Training accidents are a fact of life
in the Army and those leading to a fatality were rare but did happen.
The Eaglehorse suffered one such loss in 1977 and choose to remember a
The Eaglehorse Remembers a Fallen Trooper:
SSG Hale Dining Facility
Anyway you look at it, SSG Raymond S. Hale was one
of the top NCO’s in the Eaglehorse squadron in 1977. He was a Platoon
Sergeant in Troop F and an early designate for the Advanced NCO
Course. The position of Squadron Border NCO was opening and the S3
shop needed an Assistant Ops sergeant. SSG Hale was in active
consideration for both positions and although the final decision had
not yet been made, he was assigned on an interim basis to the S3 shop
and often could be seen taking the CP track out the main gate to sent
up an AM radio relay to Fulda. The squadron was getting ready of
annual gunnery at Grafenwoehr and the final decision would wait until
the unit returned.
SSG Raymond S. Hale. This is a copy
of the photo which was mounted with a plaque designating the Camp
Lee mess hall as "SSG Hale Hall". He was an outstanding NCO.
--Oscar Gill Jr.
This was the final Sheridan gunnery for the
Eaglehorse and both scout and tank crews were busy tuning their skills
on squadron run preparatory ranges. MSG Oscar Gill and SSG Hale
were running the daylight portion of one range and one platoon was
having difficulty with their runs. As night fell, MSG Gill had a
chance to return to the rear area for a shower but SSG Hale
volunteered to stay behind and help out. He knew the range, the
weapons and the procedures very well and felt he could tutor the weak
As night operations began, SSG Hale was monitoring
the runs of Troop G as an AI. At the completion of each run, the
starlight scope mounted on the M2 machinegun was passed along to the
next vehicle prior to proceeding down range along the firing route.
This occurred behind the range tower in the ready area under the
supervision of the Safety NCO. After the first or second run, SSG Hale
went over to the S3 M577 on the range to check in and was leaning
inside the open rear door when a shot fired across the ready area. An
M2 had not been cleared and during the starlight scope transfer, fired
one round. It struck the door hinge of the M577, shattered, one piece
struck Hale in the head killing him instantly.
Back in Bad Kissingen, CPT Tartella, S2 and Rear
Detachment Commander, had the unfortunate duty of informing the Hale
family of the tragedy. SSG Hale left behind a wife and two young
Months later at Camp Lee, the newly built Dining
Facility was open for business. CPT Tarella felt something should be
done to memorialize Hale and after discussion, the naming of the new
building was the natural choice. A plaque was produced with help from
MSG Gill containing a photo of SSG Hale and an inscription designating
the new mess hall as "SSG Hale Hall". The plaque was mounted just
inside the doors at the entrance and remained there until the camp
The fate of this artifact of squadron history is
unknown. The Eaglehorse PAO has not responded to requests as to
whether the item is currently with other 2/11 heritage trophies and
artifacts at Fort Irwin. The dining facility at the former camp is
vacant and included in the parcel currently for sale.
We are grateful to Col (Ret) Jack Tartella, SMJ
(Ret) Oscar Gill Jr. and Ted Prescott for helping tell this story.
"Hale Hall" as seen in 1984.
Exterior view of Hale Hall as of
2003. Without routine maintenance, all of the camp buildings are
beginning to suffer.
Interior view of the food prep
area. When US forces turned the camp over to German authorities, all
mess equipment was removed.
Another view of the interior space
of the former mess hall.