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Soldier's Field Airstrip
2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment Aviation

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with the U.S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1989. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.


Avn Co, 2nd Armd Cav

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Airfield at Soldier's Field, Nürnberg (David James)

Soldier's Field hangar, mid-1960s (David James)

(Source: Email from Richard Gray, Avn Co, 2nd ACR, 1962-1965)
Looking for guys I served with in the Aviation Company, 2d Armored Cav in Nürnberg and Bindlach. I was in the regiment from 28 December 1962 thru 7 June 1965. I was at Bindlach from February to August, 1964.

I saw the photos of Soldiers Field. A guy I served with at Bindlach pointed out the site to me. Last week I reconnected with 3 guys I knew at Bindlach in the Air Section there. They were Paul Dierker, O-1A Mechanic, David Wilcox, Radio Operator and Ed Howlett, OH-13 Mechanic.

I was visiting the social networking site of the 2d Cav (dragoonbase.com) and spotted Paul's name there. I sent off a message and he gave me Dave's email address and he gave me Ed's address and I did a web search for Ed's phone. Ed was in my H-13 maintenance class at Fort Rucker, AL in the fall of 1962. We talked on the phone for about an hour and a half.

Your photos were a real treat! The first one, of the H-34 is 007, the ship that I crewed at Bindlach. The second one, of the hangar at Soldiers Field brought back some strong memories. The window on the west side of the hangar, below and between the 'V' and the '1' was right at my back when I worked in the Maintenance Office. The door to the operations office brought back another memory which I shared with Paul & Dave.

We had only 1 guard post we could walk. It was around the OV-1 Mohawk. The special orders for that post included a list of people who had access to the aircraft. If you weren't on that list, you had to be with someone who was or be shot. I was on guard duty one Saturday afternoon at the north end of the airfield, just in front of the hangar. The Officer of the Day came around, I challenged him and recognized him.

He then started toward the Mohawk and I halted him again. I said, "Sir, you can't go near that aircraft. If you do I'll have to shoot you." He came back to me, locked my heels and started chewing me out. He said, "I'm the Officer of the Day, goddammit, and I can go as near as I want to any guard post on post!"

The door to the operations office opened and my company commander, Major Nevins came out and asked what the ruckus was. The OD said that I was giving him a hard time. The major said to me, "Specialist Gray, is your weapon loaded?" I replied that it was loaded but that there wasn't a round chambered. He said to chamber a round right now. I said, "yes, sir". He then said to me, "If the officer of the day comes within 25 feet of this aircraft, shoot him." I said, "Yes, sir." He said, "Shoot to kill". I replied, "Of course, sir."

He then turned to the OD and said, "Lieutenant, do you have any questions about the orders I just gave this guard?" The OD, whose eyes were about as big as basketballs by now said, "No, sir." The major then said, "Then you might want to get as much distance as possible between yourself and this aircraft and do it as quickly as possible." The OD said, "Yes, sir", saluted and walked back to his 3/4 ton truck.

As they were going down the taxiway toward the runway, the major said to me, "Gray, did you need to hear that?" I said, "No, sir, of course not, but I believe the OD did, and after he's had some time to reflect on it, I'm sure he'll appreciate having heard it from your lips rather than from the muzzle of my rifle." Major Nevins just chuckled at that and said, "Maybe you're right". I then continued to walk my post in a military manner......

There was something in the instructions for the OD that was in the guardhouse, but some ODs never bothered to read them.

Airfield at Soldier's Field, Nürnberg (Rick Grey)

Maintenance Section

I'll attach another photo for you. This one's taken inside the hangar at Soldiers Field. It shows, from left to right, Rick Gray (me), Larry Doucette, Bob Barrow, Ed Howlett and Merv Rasch. Doucette, Howlett, Rasch and I were all in the same Single Rotor Observation Helicopter Maintenance course at Ft. Rucker. Ed Howlett is the guy I just contacted last week.


Airfield at Soldier's Field, Nürnberg (Rick Grey)
A year or so ago, I had heard from another guy in the Maintenance Platoon who recalled that he remembered Bob Barrow. I remembered that Bob was from New Mexico so I went to zabasearch.com and looked him up. It had a phone number so I called and left a voicemail and asked if he was the guy I remembered. He was. When we finally did connect, we spoke on the phone for about 2 hours.

Rick Gray, Merrell Bks

Here's another photo for you. On a Sunday night, I had something in my eye. It was so irritating that I couldn't open either eye. We were in the east wing of Merrell and our dispensary was in the west wing. There was no one around to help me over there. Then I remembered a dispensary from the 34th Artillary which was on our floor, a door down from our supply room.

I went along the hall, mostly by feel and counting doors and eventually got there. The medics inside flushed my eye and said I should go on sick call in the morning, which I did. Our dispensary sent me to 20th Station Hospital and they removed something from my eye, put in some ointment, some gauze pads and all the adhesive tape in the world.

I was scheduled for guard duty that night. I went into the orderly room and was looking toward my right, away from the 1st Sergeant, Cliff David. I said, "Hey Top, can I get out of guard duty tonight?" He was writing something and didn't even pick up his head. He said, "Why?" I said, "no particular reason." He then looked at me and his eyes got very large and said, "What the hell happened to you???" I said I had something in my eye and the medical officer said I couldn't walk guard that night. He asked how long I'd have the eye bandage on and I said a couple days. I asked if he could switch me with someone who was on the schedule for Thursday and he said, "Sure. Of course". I thanked him. About then, the company clerk, Steve Rudminas got out his camera and took that picture.

(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Dec 22, 1967)
An article in the STARS & STRIPES reported that VII Corps had assumed control of a newly constructed airfield near Feucht () in exchange for the 2nd Armd Cav airfield at Soldier's Field () in Nuernberg.

The new airfield was constructed at a cost of $5 million by Germany to replace the US-operated airfield to allow for housing construction and to eliminate existing dangers in operating an airfield near the metropolitan area of Nuernberg.

Feucht AAF includes a 3,400-foot runway, a large aircraft parking area and a complex of buildings that includes a maintenance hangar, an operations building, a control tower, a fire station and fuel storage tanks.

Aviation Company, 2nd Armored Cavalry
(Source: Email from David James, Avn Co, 2nd ACR)
A STARS & STRIPES article indicates that the 2nd Armd Cav Regt changed from wearing the Seventh Army shoulder patch to the 2nd ACR patch in April 1967. Though the above would help nail down the correct year better.

I served with Avn Co. 2nd Armored Cav Regt. from 1965 to 1967, stationed at Merrell Barracks in Nuernberg.

Photo #5 -- if you look close at the shoulder patch, you will see that we where still wearing the old (7th Army) patch in Nov. 1966. Yes, that is my helicopter after hitting a 120,000 volt power line while flying a chaplain to different field sites for Sunday services.

The name of the air strip was Soldier's Field, right next to where Hilter marched his troop's in WW2. There where 2 lakes at the north end and from the air you could see the bomb carters from WW2. Merrell Barracks was a former German SS building. The air strip was about a mile from the barracks.

Avn Co
Soldier's Field

1. Hangar area

2. Runway

3. Southern end of the airfield

4. Märzfeld

5. Huey after power line hit

6. Feucht AAF under construction

7. Merrell Bks main gate

(Source: Email from Don Haywood, Avn Co, 2nd ACR)
I was in the group that transferred the Aviation Company, 2nd A/C from Soldiers to Feucht AAF.

I did work the operations shack at Soldiers Field for about 3 months. It was pretty much a nightmare because we couldn't 'see' the aircraft.

I did enjoy all the parts of the Sportsplazt that was built for Hitler's summer rally in '37? We did a lot of hiking there on days off.

We were the first residents at the new field at Feucht. Don Haywood...me, Douglas Gay, and Jean Keifer were the principal controllers at that time and we lived on base. We had a 'barracks' on the second floor above the operations office and commanders office. I remember Capt. Schwinghammer was the Aviation company CO. We had about 20 WO's and several regular officers.

I was there from Oct. 1967 to Dec 1968. We got our meals from Merrell Barracks delivered by the POL duty soldier each night. There was the 656 POL Company just about 2 miles away on the SE side of the runway and we often went there to eat.

We worked revolving shifts initially of 24 on and 48 off. But, the first Sergeant got sore at us for having too much time off so he restructured our shifts to 2 days 0600 to 1400hrs, 1400 to 2000 hrs , and 2000hrs to 0600 hrs. Then 2 days off. WOW, that was great!

There was a 4th controller but I can't remember his name.

Gay had a new 68 VW he bought there and so we had transportation. Plus we had a duty driver to take us to the bars etc and pick us up....or back to Merrell if we needed to. The only real duty we had was to man the tower or operations room 24 hours a day. We had a cot we'd set up about 2000hours and the duty guy would sleep there in operations by the radios and phones. By 0600 the cot was gone and the office cleaned up. We never fell out for alerts because our duty station was in the tower.

There was another soldier, Phil Lawing, who ran the operations room during duty hours----0800 to 1700. Then, at 1700, all the other aviation company people would go back to Merrell Barracks for the night. We mostly had Warrant Officers who had rotated from 'Nam and who were getting some reprieve and R&R in Germany. Some of the WO's would leave and go back and we heard of several who were killed on their second deployment. We always held a service for them.

I have lots of slides and some photos of my time over there. Maybe this will help someone connect with someone else. Our mission was to patrol the Czech Border from Bayreuth to Amberg. We were there for the Prague Spring and everything was cool. Then the Russians invaded to stop Premier Dubczeck from carrying the rebellion any farther. I remember hearing about some captain phoning in to the regiment CO saying, " I'm here in Bamberg with 3 US tanks looking down the road toward Czechloslovakia. CO says 'good'. Then the Captian says, 'but the Russians have 6 tanks looking back at me'. CO says, 'don't shoot'." It was pretty spooky, having armed helicopters and "unload your weapons" signs all around. It only lasted about a month though.

All in all, I thought it was great duty and I would have re-upped but things wouldn't stay the same--no matter what that re-enlistment Sergeant said. Ha Ha!

After the Prague Spring, we got in some Army Mohawks with side scan radar to patrol the border. They were set up in a little hut mid-field just south of the runway. They were able to 'look' some 40 miles into the other side of the border and spot basically road traffic and military convoys etc. It was all supposed to be secret but after a while they would let the controllers in to watch them line up the photos with the map on the wall. It was really interesting.

There was an ammunition dump south of the field fence an it was rumored to have nukes there. Don't know much about that.

Initial buildings (in black) located on Feucht AAF, c. 1968/69
(Buildings in gray were added later)
That's right. 2, 8, 7, were the only buildings there when I left in Dec. '68. In 8, the German fire station lodged the civilian fireman on the east side and we were on the west wing of 8. Operations was on the first floor along with a pilots ready room and CO's office. The controllers were billeted on the second floor. As Army usual, we had our standup lockers as sort of a barrier wall to create some privacy. Our area must have been about 14' X 30 '. We had a great set-up.

All those new buildings (in gray) surprised me. 2 was the hangar and avionics area. I think 7 was where the Mohawks' film was developed and projected on the wall. The ammo dump was south of the fence line near 7. In the tower itself, there was an Air Force weather crew one floor below the tower floor. 3 'zoomies'. One was Ted Poteka, (am 4th class) and Robert Kemper (am 4th class), and a Sergeant whom I cannot remember. Poteka spoke good German and had a car. He used to use av-gas in the car, on the sly.

Way over to the east, along the taxiway, was the POL for the field. Richard Billingsly was the A/C refueling man. He was my roommate at Merrell before I moved to Feucht. Another controller was Donald Henslee Sp-5 but he rotated or got out before Feucht I think.

As I think back more, one of the Soldiers field controllers was Larry Strand. And at Feucht, one of my good friends was Phil Lawing. Sgt Mike Papillo and I took leave to Spain together. At Rhein Main AB we knew the 'controller lingo' and connived a ride on a generals jet (Sabreliner) to Madrid. It was really cool, a couple of sp4's, flying to Spain.......Later, Phil Lawing and I did the Same thing.

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