual border.  Tank patrols by H Company were conducted in a similar fashion ... the tanks were escorted into the border area then maneuvered on their own from PVP to PVP.  One tank would close to the 50 meter point while the second remained far back in overwatch.  The powerful optics allowed for great observation of the east, however, the Border Troops  didn't appreciate the turrets  slewing back and forth from tower to bunker to work party.  I believe the last tank patrol was conducted in early 1979. 
 
         
 
H Company tank patrol on the border 1974; Ron Hudgins takes a photo through the Primary Sight of the Soviet Bee Hive Antenna Array.
--Hudgins
 
       
 
These activities were not  designed to provoke the Border Troops although, if they reacted, it made for good spot reports.  At the 7th Army level, in Berlin, monthly meetings occurred  between representatives of West Germany, the US Army and the East Germans to discuss and resolve border related incidents and complaints.  Concerns over  the " provocative  nature " of tanks on the border probably led to this type of patrol being prohibited as of mid 1979.
 
 
 

Camouflage, Kevlar and the Smooth Rides: The Border Mission and Camp Lee into the Mid 1980’s

 
   

A trooper who had departed in 1972 and then returned to the Eaglehorse in mid 1981 would find some things changed but much would still be very familiar. Cotton fatigues and the berets were gone, "wash and wear" with baseball cap had been the standard uniform for some time. The Sheridans were gone, replaced by the well respected M60A3; the cavalry troop had grown, more mortars, more 113s, more people, greater capabilities. On the trace, Op 10 looking north toward Meiningen was about the same, now known as OP Sierra. OP 13 by Breitensee was a burned out shell but still a known landmark. The border camp had a new name and a new dining facility; they had video tapes to watch in the Day Room but little else had changed. Then things began to happen.

         
 
While the new OP Tennessee was under construction, we moved down the hill towards the border.  Here is our temporary OP one cold Winter day. 
--Brian Reed
 
US Patrol and a BGS patrol observe an East German town in the Eaglehorse sector. Note the Mercedes "G" type vehicle on left. These had taken the place of the M151's as used on the border in the mid 1980's. Maintenance support was partially passed off to TMP and repair parts were locally sourced. They were 4 x 4 and offered a " nice ride " but were not the robust combat vehicle the Cav might have preferred. 
--Favia / Ritter
 
       

Starting in the second half of 1981, change was in the air in the Army and at Camp Lee. German engineers were frequently seen at the border camp, on escorted trips to OP Sierra and elsewhere on the trace. One of the first noted improvements at Camp Lee came that summer as "new" latrine / shower areas were added as "mini" buildings attached to the ends of the existing barracks. The old design, part of the pre fabricated buildings, simply could not support the traffic of a cavalry troop and this low cost solution was designed, funded and built to fix a long standing problem. Later that year, the first camouflage BDU uniforms began to show up in the duffel bags of new troopers arriving from Fort Knox. 

As each company, troop and battery in turn rotated through Camp Lee the pace of change seemed to quicken. Long rumored new OPs suddenly were becoming reality, the fielding plan for the M1 tank was announced, border jeeps gave way to Mercedes 4 x 4 SUVs, it was off to Hohenfels for Pony Fights followed by Vielseck for the fielding of the M3. The beer hall built by LTC Paul Palmer was gone in day, splinters and sheet metal loaded into an open top container. Construction started the following morning on the new Beer Hall. Ted Prescott, Troop E Commander and Tom Favia, Border NCO a few years later, help fill in the detail.

Ted Prescott:

"Here are some observations about Border Ops and Camp Lee during my tenure 1983-1986."

"When I first arrived Border operations were still pretty much conducted the way they had been done in the past. Units rotated to the border every 30 days with all the normal pain-in-the-ass inventories of ammunition and other items. We still used the old reliable ¼ ton jeeps for patrols, but I think all would agree they were on their last leg from all the mileage and abuse heaped upon them. Sometime in the 1984-1985 we received new mounts. The old jeeps were replaced with Mercedes 4x4 jeeps. These vehicles were a godsend since they were closed in and the heater kicked ass in the winter. For once you could cruise the Grenz in comfort-at least when compared to the old jeeps. I don’t know who was responsible for the change, but I would sure like to buy them a beer. These vehicles were sturdy too. A German rear-ended one in Bad Neustadt leaving only a scuff mark on the bumper. The Audi didn’t fare as well. The entire front end and hood was crumpled."

"On the Trace, the OPs were the new modular variety. Sometime between 1980-1983 they had been constructed replacing the shacks from the earlier years. The new structures were heated, had running water (including toilet facilities) and the living quarters were full of bunks for the OP teams."

"During my stay there were some significant changes at Camp Lee. I don’t know how long the changes had been in the works, but I think SCOs LTC Bruce Clarke and LTC Tom Ramick had their hands in it. One of the first changes was the addition of the radio tower, which I believe was completed during one of my E Troop rotations. I climbed to the top as the commo guys were putting the finishing touches on the wiring. Shortly afterward a commo specialist from HHT had the unexpected honor to ride the old antenna mast down as it collapsed onto the roof of the old BOC as they were dismantling it. I think he broke his arm and was evaced back to Bad Kissingen. Such were the hazards of border duty!"

         
 
A well attended open house at Camp Lee, 1988. Vehicle displays and presentations by the BGS, Bavarian Border Police, Bundeswehr and the Eaglehorse Squadron.
--Favia, Tom
 
J Nichols and Hyder on the observation deck of OP.
--Todd Stach
 
       

"Another change was the moving of the BOC. I believe it was moved from the original structure by the gate to a newer building by the Learning Center in 1984. The BOC was still operating out of the new location when I left in December 1986, but I heard a new one was to be built on the site of the original BOC."

"The BOC, though, wasn’t the only change. The barracks were either renovated or replaced with newer modular buildings (I can’t remember which), a new beer hall was constructed, the motor pool was revamped, and a picnic area was added outside the Mess Hall. It really spruced the place up."

"As for the patrols, we witnessed large-scale minefield activity during 1984-1985 as the East Germans removed the SM-501 fence mines and the land mines. Much to watch and occasionally the engineers were injured or killed in the process. Additionally, there was still some border and signal fence construction in various areas."

"There were also a few successful escape attempts and I believe the Bavarian Border Police snatched up a real-to-life East German spy roaming the southern border area in our sector. He was walking through the area when the BBP stopped and quizzed him. He didn’t have the right answers so he was arrested. He had infiltrated through the border fence."

SFC (Ret) Tom Favia:

1. "The ( Mercedes ) G-Wagons were introduced as a TMP vehicle. The logic was that they would be easily maintained by TMP motor pools regarding scheduled maintenance and local contracted Mercedes garages on the economy could do major work. They were also intended to give a certain high profile look to the patrols along the border. Unfortunately, these models were not the best in terms of power and reliability for such a mission. Therefore, they quickly proved themselves as more of a POV (suv) than a system intended for military operations. The introduction of the hmmwv (Kevlar hard top version) was an immense improvement. It returned the missions to a proper military posture. It proved extremely reliable in any type of terrain and environment. Naturally it created some logistical problems and challenges in the beginning. We had to set up a small motor pool within the operational border camps along with the necessary personnel in order to support these new workhorses. However the benefits of the hmmwv were enormous compared to its disadvantages. The missions consisted of two vehicles, as with the old Mercedes g-wagons, in order to accommodate a squad size element."

         
 
Interior view of the OP.
Todd Stach
 
Todd Stach by the Mercedes " G " type vehicles used for border operations.
Todd Stach
 
       

2. "The border mission itself was not affected by the introduction of new combat equipment into the regiment. The M1s and M3s simply continued showing the combat presence at the border camps and permanently manned OPs. There were, however certain problems, due to the insistence of certain troop commanders, in conducting combat patrols directly along the border with these systems. It often raised a few serious eyebrows from the East German border troops who considered such matters as an incident along the border (since gun tubes were always pointing across the border in order to utilize their respective optics). However, after I assumed duties as the Border Recon and Intel NCO drastic changes were implemented in terms of the overall conduct of mission. The Regimental Co and the Regimental Border Team naturally blessed these changes. The patrols had become simply a routine demonstration of U.S. military presence along the IGB, but had long lost their effectiveness as a serious reconnaissance patrol. The DDR Border forces new precisely each checkpoint utilized by the U.S. patrols, and once a few checkpoints had been visited they also could easily determine the direction of travel. So, they could adjust their presence and activities appropriately. I ensured that the patrols became effective military recon patrols. Placing the proper responsibility within the hands of the patrol leaders easily did this. Check points were eliminated and the border sector was divided into operational sectors named after Primary Intelligence targets across the geopolitical border. The Patrol schedule was based on overlapping sector coverage over a specific period of time. The patrol leader decided his movement within the sectors utilizing military planning techniques and implementing such into a five paragraph operations order which he submitted first to the border team, and once approved, was given to his patrol. This ensured that movement in the sector was constantly varied based on movement techniques, from north to south, and vice-versa. The vehicles did not drive up and park at a checkpoint, rather one vehicle remained in over watch some distance away and concealed. The primary vehicle would also seek cover and personnel would then dismount and tactically move towards a vantage point in order to conduct reconnaissance of the specified PRI and surrounding area. The entire regiment under the order of Col Abrams then assumed this system, which was first introduced into the Eaglehorse area of operation."

         
 
SSG Favia, Eaglehorse Border NCO, by the entrance to the new Camp Lee Border Operations Center.
 
       

3. "The communications systems were all secure during my tenure and later on I am certain the SINGARS replaced the older secured radio systems. The landline to BK and Fulda were still in place and was simply a daily commo check requirement, which in fact was never used. We relied more and more on the STU-III secure telecom system for more rapid and extensive secure comms with the regimental border team."

4. "During my tenure the role of the Border Team changed drastically. The Border Intelligence Officer was responsible for the overall liaison between the Squadron Border facilities and operations and the Squadron/Regimental HQ´s respectively. He spent most of his time on the road between BK and Fulda. When he was on the Camp he received full detailed sitreps and updates from me, and we spent many hours on the trace, day and night. My role was primarily that of the reconnaissance and intelligence expert on the border for our sector. I was basically on duty all year round and day and night. I lived in a small village near the camp, which gave me immediate access and mobility to the border. As the Recon and Intel NCO I was also responsible for all military operations on the camp/border and ops. This included training of units/personnel to inspections and operation center functions. As a German linguist I was also the liaison NCO between our facility/operations and all German agencies. The third member of the team was the Director of Logistics. He dealt with all aspect of logistical requirements from a thru z!"
 

 
 

Eaglehorse Border Observation Posts 1972 - 1990

 
 


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The Eaglehorse Squadron, as of 1972, maintained two fixed observation posts in the border sector.  The first one OP 10  known in my period as OP Sierra and then re - built and re -  named as OP Tennessee in the mid 1980's, was located on a high spur running east - west just behind the border near the Eussenhausen Crossing Point.  The OP offered great views toward Meiningen and the bowl that funneled towards the  "Meiningen Gap".  The crossing point and Highway 19 was visible off to the lower right in the field of view, it was not our primary focus although all traffic heading towards the Border Troop control and inspection points was visible.  The OP lay approximately 200 meters behind the border at the front and 100 meters  away at the " west " side where the border jogged  in and around the spur.
 
         
 
Looking north along the edge of the OP 1981, the matching unit and antenna evident on the corner, GSR dish in front.  The woodline is in West Germany and this was a matter of concern.  As the trees grew, more and more of the immediate area to the front of the OP was obscured.  Getting the trees trimmed was a difficult proposition .... the local Forest Manager (Waldmeister) didn't want to do it ... the terrain was difficult and he didn't want to cut the trees.  I believe we asked for the BGS and the Office of the Border Resident, Corps level MI in sector,  to assist.  Eventually, the forest manager cut off one year's worth of growth.  After I left, I imagine they fought the same battle the following year. --Sabas Peralta
 
OP Sierra as of 1980.  Looking from the rear over the OP and towards Meiningen,  the observation portion is the left hand side, the exhaust for the drip heater is visible, the right hand side of the building was partially screened off as a sleeping space.  The OP had unsecured FM voice and land line to the Border Operations Center at Camp Lee. The " rough and ready " aspect of the building is clearly evident.      
--Sommerkamp
 
       
 
OP Sierra was staffed continuously through the period of the border mission.   It had been built by the 2 /14 ACR, probably during the construction phase at Camp Wollbach.  The teams rotated each 24 hrs from the border camp, shuttling back and forth  initially  in a M113 and then M3 once issued.  The team consisted of two NCO's and four junior enlisted.  The NCO's were required to remain awake for the entire tour of duty, the junior enlisted men provided the gate guard at the OP, a daylight roving guard at the barbed wire perimeter and assisted in observing and reporting on East German activities.  As time allowed, the troopers were rotated in positions and allowed to sleep in shifts.  Often, the standard OP team was augmented by a GSR team in a second M113.  The radar went into operation after sunset and allowed for " real world "  detection and tracking experience for the operators.
 
         
 
Railroad tie bunker by the gate to the OP area, 1977.  --Dan Thompson
 
This image, from 1974, shows the open expanse of the Meiningen Gap. We are looking almost due North across the border from OP 10; the city of Meiningen is visible in the distance, Henneberg, a small village, is not visible but would be to the right. The Eussenhausen Crossing Point would be to the extreme right. --Ron Hudgins
 
       
 
OP Sierra  initially had a latrine with "catch and burn" system.  This was replaced by a commercial German "porta-pottie" and once or twice each week, a "suck truck" negotiated the steep and winding gravel trail to service the unit.  This was a matter of some humor to all concerned.  The OP qualified as a " remote site " and therefore was under scrutiny by various Corps and USAREUR offices with little or no interest in the actual border mission.  As Border Officer, I once escorted a  USAREUR contact team to  inspect the "porta-pottie".  They  were the funding control office for the invoices received from the German latrine contractor and they wanted to insure that all aspects of the contract were being met.  I expected to show them the OP and East Germany; they took little interest in this as they thoroughly checked the porta-pottie and reviewed in great detail the contract and "suck" schedule  with the  contractor.  Once satisfied with the operation, they informed me they were leaving and I led them out of the 1 K zone.  I imagine they had other latrines to check that day ...
 
         
 
SGT's Semienko and Lisby check out East Germany from OP 10 in 1974.
--Capers
 
Looking from the former East Germany toward the spur where OP Sierra / Tennessee one stood, 2000.   The OP would have been found in a clearing near the top edge of the spur about half way from right to left.  With the exception of the telephone poles that ran along the gravel trail to the OP, all evidence of the US presence is gone.   --Bob Mathis
 
 
       
 
Lt Mitchell of G Troop has just conducted a reenlistment at the OP for one of his troopers.  The photo gives a good view of the interior of the OP and, seen on the counter, center of frame, the GSR monitor.  --Randy Mitchell
 
         
 
OP 12 was the second fixed site in our sector, it was similar in design to OP Sierra and was located to the southeast, in the rolling farmland near Sondheim.  This was used only on occasion and  lost it's roof in early 1978  due to a fire started by careless activity by a  non-squadron GSR crew.  The site was still used but no efforts were made to repair the damage.  After this, non Eaglehorse GRS augmentation teams were not allowed into the border area without unless under direct control of a standard 2/11 OP team. 
 
 
 

Camp Harris-Hindenburg Kaserne: From Constabulary to the Coburg Cubs

 
 


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In the cavalry, it always helps to know who is on your flanks. For US troopers stationed in Bad Kissingen, to the northwest, the next sector was the responsibility of 1/14 ACR-1 /11 ACR depending on your time frame. This squadron was stationed at Downs Barracks in Fulda and their border observation mission was centered at OP Alpha. To the southeast, as the Eaglehorse sector ended, the border was patrolled by American forces operating out of Camp Harris-Hindenburg Kaserne at Coburg. A wide array of units passed through this barracks to include troopers from the 14th ACR, 2nd ACR, 3 ACR and 3rd Infantry Division. It is an interesting chapter in the story of the American cavalry on the border and the threads of history that pass through Coburg extend to the Americans at Bad Kissingen and the 2 Kradschutzen Bn of the Third Reich era.
 

     
   
   
 

 

  Although not from Coburg, three images of the German army training in the mid 1930s. Top, infantry squad, middle, training with the 08 Maxim machinegun, bottom, machinegun complete with water jacket in the assault. Scenes like this would have been very typical for the 6 MG Bn at Hindenburg Kaserne in 1935.
--Stefanowicz
 
     

Coburg and Hindenburg Kaserne 

Coburg is a small city located approximated 65 kilometers east-northeast from Bad Kissingen and it is one of the affordable, hidden jewels of central Germany. The old town part of the city has most of the charm of Bad Kissingen although it is not a Kur Stadt has no casino. Above the town, on a towering hill, is a spectacular castle. Coburg offers great shopping for china, Hummel figurines and world famous stuffed toy animals for children. The wives of many US servicemen may recall Coburg more than their husbands, day trip bus tours to the china and toy factories were a staple of Rec Service operations at dozens of US bases in central Germany. Indicative of just how much has changed in Germany, Coburg is now home to major festivals celebrating New Orleans jazz and Brazilian Samba!

         
 
German soldiers swear their oath of allegiance to the German people and the Army at Hindenburg Kaserne, Coburg. Active units had the training responsibility to integrate each new wave of soldiers as they were called up in the pre war years.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
Post card image of Hindenburg Kaserne from the pre war years. Very similar to Manteuffel, it was a rectangle with a total of six barracks along the long sides and mess halls and administration buildings at the ends with parade field in the middle. Motor shops were behind the barracks buildings. Surrounding card is a graphic detailing the composition of the 6 MG Bn: 1 - combat company with 3 MG platoons and one motorcycle platoon, 2 - HQ +staff, como plt, support troops, 3 - technical building and NCO barracks, 4 - heavy company with engineer platoon, cannon platoon, AT platoon and mortar section, 5 - technical building, mess, EM club, NCO barracks.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
       
 
Men of the 6 MG Bn returning from the Anschluss of Austria.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
         

Hindenberg Kaserne in the pre war and WWII years

Hindenburg Kaserne, located not too far north of the town, shared a similar history and design with Manteuffel Kaserne. Built in the early -mid 1930s, the major tenant unit was the 6th Machinegun Battalion. An experimental unit configuration, fully motorized and containing the most modern equipment available to the Reichswehr and then early Third Reich Heer, it appears to have been a combination reconnaissance and shock attack unit. For a brief period, as the 2 Krad Battalion moved from Eisenach to Bad Kissingen in 1937, it shared the Kaserne with the 6th MG Bn.

Once the war started, 6 MG Bn participated in the fighting against Poland, France and the Low Countries and both the unit and individual soldiers were highly decorated. As was the normal pattern, the Coburg barracks became the home to the training center for replacements designated for that unit. In 1941, the battalion returned from France to Wildflecken, was reconfigured and redesignated as the 40th Kradschutzen battalion, part of the 10 Motorized Infantry Division. With this, the unit training and replacement home moved from Coburg to Regensburg and Hindenburg Kaserne became home to a variety of Panzergrenadier replacement training units. As with all the Kradschutzen battalions, in 1943, 40th Krad was reconfigured to an armored reconnaissance battalion and spent the balance of the war fighting in the East.

Coburg, Constabulary and the 6th Squadron

The United States Army had two major missions in immediate post war Germany. The war against Japan with the anticipated invasion of the home islands required that dozens of divisions be quickly moved half way around the world to a new theater of operations and, the basic law and order structures of a society needed to be maintained in Germany while the future shape of the county was considered. As early as 1944, planning was well underway to determine how to configure an American occupation force in Germany that could be sufficiently flexible to assume a variety of non wartime missions. Units needed to be fast, mobile and motivated; they would be in almost constant contact with the civilian population.

         
 
Command inspection of the 6th Constabulary Squadron by MG Ernest Harmon, Commander of Constabulary Operations, 1946.
--Ritter / USAREUR Historian
 
Three troopers at Coburg in typical Constabulary dress.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
       
 
In 1946, troopers of the 6th Constabulary Squadron parade at Hindenburg Kaserne for Major General Ernest H. Harmon, first commander of Constabulary Forces.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
         

In the American zone, by the Summer of 1946, with the issue of Japan almost settled, the formal "Occupation Plan" gave way to the "Zone Constabulary" with a tentative list of primarily armored reconnaissance battalions as the major participating units. A wide variety of missions were planned for: control of smuggling, control of refugees, basic law and order in assistance to the German police and vigorous patrolling of both the roads and countryside as a show of force to deter lawlessness. Constabulary units had their own MTO & E, based on light equipment, no tanks and plenty of M8 "Greyhound" armored cars and jeeps. Among the many former Wehrmacht barracks used to support Constabulary operations, Hindenburg Kaserne, located close to the line separating the American and Soviet zones in southern Germany, became the home for the 6th Constabulary Squadron. In addition to all other requirements, they also were responsible for monitoring a legal crossing point into the Soviet zone at Neustadt, northeast of Coburg.

The 6th Constabulary Squadron patrol area included the Rhoen region that many years later would be the Maneuver Rights Area and border area of the 2/14 ACR-2/11 ACR. Running to the east, their operational area also contained a large block of terrain towards Czechoslovakia. Interestingly, Bad Kissingen never was a major Constabulary post. Apparently, one Troop was located at Manteuffel Kaserne until the entire barracks was vacated to make way for the World Refugee Organization. The northern region of the future Eaglehorse area was patrolled by Constabulary personnel from Hammelberg, Schweinfurt and Fulda. The German Zoll police, the first reconstituted national German law enforcement organization, kept physical watch on the border between the American and Soviet zone; the Constabulary troopers assisted and monitored all other civil-police aspects of society. The Americans had arrived, the Constabulary period went better than anyone expected.

         
 
Neustadt crossing point in the 6th Constabulary sector.
--Ritter / USAREUR Historian
 
 
At top, interior view of the barracks area and at bottom, the back gate.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
       
 
In 1949, following major exercises and reconfiguration to a full combat unit, the 3rd battalion, 14th ACR returns to Harris Barracks.
--Ritter / USAREUR Historian
 
         

Get the tanks!

As the Cold War began in the late 1940s, the lightly armed Constabulary forces were seen as no match for any possible Soviet attack. These units had been through several different reorganizations and the logical step was to initially rebuild combat units from select Constabulary forces. The 14th Constabulary Regiment was redesignated as the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment and directed to reconfigure under a combat unit MTO & E on 7 October 1948. The 10th Constabulary Squadron in Fritzlar was redesignated as the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry, the 1st Constabulary Squadron was moved to Schweinfurt and redesignated as the 2nd Squadron and in Coburg, the 6th Constabulary Squadron was redesignated as the 3rd Squadron, 14th Cavalry.

While still under the Constabulary command structure, the 14th Cavalry drew M24 and M26-46 tanks, ½ tracks and all the other equipment authorized to a combat unit. They embarked on a vigorous training program to insure proficiency with both equipment and tactics and otherwise were relieved of normal Constabulary police and civil functions. LTC Charles A. Corcoran, in command of the now designated 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 14th ACR, road marched through gates at Hindenburg for seven straight weeks in the field and on the ranges. Upon return, there was a major rotation of personnel to the US and Major Van Duyn assumed command.
 

         
 
Tankers and scouts, happy to be finally home.
--Ritter / USAREUR Historian
 
Main gate to Harris Barracks / Hindenburg Kaserne featuring dual signs once the BGS established their operations.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
       
 
After the 3 - 14 departs in the final days of the Constabulary period, a representation of the site plan at Harris / Hindenburg, the US troops use #1 as the mess, #2 as a company + size barracks and HQ, #3 as PX and #4 as the gym.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
         

Welcome to Camp Harris

On 2 June, 1949, Hindenburg Kaserne was designated as Harris Barracks to honor the actions of 2 Lt James R. Harris, 756th Tank Battalion, who, had posthumously had been awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in combat at Vagney, France, 1944. In summery, his award recalled that after a German raiding party of tanks and infantry had infiltrated US lines and attacked the battalion CP, Harris personally led a counter attack with one tank and a squad of soldiers to engage the superior enemy force. Fighting dismounted, Harris directed the fire of his tank until it was destroyed and continued to lead the squad despite severe wounds. After the sharp fight the German force withdrew and Harris died of wounds prior to evacuation.

The following year, the 3 -14 moved to Fritzlar and in 1952, to Bad Hersfeld. In Coburg, the first of many different US Army units arrived to call Camp Harris home.

         
 
From the Gray Bell collection, service at Camp Harris with the 2/14 ACR sometime in 1970.
 
         

The 3rd ACR assumed the border mission along the long southern portion of border running from Germany to Czechoslovakia and ending at the Austrian border for much of the 1950s. Also during this period, the Blackhorse Regiment, deployed to Germany as a Gyroscope unit, had their first experiences on the border to the far southeast. Troop sized units from 3 ACR were rotated from Bamberg to Coburg during this period and in 1958, the 2nd ACR assumed the mission. 3 ACR returned to the United States. For the next thirty years, a wide variety of VII Corps company sized units passed through the gates and border mission at Camp Harris.

Willkommen BGS ...

The West German internal security agency tasked with border security, the Bundesgrenzschutz, BGS, was formally authorized and funded for staffing in 1951 and early on located units at Hindenburg Kaserne. For much of the Cold War, they occupied 2/3rds of the available space at the barracks. The Americans recall it as an amicable relationship. By 1987, for example, Hindenburg Kaserne was home to both BGS Southern Command "South 1" training unit and the active border surveillance "Guard Battalion South 2". Erwin Ritter began his BGS career at Hindenburg Kaserne. Along with the normal BGS observation functions along the border, they also monitored the activities at the Neustadt crossing point, although as with Eussenhaussen in the Eaglehorse sector, the crossing point was primarily a Zoll operation.

Into the 1960s ...

There are areas still unclear in the story of Camp Harris as we reach the mid 1960s. The 2 ACR had assumed the border run in southern Germany and Czechoslovakia and in 1966, the 2/14 ACR in Bad Kissingen was detached from the parent regiment and formally attached to the 2 ACR. This brought the border responsibilities in line with existing Corps boundaries in the event of war. Of the troopers we have interviewed, they fall into two distinct camps and it is odd how memories
vary.

Former officers and enlisted men alike recall Coburg and Camp Harris as either a normal border responsibility for the scouts from Daley or, as a camp they only used on occasion, when the 2 ARC could not send a Troop due to major training activities such as Level 1 gunnery. Either way, enough trips to Coburg occurred to be recalled by several different troopers from 1966-1972. In 1970, Terry Smith of Troop G, 2/14 ACR, recalls Camp Harris and border duty at Coburg.

Terry Smith:

"In my days it was called just Coburg or Camp Coburg and as a general rule they split the Troop up with about half to Wollbach and the other half to Coburg. Don't remember a lot about Coburg other than I was surprised the first and only time I was there because they had permanent billets just like at Daley. I figured it would be like Wollbach but I do remember a lot of guys telling me that I would really like Coburg and they were right about that. That place was what all border duty should have been like! It had permanent barracks and was really very nice."

"While I was there, we occupied OP 20 and there were two others 21 & 22. OP 20 was directly across the border from a village with a communal barn if my memory serves me right. One day on OP duty we were observing the fields around the East German village and the farmers were chopping hay and harvesting it. That struck me as being a little different because were I'm from up in Minnesota, they chop the hay and let it dry in the fields before they harvest it. I talked to one of the guys I was pulling duty with, can't remember his name, but I remember his face ... he was always STRAC looking even after 24 hours on the border .... the rest of us would look like we got dumped out of a duffel bag."

         
 
Nice view of an unknown cavalry platoon as it moves into Camp Harris in the early 1950s. The left file features scout section jeeps, then M41 tanks, M75 mortar carriers and finally the infantry squad ½ track. Second file, more of the same plus the support wheels.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt

 
       
 
A few years later, the equipment has changed as another unidentified scout unit, jeeps, M58 APCs and M48 tanks visible, occupies Camp Harris. This would probably be about 1960.
--Hans-Jürgen Schmidt
 
         

"I was b's ing with the guy about how the Germans on the other side were harvesting the hay and hauling it to the communal barn without letting it dry in the fields. He was from NY City so he did not understand what I was talking about and asked me to explain. I told him how green hay, if it is wet and put up without being dried, was known to spontaneously combust and that farmers where I was from just didn't do that unless it was a really wet Summer. I asked him if there had been a lot of rain while I was gone on leave and they said "no", so I just racked it up as another strange thing that the krauts do."

"Well ... about three hours later I was looking at the communal barn and I thought I saw smoke, just a wisp and I told the other guy and we both watched the barn. Within 15-20 minutes the whole damn barn was burning and this was the biggest barn I had ever seen ... it had to be at least 400 feet long. When it became apparent that the krauts were going to have a 20 alarm fire we started sending in a spot reports and kept sending them in every time something happened ... we reported each fire truck that arrived etc. It was the most exciting time I'd ever had on the border!"

"Jesus did that barn burn. When everything ended and we were relieved the next day, what had happened was the talk of the Troop and I got all the credit for pointing out to one my buddies that this had a high potential for happening. We told and retold that adventure over a lot of beers."

BG (Ret) Mike O'Connell, SCO of the 2/14 ACR, recalled that as part of the re-flag in 1972, he was happy to be rid of the duel camp requirement. With a smaller sector, he wanted the entire Troop committed to a single camp for the border rotation and this led to a serious look at Camp Wollbach for expansion.

The 14th ACR re-flagged to the 11th ACR in 1972 , the Second Squadron returned to the Blackhorse the following year, only after much discussion and negotiation between V Corps and VII Corps. There were a number of issues at stake, the Corps boundaries in the event of war and the ability of the 2 ACR to stretch and observe a seemingly ever growing length of border while still maintaining all aspects of combat readiness were major talking points. A search began for new units to be included in the observation mission to assist the 2 ACR.

At Coburg, responsibilities ended for the troopers of the Blackhorse. It appears that the Coburg sector became the responsibility of 2nd Squadron, 2 ACR as one of two forward border camps. Early on, the 3-7 Cavalry Squadron, divisional cavalry of the 3rd Infantry Division located in Schweinfurt, was tasked to support the mission. In the old divisional structure with three ground Troops in the unit, it was a burden but there was plenty of augmentation assistance available from other battalions in Schwienfurt.

The otherwise excellent William E. Staley study of US border Operations in Germany on line at the Center for Military History,

http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/documents/BorderOps/content.htm

does not address in any detail this period at Camp Harris. It does state that the placement of the 3-7 Cav under 2 ACR control for border operations did not officially occur unit September 1977. Perhaps in the immediately previous years there had been a less formal command structure.
Bob Suckman recalls border duty at Coburg with the 3-7 Cav during the 1972-1974 period.

"A few weeks before we were to be deployed, we would start hours of classroom training and review. We would learn recognition of Warsaw Pact military equipment, such as uniforms, personal weapons, vehicles, planes and helicopters. We would learn how to complete the necessary paperwork for our particular jobs: spot reports, weather reports, vehicle status reports. We would learn how to use the code books and properly decipher messages. We would also go over proper radio procedure. We would learn how to read maps, terrain features, grid coordinates."

"The vehicles that we were going to be taking with us, were all thoroughly checked and given high priority for needed parts to bring them up snuff, even appearance wise. If I remember correctly, we would take jeeps, 1/4 ton trucks, M113 APCs, M114 scout tanks, Sheridan tanks, tank retrievers, 2 1/2 ton trucks. We also took an array of weapons with us: 45 pistols, M16 rifles, M60 machine guns, 50 caliber machine guns, LAWS and I think grenade launchers. Of course we took all the ammo that went with the weapons and weapon systems."

"Coburg was the Taj Mahal of border camps. Big, white, clean, and well maintained buildings. The grounds were well kept, with nice lawns and shrubs. Compared to a camp I was at on the Czech border, Coburg was a resort. Upon arrival at Camp Harris, we would relieve the previous unit there, and be briefed. Road patrols would consist of two jeeps with 6 to 8 troopers assigned. Each jeep would have a driver, gunner and patrol leader/observer. Each jeep would have a combat load of 45s, M16s, M60 machine guns, grenades and ammunition."

"Everyday, a patrol would be sent out at different times of the day. Patrols would last anywhere from 8-12 hours. There were several different patrol routes that could be set up. The patrol had specific check points that they had to go to and they had to dismount and observe the border and report back to base any activity, civilian or military, also weather reports. They could get no closer than 10 meters to the actual border. They had to stay at each check point a specified amount of time. Arrival and departure times had to be recorded. Upon return to camp, the patrols would turn in their equipment and ammo, finish the paperwork and be debriefed. We had 3 patrol units, so each patrol would have a patrol day, a day off and a day for details, work on vehicles and other such activities."

"Observation posts were manned 24/7, with a 24 hour shift per team. If I remember right, each team consisted of around 8 people. I think 4 troopers were assigned as guards and 4 were assigned as observers. I'm not sure of the numbers, but you get the idea. The guards were assigned to patrol the road entrance to the OP and were armed with a M16 and a telephone connected to the OP."

"The observers would watch the area to the front of the OP and call in ' Spot Reports ' of any activity, civilian or military, to the Operations Center back at Camp Harris. OPs were usually located in a wooded area on top of a hill. The area being observed usually was a well traveled road or area of military activity. The OPs were set up with an area in the front of the post for observation equipped with radios and telephone, binoculars, scope, map and manuals. The back area of the OP was for troopers to sleep when they were off."

"Along with Spot Reports, the OP would send back weather information. Spot Reports and Weather Reports were on a standard form and were relayed back to Operations by line number.

Hot meals were transported to the OP by support personnel from the Troop. On occasion, a special team of soldiers trained in the use of night vision scopes and listening devices, would set up at night along side the OP and use their equipment to observe the border. Remember, this was back in 1971 and the Army wasn't equipped yet with all the modern night vision devices as it is now. Upon being relieved in the morning, by another team, the team would turn in the paperwork and be debriefed. The OP was armed with the same basic equipment as a road patrol. I think each team had their own jeeps and kept them on sight in case they had to leave in a hurry (not sure of this point)."

"The Border Operations Center at Camp Harris was manned 24/7 by an Operations Sergeant and an assistant/runner. The center is where the patrols and Observation Posts call in the spot reports to. The reports come in by line number for ease of reporting and recording. The Op Sgt. checks accuracy of coordinates and completeness of report and then calls in the report to the next link in the chain, Nurnburg. The time of receiving the report and sending the report back out are recorded in the log book. The report needs to be sent back out in a timely manner or the information is not worth anything. Weather reports are also called in the same manner. Contact must be maintained with the patrols and the OP's. If nothing comes in from either, communication checks had to be made at least once an hour and recorded."

"The operation center had 3 teams, 24 hours on and 48 hours off. The center had phones to the OP's and Nurnburg and radios to the OP's and patrols and to Nurnburg. Also in the Operations Center, was a Crypto room and operator. No one had admittance to this area but the operator. There was also a room set up for debriefing of the patrols and OP's and briefings of any visiting commanders. The Operations Sgt. was also in charge of the code books and passwords making sure they were secured."

"In case of an invasion, the Operations Center had to be maintained to the very end, to continue sending in reports from patrols and ops. If possible, a helicopter would be sent to pull us out at the last possible moment (yeah right). The Crypto operator had explosives to destroy the center and all its contents. The Cav had an expected life span of about 10 minutes under a full invasion. We were to report what was coming, from where and to where. Real comforting to know we were expendable but what we did would give the rear areas time to repel an invasion and slow it down. As I look back on it now, I liked the cav assignment in Schweinfurt and I enjoyed the border, it really opened your eyes."

The constant requirement for a unit at Camp Harris led to new opportunities for VII Corps units. To relieve some of the burden from the divisional cavalry squadron in Schweinfurt, a heavy augmentation plan was developed which gave soldiers who might otherwise have never seen the border an opportunity to participate in the surveillance mission. Erwin Ritter had a chance to visit the office of the USAREUR Historian and go through files related to the US Army and the border mission. He found an article from the First Armor Division newspaper,"Ironsides", dated September 23, 1983 titled: "Blowout! Infantrymen react at a moment's notice" From this article,

"The 1-6 Infantry soldiers spent 28 days at Camp Harris guarding 160 kilometers of the East-West German border. While many of them had pulled duty before on the Czech border at Camp Pitman, this was something new for the soldiers. ... ' When we were offered the mission of augmenting the border, I jumped at the chance,' said Captain Steve Herbert, Company Commander. ' It's a CO's dream ... all the training you get up here-soldier combat skills, terrain walks, learning the border itself, maintenance and sustainment NCOPD classes and interfacing with the German agencies.'".

The article continued with several photos to detail life at Harris and the mission from the perspective of several different soldiers. An extensive train-up period had first been conducted to insure that all aspects of the border mission were thoroughly understood by the entire unit. To a man, the interviewed soldiers commented that it was a great experience and certainly opened their eyes to the reality of the East-West conflict.

Also appearing in the records of the USAREUR Historian was a mid 80s summery report from the 3rd Infantry Division reflecting the reorganization of subordinate units to Division 86 configuration and the transition of the cavalry squadron to the new MTO & E featuring only two ground Troops and two air Troops. Specific paragraphs detailed the major training events of the 3 -7 Cav to include winning the Flynn Challenge Cup, a VII Corps competition testing border unit readiness, knowledge and professionalism. A few years later, Gary M. Tobin recalls the continued involvement of the 3-7 Cav on the border

Col (Ret) Gary M. Tobin:

"I commanded the 3-7 Cav in 1986-1988 and recall border operations at Camp Harris. The squadron was in the Division 86 configuration so we had two ground Troops and two Air Troops. The rotation had been greatly expanded to meet the requirements and I certainly recall the infantry battalion in Schweinfurt and perhaps the tank battalions as well sending companies or teams to Camp Harris. But having said this, there also were times my squadron assumed the entire border mission of the 2 ACR. We would staff all of their camps and perform the mission when they departed for gunnery or major maneuver training."

"We had an excellent Border Officer living in Coburg and a very good training program had been developed to insure that as a company or team deployed to the border, they were fully trained. As a unit went to Harris, it reported to the 2 ACR. In our sector was a legal crossing point at Neustadt and that was always interesting."

"I do not recall using any fixed OPs at the time, I believe everything was done in the Humvees and of course, we had plenty of air assets as well. My recollection is that it was a smooth running operation but one day, a tour bus full of American wives from somewhere in Germany took a wrong turn and ended up in the 1 K zone. Our patrol came upon them and escorted them to the camp. I guess we would have liked to have found a way to just get them on the right path but ... this was a serious incident in the SOP so we couldn't depart from the rules. I'm sure it gave them all quite a story to tell!"

"The border was something of a distraction to all the other things we wanted to get done, but it did give the troopers a chance to see something they otherwise would have missed and it did build espit de' corps. If I had the choice to remove the squadron from border responsibility, I never would have done it. It was a great opportunity for the entire chain of command."

The end of the border mission came in 1990 with elements of the redesignated 3-4 Cavalry Squadron at Camp Harris. The Hindenburg Kaserne area was returned to full German control in April of that year. The BGS continued to maintain a presence there for a while but in the mid 1990s, a reorganization led to the closing of that facility. We searched for on line articles in the German press related to further developments and found that as expected, the closing and attempts of local politicians to bring the BGS back had been matters of great local concern.

A lengthy article detailed Coburg civil police conducting major training exercises in a part of the Hindenburg Kaserne complex and we noted, that along with Samba and jazz, baseball has found a niche home in Coburg. One on line notice called attention to the local Coburg baseball team conducting Winter practices in the former BGS gym. I guess the "three-six-three double play" would be translated as the "drei-sechs-drei Doppelaus".

The Roman empire left coins and spear points all over the world, the British empire spread English and common law where it passed and the Americans, as empire builders always the most bashful and willing to leave when the job was done, left behind baseball.

The barracks area that was in constant use from the Constabulary days to the end of the Cold War, basically unchanged from the mid 1990s and certainly recognizable, now waits for redevelopment. The baseball field is well maintained. Play ball!!
 

 
 

Eaglehorse Squadron Border Personnel and Activities

 
 


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Reaction Force was staffed with each new  24 hour border mission team.  It consisted of an E6 with at least a three man crew manning an M113.   They attended the morning briefing, drew ammunition and remained in or near their M113 parked opposite the Border Operations Center for the day.  The border camp OIC would call this force to alert and conduct an  inspection once during the day to  insure readiness.  The camp siren system signaled the alert.  In the event of  loss of communication with a US element on the border or any other border related emergency,  the Reaction Force was called out and prepared to move.   Communication related problems could normally be fixed by the stand - by jeep deploying to high ground between Camp Lee and the border to serve as a relay.  

Regimental Border Operations, however, had its own border readiness inspection program and would, on occasion,  visit OP Sierra and direct the team to not answer standard radio checks.  They would then time the period between the loss of communication and the arrival of the Reaction Force.  Inspections of this type continued through at least 1979.  As new equipment was fielded to the Eaglehorse, the M113 was replaced by an M3. 

Stand-By jeep and driver  were used by the camp OIC to monitor and assist the border observation mission. The driver attended the morning briefing.   OP Sierra was visited at least twice per day by the OIC to inspect readiness and to feed the team.  US patrol also would be fed at least once and any other units on the trace were checked.  The jeep was also used to establish observation along the border as the situation demanded.  

Border Operations Center  at Camp Lee provided quality control and oversight of the patrols and OP's along the border.  The center, staffed by an E6, E5 and junior enlisted runner, maintained radio communication with all border deployed troops.  As spot reports came in by FM or land line, they were placed in written format,  reviewed for completeness and  passed via unsecure line to the Squadron Border Operations Center at Daley Barracks.  The center also maintained an accurate situation map  to monitor "who / where / what" in the Eaglehorse sector and a "time-event"  log of all significant border activities.  The tour of duty was 24 hrs; the NCO's remained awake, the runner could rest if not otherwise employed.  Often, the camp OIC would "sit in"  at the Operation Center to maintain full awareness of the border mission status.   

Squadron Border Operations Center   Located in a secured space adjacent to the S2 shop at Daley Barracks, the Squadron Border Operations Center maintained radio and land line communication with the Camp Lee operations center.  The SBOC was staffed 24 /7  in eight hour shifts by an E6 and E5.  They received spot reports and other information from  Camp Lee, reviewed for completeness and passed the reports  to Regimental Border Operations in Fulda  expeditiously via land line.  They maintained logs, situational maps of the border area and drafted daily and weekly consolidations of US patrolling activities and spot reports.  They maintained FM and AM radio links to Fulda.
 

Border Camp Custodian:  
 This  position was  filled as necessary to provide NCO oversight to the administrative aspects of the day to day operations of Camp Lee.  Usually filled by an E6 or E7, the custodian had quarters at the camp but usually spent weekends  in Bad Kissingen.  The custodian  checked on the HHT medics and wheel vehicle mechanic at the camp,  identified and repaired facility related problems and coordinated with Facility Engineers at Daley Barracks for problems beyond his capabilities.   He assisted in the transfer of the camp from unit to unit.  

Squadron Border NCO:  
   Usually an E6 or E7, this  NCO was a key player  in the instruction, coordination  and quality control efforts of the Eaglehorse squadron border mission.  This was a demanding position requiring complete knowledge of all aspects of the border mission.  He operated independently with a driver to teach, inspect and assist  the unit currently  assigned to Camp Lee as well as train select  personnel  of the next unit in rotation.  He interacted on a daily basis with squadron staff, the border unit and  West German border observation and policing units.  The Border NCO reported to the Squadron Border Officer.

The Squadron Border Officer:  was a special staff position filled as necessary, reporting to the SXO on all border camp and  surveillance operational and administrative issues.  The position was normally filled by a first lieutenant or captain.  The Border Officer was responsible for the activities of the Border NCO, the custodian,  staffing and operations of the SBOC.  He worked to coordinate with  and assist  units, squadron staff, Regimental Border Operations and outside civil,  military and German agencies with an interest in the Eaglehorse  border surveillance mission, facilities and real property. 
 
         
 
LT Mitchell in The Stand-By jeep during one 
of the twice daily inspections of OP Sierra, 
Spring 1980 --Mitchell
 
LT Bob Stefanowicz, Squadron Border Officer, 
Spring 1980 --Mitchell
 
       
 
The Border Operations Center, Camp Lee --Sommerkamp
 
Eye witnesses to history, December 1989. Eaglehorse Border Officer and Border NCO, respectively  CPT La Vulo, center,  and SG Roberts,  with officers of the BGS  near Melpers in the northern run of the Eaglehorse sector.  Border Troop engineers cut the first of many roads  through the barrier system to open the East German border.     --Ritter
 
         
 
The G Troop Reaction Force being inspected by the Troop Commander, CPT Terry Campbell, Spring, 1980 --Mitchell
 
         


 

 
 

The "New" Border Observation Posts

 
 


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Jack Tartella, Eaglehorse S2 in 77 - 78, relates the following about the " new " border observation posts in sector:  the plan was driven by  one of the chiefs of Facilities Engineering in Schweinfurt.  Daley Barracks was their responsibility and they also had responsibility for the off barracks sites.  The guy couldn't believe that the Army used such a " dump " as an OP and he had a plan to update things.  There were many problems, however, not the least of which was, the Cav was a V Corps unit and the management of real property in Schweinfurt / BK was a VII  Corps responsibility.  There were also problems in land acquisition and design of the  "new" OP's. 
 
As Border Officer, I saw the  squadron copy of the plan in 1979.  It existed as a file folder about 3/4 inch thick detailing all the memos, plans and discussions.  Twice I  sat in at meetings on this issue,  in Schweinfurt and at the BGS Barracks; attending were representatives of USAREUR, Schweinfurt FE and Real Property, the BGS and others.  There were discussions covering highly detailed plans to compensate  German farmers for the loss of land involved in the OP plan,  how and when trash would be picked up, control of land pollution from oil / diesel leaks, a plan to compensate the farmer if " the US force fires a flare ... and the expended flare falls into a pasture .... and a cow eats this and dies .... who will pay and how much ".   Also under discussion was the design. The BGS didn't want anything that resembled an East German bunker / tower.  Jack Tartella had warned me that  " the plan existed before he got to BK and would exist after you leave ... " and he was absolutely correct.  When I left the job in 1980,   although the file was a little thicker, the plan seemed no closer to execution .   How wrong I was.
 
Four new border OP's were built in 1984 - 85 in the Eaglehorse sector. They had a unique design that did not resemble anything seen in the DDR and clearly were a marked improvement.  All four buildings followed the same blueprint.  From north to south, OP 10 by Bruchs - Fladungen, OP Tennessee in  place of OP Sierra, OP 12  by Sondheim and OP 13 near Breitensee.  Of the four, Tennessee was staffed by US forces 24 / 7; the other OP's were manned periodically.  The BGS also had keys to these buildings and conducted their own observation program.  When the border mission ended, all traces of the OP's were removed.
         
 
M3 by OP Tennessee hardstand, 1989.    
--
SSG Favia
 
OP 12 by Sondheim as seen from the edge of the border.   
--Ritter
 
         
 
OP 10 as seen from above; the barrier fence immediately to the front.    
--Ritter
 
SSG Favia, Squadron Border NCO, snaps photo of patrolling GAKs immediately in front of new OP 10 as GAKs take his picture. --Favia
 
         
 
OP 10 as photographed by a GAK, 1988.
--Ritter
 
     
 
     
 

Air Assets Along the Eaglehorse Border

 
 


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Detached from Air Troop, 4/11 ACR in Fulda, was one OH 58 scout helicopter, pilot, crew chief and mechanic. This aircraft was maintained at the flight strip in the Reiterswiesen training area, about five kilometers from Daley Barracks. As weather and maintenance permitted, the aircraft with an observer made daily flights of the complete squadron sector. The observer varied,  Border NCO, Border Officer and S2 all had opportunities. Standard spot report procedures were followed. The pilots took great pride in their ability to follow the convoluted path of the border at high speed and low altitude. 
 
The Regimental Border NCO flew our sector on occasion from Fulda and sent spot reports.
 
Also seen in  the Eaglehorse area  were Cobra aircraft on training missions  from Air Troop. Normally they were back from the trace and seldom reported East German activity. 

Several times each week through the late 1980's, an Army fixed wing OV-1D from  airfields in Hanau or Stuttgart flew the border trace. The aircraft carried a SLAR [side looking area radar] boom which among other capabilities, could detect magnetic changes along the scanned path. Massed Soviet armor near the border but otherwise camouflaged, for example, could be detected by the magnetic signature. The boom also contained radio intercept and location sensors. In the event of a crisis, the frequency of flights could surge to several missions per day.

         
 
OV1D with SLAR boom on runway 
apron.
 
The flight strip and OH 58 at 
Reiterswiesen, Bad Kissingen. 
Aircraft preps for a border flight
 
         
 
Cobra aircraft, Eaglehorse sector,
low pass.
 
     
 
     
 

Bundesgrenzschutz - The German Federal Border Agency

 
 


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The BGS was established in 1951 under the Interior Ministry as the western allies allowed Germany to establish a national police force to secure borders, air and seaports. The previous year, the new customs service had been established, and Bundeswehr would follow in 1955. These measures insured the sovereignty and stability of the Federal Republic of Germany.

         
 
BGS Officer at left and a GAK Captain on the border. The BGS carried side arms on patrol with machine pistols in their vehicle. -- Ritter
 
BGS patrol observes the border. --Ritter
 
         

The BGS evolved through the years; in addition to border security, it assumed civil control and anti riot functions to assist urban police, was granted police power along the railway system and the GS9 “Special Operations“ sub unit was created for anti terrorist missions. By 1976 it was separated from the German draft system and became an all volunteer police force.

The BSG routinely patrolled the border on foot, in vehicles, from the air and staffed fixed observation points. They were the experts in observing and cataloging the actions of the East German Border Troops and had a complete understanding of the barrier system. When East German engineers went into the Spring and Summer construction phase, members of the BGS were highly visible and would monitor the open barrier daily. Eaglehorse troopers were very familiar with the BGS and would exchange a friendly wave. In the late 1970's and early 1980's, the unit at Camp Lee and the BGS would conduct a joint patrol once per month. In the mid and late 1980's closer coordination and more frequent joint patrols occurred.

         
 
Part of the BGS Barracks at Oerlenbach in 1989. Some of the barracks space is being used to hold refugees from the East. --Ritter
 
Joint US and BGS Patrol in 1988, Eaglehorse personnel, center, CPT Dan La Vulo, Border Officer and to right, SSG Tom Favia, Border NCO.
--Ritter
 
         

The BGS officers seen in the Eaglehorse sector came from the barracks at Oerlenbach, just south of Bad Kissingen. Their patrol responsibility ran from our northern boundary by Melpers to well into the 2/2 ACR sector in the southeast. Depending upon the level of activity, between 16-30 officers deployed each day to observe. They routinely coordinated actions with the German Customs Police, the Bavarian Border Police and the US military. Spot reports were sent from their helicopter patrols and when observing East German operations such as fence construction and mine clearing. As the BGS became aware of East German SIGINT operations, they switched to reporting by telephone.

     
 
An Eaglehorse Award Certificate signed by then SCO, LTC M.G. O'Connell, awarded to BGS personnel after participation in a joint pistol shooting competition at the Rottershausen range complex, not too far from Orelenbach, SE of BK. Rottershausen, a large 3rd ID ASP also had ranges and facilities that I believe were jointly used by BGS and US forces. The ASP is closed but the other areas are still in active BGS use.
--Ritter
 
     
 
Joint BGS/US Patrol. Ritter
 
     

Once the barrier system came down and Germany reunited, the BGS absorbed some units of the former East German Border Troops that were involved with security along the Polish and Czech border. Other former BT units brought into the BGS helped dismantle the barrier and mine system along the former inner German border. In the immediate years that followed, however, almost all former East Germans were separated from the BGS. The BGS barracks at Oerlenbach is still operational as a training center / police academy. They conduct a portion of their driver's training course on the former US airstrip at Reiterswiesen.

         
  Ted Prescott  
  Here are pictures from the BGS & E Troop tank driver training in 1984-1985 time frame. We were at gunnery so we had the BGS come out when we had some time off. Dieter Griebling was the commander for the BGS at this time.  
         
     
     
     
     
         
 
     
 

Bayerische Grenzpolizei - Bavarian Border Police

 
 


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The Bavarian Border Police, BBP, was a branch of the ' Country Police ' in the West German state of Bavaria. As in many rural areas, civil police patrolling is conducted regionally . This is similar to sheriff operations in the rural American midwest and southwest. The BBP was developed in 1945 to assist US constabulary operations in refugee, smuggling control and law enforcement along the Bavarian border area. They soon became fully independent and were responsible to the Justice Minister of Bavaria for the enforcement of civil law along a belt thirty kilometers deep in the border area. In the Eaglehorse sector, the belt appeared to be about twenty kilometers deep. Normally, the BBP did not have border observation responsibilities, however, because they were in daily contact with the West Germans living in the small towns and villages in the immediate border area, they had a wealth of knowledge. They exchanged information with the BGS and Customs Police on a daily basis.

As coordination between all border activities improved in the mid 1980's, they attended monthly meetings with the BGS and 2/11 ACR . In our sector, the BBP had offices in Fladungen, Mellrichstadt and Bad Konigshoffen. The German state of Hesse, northwest of our sector, had a similar rural border police. After the border fell, the BBP was integrated into the Bavarian Country Police with the exception of a small detachment operating at the international airport in Munich.

     
 
A GAK foto of a BBP patrol in the far southeastern 
part of our sector. The BBP officers are 
from Coburg. Ritter
 
     
 
     
 

Border Resident Office - BRO

 
 


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The Border Resident Office program was part of a USAREUR plan to aid the cavalry units on the border with additional Army intelligence and translator assets culled from Divisional and Corps units. The BRO program maintained offices in several close border towns in the 2nd ACR and 11th ACR sectors; the office in support of the Eaglehorse was in Bad Neustadt. The personnel of the BRO office worked in civilian clothes and had close contact with the BGS, Zoll, BBP. The program went through several changes as missions and organizations of intelligence units evolved. The BRO office in Bad Neustadt was closed in 1981 with the personnel pulled back to their parent units. Later, it was re-opened with personnel from the 108th MI Company.

 
     
 

Grenzzolldienst - Border Customs Police

 
 


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The German customs police were the first national law enforcement activity re-established after the end of World War ll. The allies needed assistance in controlling smuggling and refugees along the border, and the Grenzzolldienst was reconstituted as an active force. In the very early days of the inner German border, they were very active, however, as the barrier system became more efficient, smuggling stopped and they tended to other customs related duties on the normal international borders and ports. They continued to maintain a small presence along the Iron Curtain.
German Federal Customs Website

When the crossing point at Eussenhausen was opened in 1972, the Zoll began to play a more active role in the Eaglehorse area. They primarily coordinated with the BGS and BBP. On occasion, joint patrols were conducted with 2/11 ACR troopers, however, at least through 1981, there was no set schedule.

In the mid and late 1980's, the Zoll Police became more active along the border trace with their own patrolling program and more frequent contact with Camp Lee.

         
 
Joint patrol Eaglehorse troopers and Z
oll as photographed by a GAK in 1989.
--Erwin Ritter
 
Shown here is the Zoll Control Point on 
the Bavarian side of the border at Eussenhausen. Customs Police would check the papers of civilian travelers and manifest / loads of commercial trucks; a small scale operation in comparison with the massive inspection station just down the road in East Germany.
--Erwin Ritter
 
         
 
A member of the Zoll works with his
dogs in the Eaglehorse sector.
 
     
 
     
 

11 November 1989: The Border Barrier System Opens

 
 


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The late 1980’s were a period of amazing change in central Europe. In the Soviet Union, Gorbachev had begun a new initiative of political ”openess” and the communist governments of the Warsaw Pact came under intense pressure from within to likewise reform and adopt more democratic traditions. Once the reform programs began, however, one by one, the governments began to lose control over populations seeking the political and social freedoms they knew existed in the West.

         
 
US Patrol and possible Squadron Commander with pilot as photographed by a GAK at Breitensee, 1989. All the interest was part of the cutting of new roads through the fence as the border began to open.
--Erwin Ritter
 
Discussion of the new crossing point between Trappstadt and Eicha in Dec 89. Seen in profile at left, Chief of the Bavarian Border Police from Munich. Then in center, senior BGS Officer from Oerlenbach and Officer Ritter. Then profile at right, senior Border Troop Commander. Meeting started with stony faces, then everyone smiled and got on with business.
--Erwin Ritter
 
         

At first, in the DDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia, the governments responded with riot police in an attempt to stop popular unrest. Soon, however, massive strikes and continued demonstrations began to topple the old style communist regimes and reform leadership took control. The Soviet Union had experienced little unrest during this period but informed the nations behind the Iron Curtin that no Russian military intervention to quell political demonstrations should to be expected.

East Germany during the middle and late 1980's suffered severe internal difficulties. The economy was faltering badly, soldiers were pressed into service to help harvest the crops. Unemployment and popular unrest had grown dramatically. During an October 1989 visit by Gorbachev, massive demonstrations occurred and to save the socialist government, the long term leader, Eric Honecker stepped down and was replaced by a reformer, Egon Krenz. During this period of unrest, thousands of East Germans had already begun to flee to Austria through borders opened by Hungary. Realizing this situation could not continue, Krenz first tried to halt the flow, then adopted a plan to open the borders of the DDR on a regulated basis.

         
 
Opening of the new crossing point at Fladungen - Melpers, December 89.
--Erwin Ritter
 

So ... it ends with a picnic. The following day, we met again for an out door lunch by Filke. On left side, two Officers from the BT and SSG Roberts from the 2/11 ACR. Then standing at center, Herr Habel of BGS, American MI from BRO, Herr Landgraf of BBP, Zoll Officer and finally, Herr Karch of BGS.
--Erwin Ritter

 
         

Krenz agreed to first open the border along the Berlin Wall, then establish new crossing points along the Inner German Border. His government gambled that if free access was opened to the West, people might initially be interested, but would soon return to their homes in the DDR. He had other reforms planned and believed that two Germanys could continue to co - exist. The original plan allowed for the Border Troops to supervise and control passage to the West. As tens of thousands began to flee through the openings in the first few days, it became apparent that control and documentation was virtually impossible.

         
 
Construction of the crossing point at Fladungen, November 89. At left is Senior Officer Herr Griebling of the BGS. He is talking with CPT La Vulo
--Erwin Ritter
 
Spring 1990, new crossing road by Trappstadt.
--Erwin Ritter
 
         

For Border Troop engineer units, who for decades had helped build, maintain and upgrade the barrier system, the mission for the first week of November, 1989, was to cut new roads through the fences to allow passage to the Federal Republic of Germany. The troopers of the Eaglehorse Squadron were eye witnesses to history as the border began to come down.

         
 
Temporary control point at Trappstadt.
--Erwin Ritter
 
 
East German traffic streams to the West through the new crossing point at Fladungen, December 1990.
--Erwin Ritter
 
         

In our sector, new major crossing points were built at Fladungen - Melpers and Trappstadt - Eicha. These points, once built, were open 24 hrs per day. Other, less substantial points were built along the border where pre existing roads once had existed. Many of these smaller points were only opened on weekends.

         
 
Another view of the " last meal " on the border.
--Erwin Ritter
 
The world turned upside down. Two Border Troops watch the construction of the Fladungen crossing point.
--Erwin Ritter
 
         

Events happened quickly. In late November, FRG Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced a complicated plan to reunify East and West Germany. Over the next months, through a series of elections and reforms, the government of East Germany was disassembled and official reunification was marked on 3 October, 1990.

         
 
After the border opened to more traffic and the political direction became clear, joint patrols were conducted along the border involving all people with an interest in the area. DDR Border Troops walked together with Zoll, BGS, BBP, Americans from the BRO and Eaglehorse to insure agreement and safety in the area. The last joint walk was in May 1990. In the center of this foto can be seen two Officers of the Border Troops and myself. At the left in foto is Herr Karch of BGS, Mr Connley of the BRO and Herr Rebhahn of Zoll. At the right, Herr Pfister of BBP, SSG Roberts of the 2/11 ACR and another American NCO.
--Erwin Ritter