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Pictures, Stories & Trivia

People - Then and Now

 
  Then and Now: What Was Left Behind and What We Retain

In May, 1972, the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment reflagged to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in ceremonies at Fulda, Bad Kissingen and Bad Hersfeld. Only months before, the 11th ACR had cased colors in Vietnam; the 14th ACR had been on continuous duty in Germany since the end of the Second World War. In Fulda, the events were marked by formal speeches and a parade, all captured on film and still in the government archives in Maryland.
 

 

Trooper Albums

 

In Bad Kissingen, BG (Ret) Mike O'Connell, SCO at the time, remembers a much smaller ceremony, a formation, the new flag and battle streamers. He recalls the troops were very interested in wearing the distinctive beret that came with the Blackhorse although some grumbled over the loss of traditions of the old unit. The Daley Barracks tailor shop worked special hours to get the new patches sewn on. The Eaglehorse staff worked special hours to reintegrate into the command culture of the parent regiment in Fulda and V Corps. The long OPCON to 2 ACR and Vll Corps was over. Everyone was excited over the just announced plans to finally upgrade the barracks and facilities at Daley. The US Army and the Group of Soviet Forces Germany stood spear point to spear point; no combat units closer outside of Berlin than the 2/11 ACR in Bad Kissingen and the Soviet MRR in Meiningen. If you were a twenty year old trooper when this occurred, you are now 51.
 

The former site of OP Sierra / Tennessee
(click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized picture)

 

How many soldiers sat at OP
Sierra / Tennessee and looked out over
this same terrain, year after year.
  All that remains of part of the road
leading up to the gate at the OP

 

 

 

 

Remains from the demolition of the OP,
some old rusting box springs and
assorted items
  East Germany, a nation that no
longer exists . . .
     

There was a near breathless rush of events for Eaglehorse troopers in 1990-91; from long duty at Wildflecken as a training cadre to assist units in the final train up for Desert Storm to the fast, post conflict deployment of the Squadron to Kuwait as part of the peace stabilization program to redeployment to Bad Kissingen and, first rumors then the command announcement of the permanent move to Wildflecken. Everyone was happy to be home in Bad Kissingen, the remodeled post was as good as any Kaserne in Germany. For the cavalry, however, the standing order is be ready to move in good order on short notice and moving to Wildflecken was just another " no big thing". If you were twenty when this happened, you are now thirty-two and easily could be a platoon sergeant on the verge of attack into Iraq.

 

11th ACR Welcome Paper - 1988

 

The Army and the cavalry changed much during the Eaglehorse years in Bad Kissingen. At reflag, over half of the junior enlisted troopers were draftees. There were problems with drug abuse, racial harmony and key shortages of NCO's and officers. The equipment was at best, suspect. The M114's were on the way out and no one would miss them. More Sheridans were coming yet there were questions as to whether the vehicle was reliable. New, standardized training programs and an entire new "systems" approach were on the drawing board as were new combat vehicles but all this was still years away. The border mission, as recalled by BG (Ret) O'Connell, was in "bad disarray".

Aerial shots of Daley / Camp Lee / LDA - 2003
(all shots compliments of Norbert Ruckel)

 

Daley Barracks   Camp Lee as of today from the air; center of frame, the hardstand and dining facility visible. In upper left hand corner, the active rock quarry nears the fence line.
 
A second view of the camp from the air as of Summer 2003.   LTA from the air as of Summer 2003; HAWK site in upper left corner, QRS below center point and airstrip lower right.
 
Air view of QRS with slight distortions from the aircraft windscreen.   HAWK site with wing of aircraft in lower right corner.
     

When the Eaglehorse departed Bad Kissingen, on a day marked with more significance by the Germans than the troopers, the Soviets were well on their way out of Meiningen. As bad as their barracks may have been at Haupt, Drachenberg and Barbara Kaserne, they were much better than what was waiting at the other end of the rail line. The border mission was long over and new troopers to the squadron had no first hand memory of Camp Lee, US patrol or OP Tennessee. The equipment and quality of soldiers was first rate, M1, M3, the new family of artillery and support vehicles all were battle proven and highly respected. The cavalry troops departed Daley in road march order, turned right on to Ring Strasse and were gone, like thousands of times before only this time, there was no return to Bad Kissingen. Between the reflag ceremony and the last Eaglehorse vehicle to clear Daley Barracks there were so many troopers, so many FTX's and border rotations, so many first arrivals and final departures for troopers and families alike.

  (click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized picture)

The Blackhorse Departs Germany - The
Final Parade at Downs Barracks 1995
[Courtesy of Rick Laws]

 

We left behind so much in terms of what could be seen and touched and what existed in spirit and memory. We left behind a newly remodeled barracks and it could not coexist with the post cold war Germany and Bad Kissingen where the future will always be linked to the past. We left behind upgraded training and support facilities at Reiterswiesen where we practiced the art of war and now, in partial collapse, will remain frozen in time forever as protected nature refuge. We left behind a housing area still echoing with American voices and an NCO club, where the voices and laughter of sergeants is now replaced with the order and detail of the civil police. The Frontier Theater once ran the AAFES cycle of movies, now it is a German theater. Camp Lee is remarkably unchanged and for sale for virtual low bid; OP Sierra, Tennessee and the other relics of our side of the border are gone. At the OP by Sondheim, a new super highway will cut almost directly over the site. Who knows where the books of the Rec Center Library are; who knows where the display tanks of the parade field may be? We left behind a plaque and it now rests in a desk drawer.

Shots of Daley Barracks - 1994
Brian Reed
2/11 is gone and so are all the 3ID units.  The housing area is still in use
but main post lies empty and silent.
 

(click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized picture)

 

This is a shot of the Front Gate
as it looked in 1994.
  The back of the Eaglehorse
Dining Facility

 

 

 

Shot through the front gate. EM Club on the left.
Chapel on the right. HHT in the back.
     

We troopers retain our memories of the day, regardless of rank and station. I recall qualifying my platoon at Grafenwoehr but weeks before, throwing both tracks to the inside with the tank hopelessly stuck in a ditch. Sergeant Dutton looked at me and shook his head as the M88 strained to drag the tank back to the trail. He probably remembers that night differently. Each of us had similar days. As years pass and new careers and responsibilities have intervened, the memories, both good and bad become less defined. The happier memories have a greater staying power. What was once the stuff of our daily existence becomes a few old photos in the attic and a possible familiar face seen in an airport.

Large Photos!
If you are using a dial-in connection it will take some time to download!

(click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized picture)

 

Panoramic View: Looking west to east from the front of the former 2/11 messhall   Panoramic View:  The tank park located on the upper portion of the easternside of Daley Barracks.
     

Panoramic View: The lower portion of Daley Barracks as of September 2003
     

So, each or us was called to Bad Kissingen to wear crossed sabers on our uniform and a standard three year tour is little over one thousand days. A few former troopers live in that town, others have returned over the years and captured the changes in both the landscape and the " me ... now " photographs. At the reunion a few years ago, the town provided a briefing in the former dining facility and glasses of beer.

I hope to someday return and walk the streets again in Bad Kissingen and Daley. I will touch the stones I knew when I was twenty - one as they can be found and recall the comradeship and thoughts of a job I did that while seldom perfect, was done to the best of my ability. I was like you. In town, perhaps I will see the deep blue eyes of a German woman I once knew and I will drive north to see those beautiful summer fields of brilliant green with yellow flowers where you can stop and almost reach out to the past for just a moment, where the sky and hills meet ... you know those fields, by Fladungen, in the rolling hills. I will meet you there.