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Partnership Training

You did not have to drive very far from Daley Barracks to find either BGS or Bundeswehr units. The BGS had a large Kaserne at Oerlenbach, only three miles to the southeast; dive a little bit further to the southwest and you would find a Bundeswehr barracks and school at Hammelburg. Heading northeast and towards the border, you could give a wave to the Bundeswehr barracks at Mellrichstadt. Considering all of this so near, it is somewhat odd that more partnership events - joint training or sports competitions did not occur.

Erwin Ritter sent us clippings from the BGS newspaper files that indicate in the 1960s, there was a steady cycle of competitive pistol marksmanship events attended by troopers from Daley and a wide variety of German sharpshooter teams drawn from the military, police, BGS and even private gun clubs. Thru the 1980s, this type of competition continued but really only a few troopers participated. Every now and then, in small groups or even individually - troopers pierced the American bubble surrounding Daley Barracks.

     
 

Joint German – American pistol shoot at Reiterswiesen in 1977.

  1981 - LT Cozzens tries out a German Walther pistol during the competition.  

One memorable joint training initiative in 1976 found a couple of lucky Eaglehorse platoons attending the French Commando School. All went well with the first group from F Troop but during the second iteration , a soldier from Troop E was badly injured and out of circulation for some time - that ended the commando experiment. From a few years later, I have a distant recollection of a couple of Lts going to the West German Army parachute course, or at least a shortened version - something like three days of training followed by two jumps and the awarding of the Bundeswehr jump wings. Something also makes me think that they actually participated in this training while on leave from the squadron.

No good idea ever truly dies, however, and CWO ( ret ) Rick Laws recalls the story of partnership training revived with Fox Troop in the early 1980s and his own excellent adventure with the French Army:

     
 

Looks like a fine spread set out by the German cooks at Mellrichstadt. 

     

I was first assigned to the Eaglehorse in January 1976 as an 11C with a secondary MOS related to unit supply. This led to duty as the Troop TAMMS clerk at Squadron Maintenance, then work in the unit supply room and finally the consolidated S4 shop. I traveled quite a bit, accompanying equipment being turned in, new equipment arrivals, quartering party and rear detachment duties more times than I can recall at Wildflecken and Grafenwoehr; and somewhere in all of this, married a German girl, Monika, and we are still together to this day. I had picked up some pretty good conversational German skills and left BK in 1979.

     
 

Military band in period costume for this affair.

     

I was only 1 ˝ years in the states and returned to the 2/11th in 1981 and stayed until 1983. During this time I spent most of it in F Trp as the supply sergeant. During one of our border tours I was asked if I could go translate at the German (352nd Panzer Grenadier Battalion) at Mellrichstadt. It was assumed they had some rifle ranges and we could get some of our guys at least zero’ed on their M16s. They were extremely pleased that we had interest in asking and I was taken to see their senior 1st Sgt, Herr Schug, who was also the senior NCO of the brigade located in Hammelburg.

We had normally been aligned with the Bundesgrenzschutz as we both had a border mission but it turned out that the 352nd was our right flank unit in the GDP area. It made sense to get to know one another, just in case the Warsaw Pact decided to come west, so F Troop and the 352nd began exchanges of soldiers for rifle shooting, which earned soldiers qualification badges and a chance to get the German Schutzenschnur (shooting rope) which troopers could wear on their Class A uniform while assigned in Germany.

     
         

We exchanged NCOs during REFORGER and had a few parties and some really fun times. During 1982, SGT Phillips and I were invited to accompany the 352nd to train with their French Partnership unit near Belfort France. During this time the 352nd used the Marder Infantry Vehicle which had a 20mm cannon and 7.62 coax. It also had Milan anti-tank missiles and lots of firing ports in the sides and a periscope mounted machine gun facing the rear of the vehicle. We were only hearing about the M3 cavalry vehicle at the time so anytime we got to train on the Marder was quite something.

The French unit was the 35th Infantry Regiment which had AMX-10 APS with 20mm cannons, sort of like M114s. They also had AMX 30 tanks which had a 90mm cannon, sort of like an M48. It was interesting that the AMX 30 had a 50 cal M2 Machine gun as the coax to the main gun. It was a ground mount HB version and simply had a cradle in the turret to pin in the M2 and the barrel stuck out a bit. The French soldiers had an M2 field stripped during an orientation day. I knelt down and, to their amassment reassembled the M2. I flipped down the feed tray cover and it was stamped “US Army”. I pointed to my shirt pocket which also said US Army, and they shook their head in understanding.

     
 

West German Marder

     

We got to shoot most all types of small arms, drive and work on vehicles, road march and have some smaller vehicle FTX type maneuvers in the French training area near Besancon. After the training, we got to play tourists for a while and saw the French sculpture, “ The Lion of Belfort “ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion_of_Belfort , done by the same French sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty. A student group also gave us a tour of the area, and we visited several sites of Roman ruins.

On the whole, it was a great experience.

Dec 2012

     
         
     
 

Couple of views of the French AMX 10 fighting vehicle.

     
         
     
      French AMX 30 tank.  
         
     
     

That’s me, center of frame in the BDUs.  Anyone up for a game of basketball?

 
 
 
         
     
     

That’s the Lion of Belfort statue as best as I could get the shot thru the bus window.

 
         
     
 

Some of the German vehicles we ran into at Wildflecken.

     


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