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Grafenwoehr Training Area ( GTA )

Located 40 kilometers north of Hohenfels, Grafenwoehr was for the Eaglehorse and remains to this day, the primary live fire range complex in support of US Army forces in Germany.  In conjunction with the 7th Army Combined Arms Training Center located at Rose Barracks, GTA played a major part in the story of the squadron in Germany. In addition to the maneuver space provided and the full array of live fire ranges, Grafenwoehr and CATC supported the fielding of all major new combat systems in USAREUR to include in their day, M551, M60A3, M1 and M3 as well as many professional development courses and academies to assist officer and NCO development and command readiness. Seemingly every trooper from the Eaglehorse period in Germany has a full array of Graf  "war stories" to tell. They all seem to begin with. "well, first we rail loaded at the BK Bahnhof ...".

     
  Lt Owens, S1, Eaglehorse Forward at GTA during hand off of M60A3.
--Bob Stefanowicz
  G Troop A3, Level 1 gunnery, Table VI, 81.
--Bob Stefanowicz
 

The NCO's from the 2/14th ACR period recall "Graf" as where "stripes were earned or lost on the tank qualification range". Eaglehorse tankers from the early years of the 2/11 ACR recall tank qualification and platoon battle run on Ranges 42 and 79 respectively. Live fire of the Sheridan missile system was on Ranges 5 and 23 to the accompaniment of a full array of civilian and military technicians. Opening times and target closing times were factored in to tank gunnery qualification scores in addition to hitting the target. In pre-76 gunnery, outside monitors listened in to tank crew battle drill conversations and subtracted points for non standard commands. GTA was the last place in Germany where tanks fired service ammunition at target hulks for the long remembered "splash" of sparks and debris when steel hit steel.

For HOW Battery, the critical training event of Live Fire ARTEP and Safe to Fire Certification occurred at GTA; the mortar crews had extensive firing points to practice their trade. As years progressed, the squadron turned in the M60A1 tanks and drew M60A3 at Graf, in the middle 1980's, M1 and M3 were likewise fielded to Eaglehorse with complete training programs for crews and associated personnel.

     
  Rather busy area just behind range.
--Bob Stefanowicz
  Tracer fire streaks towards BMP target form on moving track. Personnel target forms can be seen in foreground.
--Bob Stefanowicz
 

Past and Present

The military history of Grafenwoehr is far longer than Wildflecken or Hohenfels. The first uses of the area to support range and maneuver training date to 1908 with the official opening of the training area listed at 1910. Through the First World War, land acquisition and range construction continued. Following the defeat of Germany, the small army allowed by treaty continued to use Grafenwoehr and with the rise of fascism in the 1930's, the area saw rapid growth as the "new German Army" was created.

As one of the major training areas in support of the Wehrmacht, Grafenwoehr saw the construction of several famous German Army units to include, the 88th and 98th Divisions, the "Blue" Division, consisting of Spanish volunteers, several Italian divisions and major parts of the Africa Corps. Labor camps supported ammunition factories and POW camps also are a part of the war years.

     
  Range tower in support of Table VII during the hand off of M60A3 to Eaglehorse.
--Bob Stefanowicz
  Interior view of tower, Lt Niel is running the " A " course, I am responsible for the " B " night portion. As I recall, for each Troop, there was a week of classroom training with the new A3's, the drivers went to a terrain driving and maintenance courses. Then, off to the ranges finishing with VII and rail load home.
--Bob Stefanowicz
 

The American period began in 1947 and over the next six years, the ranges and facilities were upgraded to make GTA the major hub for tank training supporting US forces. Camps Aachen, Algier and Normandy were built with full billets while Camp Kasserine became the major "tent city" area. Through the 1950's and 60's, a steady flow of US units trained at Graf, ranges were upgraded and the classrooms and motorshops necessary to support fielding of new systems were developed at Rose Barracks.

     
  Brand new A3 on the " A " portion of the course.
--Bob Stefanowicz
  Range 42, tank table VIII, crew qualification, mid 1970's.
--Paul Burckhardt
 

In 1981, the ranges became home to the "Canadian Army Trophy", a tank gunnery contest designed to foster friendly allied competition in tank gunnery. This became a popular event and saw the best crews sent by each NATO nation test their skills and respective tanks. The first year of contest, the US Army M60A3 team finished third behind Leopards fielded by Belgium and West Germany.

     
  M1 training and hand off point as GTA and Rose Barracks supports fielding of new system.
--Paul Burckhardt

NOTE from Rick Laws:
This building is now is the Battalion headquarters (upstairs) and the HHC and B Company motor pool of the 94th Engineer Battalion (Heavy). Lots of bulldozers, graders, scoops and dump trucks. I was the 2/11th S4 Representative for the turn in of the M60 tanks to Mainz and the hand off representative for the M1s. During my last tour in Germany I was the Property Book Officer supporting the 94th Engineer Battalion, in this building.
  Newly fielded M1 takes to the redesigned tank ranges at GTA.
--Paul Burckhardt
 

The following year, as the M1 fielding plan became reality, a major range upgrade program began to support M1 and M2-3. To date, steady improvements and changes have been implemented to keep the ranges of GTA on the cutting edge of technology in support of USAREUR.

   
  M60 night fire with illum
--Tom Sommerkamp
 
 
 


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