Return to Border Mission

 

Camp Lee

 
 

Introduction to Camp Lee
Bob Stefanowicz / Ted Prescott / Erwin Ritter

The Eaglehorse border camp dates back to the early days of the Cold War with the assignment of the 2/14 ACR to Daley Barracks and the beginning of the border surveillance mission. The camp, as of 1951, existed as a small patrol base and FM radio relay station. Of the four different 14th ACR yearbooks I have seen, 1952, 54, 55 and 1960, none offer text or photos related to the border camps.

Camp Wollbach was built in stages, it first existed as a "tent city" to support a squad or two. Then as the mission evolved, continuing gradual improvements occurred as the mission evolved and materials and funds became available. The 14th ACR web site reports that the first group of semi permanent buildings was put up in the mid 1960s from "depot scrounged" materials that became available as NATO forces withdrew from France. During this period, the camp was first configured to support an entire cavalry troop deployed from Daley Barracks.

Click on the pictures below to view the stories
 
The camp was renamed Camp Lee in 1976
in honor of 1LT Phillip L. Lee. This is his story . . .
Camp Lee Open House
1987 or 1988?
   

Eaglehorse troopers would remember these buildings as the operations center which also held the briefing area and "old mess hall", the beer hall, day room and arms room. Quonset Hut style barracks buildings were added in this same period and in due course, they were replaced with the blue, pre - fabricated buildings in the early 1970s. The motor shop, concrete hardstand and paved roads were improvements that also date from about 1970. The last major addition to Camp Lee from my period was in early 1978 with the opening of the "new" dining facility.

Staffing at the camp changed as time and circumstances allowed. As of 1980, the camp had a full time custodian assigned from HHT. He lived on site and was responsible for the physical plant as well as providing some oversight to the other HHT personnel, usually two medics in the small dispensary and the border wheel vehicle mechanic. The mess team, responsible for the property and operation of the dining facility, came from the consolidated mess at Daley. The contents of the camp were inventoried and transferred from troop to battery to company in the normal 30 day rotation cycle. Facility Engineers at Daley were called for building problems above the ability of the custodian. Seemingly each tour ended with Reports of Survey initiated to resolve damages to the sheet rock walls of the pre-fab buildings.

Ted Prescott, former E Troop commander and Squadron Border Officer from the mid 1980s picks up the story: Many improvements were made at Camp Lee during my time with the Eaglehorse. The SCO, LTC Ramick, implemented several changes in which we received new barracks, a new beer hall complete with a four foot tall hand carved wooden Blackhorse statue, a motor pool makeover and a patio cookout area outside of the dining facility. As of December of 86, planning was underway for further improvements to include a new Border Operations Center and a new building to house the Reaction Force, Medics and additional administrative space. Construction had not yet begun.

Erwin Ritter of the BGS follows: In the late 1980s, big changes again were made at Camp Lee. The "new" Border Operations Center was built next to the motor shop building and a tall mast to improve FM radio communications was added. The " old " border operations center first was used as storage space and then was torn down. Just as the border mission ended, construction was completed on the "new" gate guard building at the entrance and a new building for the Reaction Force and Camp Lee Dispensary. U.S. forces never used these last two buildings. This was the sequence of events; in November 1989, the border began to open, March 1990, the last use of Camp Lee for Eaglehorse border operations, U.S. patrol was only intermittently run directly from Daley Barracks. In May 1991, a big open house was held and within a month or two, the squadron cleared all property from the camp and it was shuttered. Negotiations began for the return of the site to German control.

For thousands of troopers who passed through Camp Wollbach / Camp Lee in support of the border mission, the memories of the beer hall, of returning from US patrol in the dead of Winter and middle of the night to find hot rations saved, championship horse shoes after formation, USO shows dropping in as well as VIPs from USAREUR, squeezing a cavalry troop on to the hardstand then rolling flawlessly out on alert ... of patrol briefings at 0430 and driving the camp OIC to the OP for a post midnight check, of high stakes poker with the platoon sergeants and being packed into the troop billets to see the Barrier Fence system for the first time the next day ... of gate guard duty and roving guard with a PRC 77, terrible movies handed off at the southern contact point to the first "interesting" movies on VHS tape shown by invitation only in the Learning Center and the siren system calling the Reaction Force to alert .. these are among the most vivid and satisfying memories we troopers share.

Update for Border Camp site

All things change and so to with the site of Camp Wollbach - Camp Lee. Once the camp area was returned to German control, it saw a variety of new uses: a hub for German Boy Scout activity, home for refugees from the East after all the old borders opened, a proposed site for a local museum recalling the East - West German border and now, the site of a local German paint ball venue. The camp has been segmented by a temporary fence, the buildings built in the waning days of U. S. control are off limits to the club, but at least some of the pre-fab barracks buildings and other older “temporary structures” associated with the camp are now pock marked with hundreds of red and yellow paint ball impacts.  

Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized photo

LTC (Ret) Mac Van Hook left and Mayor of Heustreu at placing of Grenztafel at site of Camp Wollbach - Lee in Summer 2005.
 
In English and German, through words and images, the story of the camp and the U.S. Army was recalled. The poster was part of a larger German program throughout the former border area to recall the history of the Cold War and inter - German border barrier system.
 
The Grenztafel is currently missing.
         

The Grenztafel placed just outside of the camp during the 11th - 14th ACR German reunion in 2005 that provided an explanation of the U. S. Army’s use of the area in words and images has gone missing. All of this does not bode well for the future. If the old border camp has reached this level of use, then the wrecker’s ball cannot be too far off but such is the odd way that swords are fashioned to plow shares and spears go to pruning hooks.

(revised Nov 2012)

 

Return to Border Mission