Return to Hidden Stories

  If You Build It

Interesting building projects were either underway, just finished or in the planning stages during most of the American period in Bad Kissingen. The barracks area was rehabilitated or refurbished three times, 1951, 1973 and 1985 by German construction companies. Smaller projects occurred in the intervening years. US Army heavy construction battalions living a gypsy existence in Germany, traveled from site to site and job to job, built in stages, the first ASP in the LTA and then expanded the facilities and finally built the QRS.

Hardstands, wash racks and roads were American specialties. The first wash rack was built in the LTA, specifically as a stop for the returning American vehicles following maneuvers. Prior to the final cross town road march through the city streets, all mud had to be removed. The HAWK site was built in the mid 1960s; other projects were done as time and funds were available. The engineer activities helped improve both readiness and troop morale.

Twice the Army was involved in public works projects directly related to the town of Bad Kissingen. It was part of a good neighbor policy to help the city with major public works and at the office of the Lord Mayor, they realized that hosting an American Army unit had some advantages beyond the jobs and DM pumped into the local economy.

Here are four snapshots of Army engineer construction activities in the Bad Kissingen area, dating from the very first years at Daley to the mid 1960s. All of these sites remain to this day, silent reminders of our defense commitment and friendly partnership with the German community.

Reiterswiesen Airstrip 1952

Built soon after US forces moved to Daley Barracks in 1951, this construction appears to have been directed by Lt. John V. Parish of First Platoon, "Charlie" Company, 18th Engineer Bn. His platoon was stationed at Daley as part of the railway bridge and tunnel denial program but at the airstrip, he clearly had construction on his mind even if the platoon may not have had the necessary heavy equipment as part of its set. Perhaps his platoon joined in with another engineer unit to accomplish the task or his Military Academy background made him one of the more highly trained civil engineers in the immediate area and he was asked to assist. Passing through Daley Barracks during this period was both the 35th Engineer Battalion and Company "B", 1st Engineer Battalion.

  Heavy construction equipment moves in to help create the
--Parish family
  While engineers continue the work, a light Army plane tries out the strip.
--Parish family

Colonel Parish has departed for Fiddler’s Green, however, the photos, generously provided by his family, provide clear evidence that Lt. Parish and his men had a major part in developing the strip that served Army aviation at Bad Kissingen for forty years.

  Lt. Jack Parish works out the fine details of the airstrip.
--Parish family
  The troopers of 1st Platoon, Company C at work at the airstrip. The go-to-war mission was the destruction of railroad bridges in the Bad Kissingen-Mellrichstadt-Wurzburg corridor.
--Parish family


  Every trooper had received demo training, here they finally had the chance to use it.
--Parish family
  Cutting the road to support the strip.
--Parish family


  A brief newspaper article we
found among the photographs
--Parish family

Freischwimmbad 1953

In 1953, LTC James Spurrier, commander of the recon battalion and Daley Post Commander was instrumental in coordinating the efforts of Army engineers as they assisted the city of Bad Kissingen in building a new municipal swimming pool. We have yet to learn the full details of how the project began, the city previously had a swimming inclosure and beach area by the Saale River.


Col (Ret) Patrick D. Tisdale MD:

"I followed Jack Parish as the platoon leader with the bridge demolition mission and my soldiers knocked the top off that hill to build the swimming pool. We also did some other site work involving heavy equipment; the actual building of the pool was a German operation. It has been a long time and I cannot recall where we got the graders, bulldozers and so on. In the platoon, we only had the trucks and trailers to support the demolition mission. I guess the land moving equipment came from Wurzburg but I just do not have a clear recollection. We also built a set of lawn tennis courts in the park district of Bad Kissingen and in the barracks area, a football field and baseball diamond. That tank unit commander on post (LTC Spurrier 2/14 ACR ) kept us busy."



  --Glenn McGinnis   --Bob Stauffer  

Erwin Ritter did the research at the city archives and found glowing newspaper accounts detailing the construction to include moving 30 000 cubic meters of earth by the Army engineer unit at a savings to the local economy of over 200 000 DM. The project went forward at a steady pace and less than ten weeks after the initial groundbreaking, the "Richtfest", a public celebration marking the project being 2/3’rds complete, was held. With Dr. Hans Weiss, Lord Mayor, at his side, LTC Spurrier noted, "... he was particularly honored to take part in the celebration and be surrounded by so many friends. The pool would be the most beautiful in Germany and would be a fitting addition to certainly one of the most beautiful towns in Germany ..." . Local and regional civil officials echoed this sentiment in their remarks.

  This shot [and the ones below] were taken by Glenn McGinnis the summer of 1958, at the Bad Kissingen swiming pool.  Glenn was with A Btry, 1- 92nd. Arty.   --Glenn McGinnis  

On 13 August, with much ceremony, the new Schwimmbad was opened and the official name, Terrassen-Schwimmbad am Ballinghain was adopted in December. Beyond an exercise in civic pride and civilian-military cooperation, the new pool represented the birth of the new, post war economy in the town. Other German efforts were soon underway in Bad Kissingen to insure the city was a first class tourist destination. Over the years, further improvements occurred at the pool area and during the Summer of 2003, one of the hottest in Europe on record, the pool certainly was well utilized . At the site, there appears to be no mention of the US involvement in the initial construction.

  --Glenn McGinnis   --Glenn McGinnis  

Ringstrasse By-Pass 1960 and 1965

Keeping the city free of heavy American vehicles became a major priority for the city administration of Bad Kissingen in the late 1950s. There were the usual accidents and noise associated with the Army, none of this was conducive to the tourism and Kur industries.

Bob Kraimer, with the recon battalion in the mid 1950s recalled:

"As the Battalion Motor Officer, I was involved in the accident investigations, the repairs and driver’s training programs and I remember that despite our best efforts, there were too many accidents in town. These were more than fender-benders, one I recall in particular involved a German car trying to beat a tank through an intersection with tragic results."

  As the Ring Strasse was built, the entrance to the Kaserne was also improved.
--Stadtarchiv Bad Kissingen
  This is why it was important to get the Ring Strasse built, an unfortunate but all to common scene when a light delivery truck and a US tank met on Bad Kissingen street in 1955. Not all were this bad but they did happen.
--LTC (Ret) Richard D. Moore

LTC (Ret) Mack Van Hook picks up the story:

"the other major building project was the Ringstrasse which was built in the early 1960s to carry traffic around the center of the city. Bad Kissingen needed major funding from the Federal government in Bonn to undertake the project. In the Spring of 1960, a commission arrived to make an on site assessment of the need for a bypass route to reduce or eliminate the through traffic on the elegant Kurhausstrasse. Of course this commission was quartered in the Kurhaushotel where they could gather a close range impression of that traffic. In view of this situation it occurred to a very talented and influential official of the city government that it might help if arrangements could be made for some of the squadron’s heaviest trucks to pass the hotel at about 0600 hours. Such "arrangements" were duly agreed upon and for the fist time in many years, a column of duce’n halfs transited Kurhausstrasse. It is suspected that one or more had been rigged to backfire on driver command. We have no way to know whether the Commission from Bonn had already made up its mind before that morning, but it is quite obvious that the City did get the money it sought."    
  Tanks of the 2/14 move up Bebrastrasse enroute to Daley Barracks. The US built Ring Strasse was soon underway to keep the tanks out of downtown Bad Kissingen.   In 1965, Lord Mayor Hans Weiss and members of the US Army at the ground breaking for the second half of the Ring Strasse. Herr Weiss enjoyed a long and important career in politics both in Bad Kissingen and then, for the state of Bavaria in Munich. He is well remembered by all who knew him.
--Stadtarchiv Bad Kissingen

Once again, Lord Mayor Dr. Hans Weiss played a key part in getting the project underway. Colonel Ephraim F. Graham Jr., 14th RCO and LTC Judson F. Miller, commander of the 2nd Recon Squadron were on hand for the groundbreaking. The US Army Company B, 10th Engineers and the 568th Engineer Battalion assisted with the actual construction and one half of the new road was built.

Not until 1965 and a new push on road building, did the eastern half of the ring reach completion. This time, Company A of the 82 Engineer Battalion, stationed at Daley Barracks, was responsible for the earth moving operations. The Saale Zeitung reported that the engineers had prepared over 650 meters of grade for the new road and moved 20 000 cubic meters of fill.

Dr. Weiss was on hand to publicly praise the efforts of Lt. Kayes, the Company Commander, as well as the support of the 82nd Engineer Battalion commander, LTC Brown.

Special Weapons Bunkers in the LTA 1966

BG (Ret) Robert M. Wilson:

"In 1966 I commanded the 18th Engineer Battalion. This was a heavy construction unit and I routinely had companies and platoons all over Germany working on construction projects at both American facilities and assisting the Germans through a "friendship and partnership" program. The tasks were assigned on a platoon basis and in 1966 we were building a series of ammunition bunkers in Bavaria to include Bad Kissingen. I guess this would have been a four month project and the engineers would be hosted by the local barracks. The regulations required that quarters provided be equal to what the regularly assigned soldiers enjoyed so often, we were placed in the attics of the barracks. My soldiers took great pride in their work and were back on the move as soon as the job was completed. I recall that those bunkers were designed for high security so it is safe to say that special weapons were probably involved."  
  Special weapons bunker line built in 1966
Norbert Ruckel



Return to Hidden Stories