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59th Ordnance Brigade
US Army, Europe

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.

Brigade History (1962 - 1992)

Page 2
(NATO Nuc Arty)

Page 3
(GE Nuc Arty)

59th's role in NATO

Headquarters Support Bn

3rd Ord Bn

72nd Ord Bn

197th Ord Bn

165th Sig Co

22nd Avn Det


List of Dets

List of Dets
(early 1980s)

Special Weapons Depots

Redstone Arsenal Historical Monographs

1962 - 1974

1974 - 1982

1982 - 1992
Related Links
Personal recollections submitted by former members of the US Army warhead custodial detachments can be found in the corresponding group sections - below!

Personal recollections submitted by former members of NATO nuclear-capable outfits can be found in the corresponding unit sections on Page 2 (UK, Canadian, Belgian, French, Dutch) and Page 3 (German)!


294th USAAG

512th USAAG

514th USAAG

528th USAAG

548th USAAG

552nd USAAG

557th USAAG

558th USAAG

559th USAAG

570th USAAG

576th USAAG

Brigade History
1962 - 1992
59th Ordnance Brigade DI
(Source: A Look Back ... at the 59th Ordnance Brigade. Final issue of the 59th COURIER, the command newspaper, published in 1992.)
59th Ordnance Brigade: One for history books.

At one time, the 59th Ordnance Brigade was the largest brigade in the U.S. Army. The 59th covered 95,000 square miles from the border of Denmark, south to Switzerland, west into the Netherlands and spread throughout western Germany with over 7,000 soldiers.

The soldiers within the 59th came from a wide variety of different occupations. The vast majority of soldiers were artillery, ordnance and military police, however, several support occupations were included to fill out this well-rounded brigade.

One word stands out when describing the 59th Ordnance Brigade. Unique.

Unique in that this command successfully meshed three Army branches, the ordnance, artillery and military police corps, and performed a mission that came to be known as the backbone of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Unique in that nearly one half of the personnel assigned to the command lived and worked on installations throughout Germany, which were maintained by Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

The history of the 59th Ordnance Brigade and its forerunners, the Advanced Weapons Support Command (AWSCOM) and the Special Ammunition Support Command (SASCOM), reaches back into the 1950s, several years before the command's headquarters was organized.

In April 1955, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 71st Ordnance Group was organized and assigned to the Seventh U.S. Army and stationed in Pirmasens, Germany.

In June 1959, the 71st Ordnance Group was officially redesignated as AWSCOM as part of Theater Army Support Group.

AWSCOM was redesignated as the 59th Ordnance Group (Ammunition) in March 1962. The Group assumed a record of service that went back to 1943 with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company. By May 1962, 21 units were assigned to the 59th Ordnance Group. In June 1965, AWSCOM was authorized as the official abbreviation for the 59th Ordnance Group (Ammunition).

While the 59th Ordnance Group was undergoing its 12-year metamorphosis, events were taking place that were to have a shaping influence on the 59th Ordnance Brigade as it is known today.
  In 1957 President Eisenhower offered certain special weapons to NATO. Congressional restraints prevented this offer from becoming an outright grant. Instead, it was provided that weapons should be positioned in allied countries but these weapons would remain United States property.

June 23, 1958 marked the first, of what would be later called, Special Ammunition Support Command (SASCOM) units on foreign soil (Turkey), and the first special weapons support provided to an allied nation. The establishment of SASCOM was a slow process due to the types of agreements that had to be concluded between the United States and the NATO nations before special weapons could be made available and the program could get under way.

Once all agreements had been concluded the Special Ammunition Support Command, born on April 15, 1960, became a significant part of the United States commitment to NATO.

Headquartered in Frankfurt, SASCOM, was organized with two types of units, artillery and ordnance. The 1960s saw SASCOM grow at a tremendous pace as new groups were activated and detachments assigned to them. By 1967, SASCOM was

composed of 10 artillery groups commanding 38 missile artillery detachments.

On Oct. 20, 1972, the command envisioned by the NATO Advanced Weapons Division 13 years before came into being. The artillery detachments, the ordnance companies, and the depot companies were combined into one command. The similar, but separate missions performed for so long by SASCOM and the 59th Ordnance Group (Ammunition) AWSCOM, were now assumed by one command - the 59th Ordnance Group, later to be officially called and accepted as the 59th Ordnance Group (SASCOM).

The new command, headquartered in Pirmasens on Husterhoeh Kaserne, saw many changes during the next few years.

  As a result of the formation of the new command, several artillery groups inactivated and joined their forces under the new command, and two ordnance battalion headquarters were activated.

Effective Aug. 22, 1977, the 59th Ordnance Group was redesignated as the 59th Ordnance Brigade and increased its mission to include support of guided missile systems and land combat systems used by the U.S. Army Corps in Europe.

The brigade's mission was to provide direct and general special weapons support for all U.S. Army, Europe, and NATO forces. In reality, this mission was one of the most unique, complex and difficult to be found in any army in the world.
At the time of the inactivation announcement, the brigade was composed of five artillery groups, two ordnance battalions and a headquarters support battalion, totaling more than 2,900 military and 100 civilian personnel.

The artillery groups consisted of an ordnance company, artillery detachments and a headquarters detachment. The groups provided custody, control, maintenance, and supply of ammunition for our NATO allies. Some detachments had the dual mission of performing technical support and maintenance, while simultaneously performing custodial agent functions.

(Source: ARMY LOGISTICIAN, Jan-Feb 1973)
The merger of the Advanced Weapons Support Command and the Special Ammunition Support Command was expected to ultimately result in a savings of approximately 200 military manpower spaces.

(Source: USAREUR/Seventh Army STATION LIST, 1 June 1976)


HHC, 59th Ord Ammo Gp Husterhöh Ksn, Pirmasens  
US Army PAL Det Husterhöh Ksn, Pirmasens  
563rd Ord Co (Maint)(GS) Camp Pieri, Wiesbaden  
579th Ord Co (GM Maint) Nelson Bks, Neu Ulm  
165th Sig Co Husterhöh Ksn, Pirmasens  
41st Ord Co (Ammo Convl) Kaiserslautern  
72nd Ord Bn (Ammo)    
HHD, 72nd Ord Bn Army Depot, Miesau  
4th Ord Co (GM Maint) Army Depot, Miesau  
9th Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(Dep Spt) Army Depot, Miesau  
164th MP Co (Phy Scty) Ammo Depot, Miesau  
619th Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(Dep Spt) Ammo Depot, Kriegsfeld  
558th MP Co (Phy Scty) Ammo Depot, Kriegsfeld  
197th Ord Bn (Ammo)    
HHD, 197th Ord Bn Fischbach Ksn, Fischb.  
64th Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(Dep Spt) Fischbach Ksn, Fischb.  
165th MP Co (Phy Scty) Fischbach Ksn, Fischb.  
525th Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(Dep Spt) Ord Area, Siegelsbach  
556th MP Co (Phy Scty) Ord Area, Siegelsbach  
5th Arty Gp (Wh Spt)    
HHD, 5th Arty Gp Stöckerbusch Ksn, Büren  
27th Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(GS) Stöckerbusch Ksn, Büren  
4th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Werl  
33rd FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Dellbrück  
43rd AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Düren-Drove  
66th AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Soest-Büecke  
85th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Geilenkirchen  
507th AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Hinsbeck  
294th Arty Gp (Wh Spt)    
HHD, 294th Arty Gp Flensburg  
99th Ord Det (Wh Spt) Flensburg  
13th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Liliencron Ksn, Kellinghusen  
75th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Flensburg  
512th Arty Gp (Wh Spt)    
HHD, 512th Arty Gp Günzburg  
510th Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(GS) Günzburg  
2nd FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Pfullendorf  
24th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Landsberg  
36th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Hemau  
74th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Airfield, Lechfeld  
84th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Großengstingen  
552nd Arty Gp (Wh Spt)    
HHD, 552nd Arty Gp Mühlenberg Ksn, Sögel  
162nd Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(GS) Mühlenberg Ksn, Sögel  
5th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Schill Ksn, Dünsen  
8th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Steenwijk, NE  
23rd FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) T'Harde, NE  
25th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Barme  
32nd FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Nienburg  
35th AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Hohenkirchen  
42nd AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Barnsdorf  
51st AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Adelheide  
557th Arty Gp (Wh Spt)    
HHD, 557th Arty Gp Aartal Ksn, Herborn  
96th Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(GS) Aartal Ksn, Herborn  
3rd FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Salm Ksn, Phillipsburg  
7th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Hardt Ksn, Treysa  
30th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Army Depot, Giessen  
52nd AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Lippe  
83rd FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Montabaur  
501st AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Kilianstädten  
570th Arty Gp (Wh Spt)    
HHD, 570th Arty Gp Handorf  
583rd Ord Co (Sp Ammo)(GS) Handorf  
1st FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Schill Ksn, Wesel  
15th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Paderborn  
22nd FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Dempsey Bks, Sennelager  
69th FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Hemer  
81st FA Det (Msl Wh Spt)(HJ) Dülmen  
509th AD Det (Msl Wh Spt) Vörden  

Headquarters, Advanced Weapons Support Command
(Source: Al Galbraith, served with HHQ Co, 59th Ordnance Group - a.k.a AWSCOM, 1967-68)

1. Sign in front of HQ building, Husterhoeh Kaserne (43 KB)

2. Several buildings and a motor pool on Husterhoeh Kaserne (86 KB)

3. Building 4618 housed HQ AWSCOM, Husterhoeh Kaserne (97 KB)

4. Building 4618 in 2002 (36 KB)
Webmaster Note: I mistakenly identified the above building (photo #3 and #4) as Bldg 4611. Al says it was and is Bldg 4618.

(Source: Clem Akins, 529th Ord Co, 1966-67 and 1971-73; 64th Ord Co, 1967-69 and 1973-75)
Found your article on the Ordnance Companies interesting but lacking when it came to the special weapons units. Here is some information on the SW units in Europe when I was there. Took me a while to find where I had put this stuff.

529th Ord Co was a general support/depot company for most of the Theater. It was located in a cave complex in a small valley near the town of Masswieler a few minutes drive from Pirmasens. The cave complex was built and used by the Germans in WWII and still had the Eagles over the doors. I was there from Dec 66 till Sep 67 and again from Oct 71 till Nov 72 when they closed the unit. The 529th was under AWSCOM (Advanced Weapons Support Command) located in Pirmasens. The 529th had most of the load test mission for the theater and was a parts depot for SW test and handling equipment. We had one MP company collocated with us for security.

I was stationed at the
64th Ord Co at Fischbach from Sep 67 to May 69 and again from Oct 73 to Aug 75. During the 67-69 time there was a Sergeant GS Company (575th Ord Co) I think and two MP companies (193rd & 564th ?) that were assigned to the depot. The 64th was a SW GS Company for the southern half of Europe, the 9th Ord Co having the other half. The 64th had a mission for all SW, rocket motor support for Nike Herk and a full load 8” mission for the SW rounds. There were no extra facilities located at Fischbach so all traveled to Pirmasens for their needs, Commissary, PX, Gym, & clubs. The 64th was a stockpile site and the storage platoon had over 100 people assigned. MAJ Ron Finkbiener was the commander during the 73-75 time frame.

197th Ord Bn was created about Nov 72 and was located at Fischbach and had control over the 64th and 525th Ord Co. The commander was LTC Lynn Stevens. By this time the 575th Ord Co was gone.

(Source: Email from Ron Youngman, HQ AWSCOM, 1966-1969)
I was in the Surety Division of AWSCOM Headquarters in Pirmasens from 1966-1969.

I was a Spec 5. We prepared all the maintenance instructions for several nuclear warheads, i.e Nike, Honest John, Sergeant, Pershing and 155. We had nine ordnance units under our command which we were responsible for. The headquarters Advanced Weapons Support Command was also was responsible for the transport of the weapons to Germany through different means. We also had sites in France and Italy.

The 32 (Webmaster note: should be 22nd?) Aviation Detachment across the street was responsible for the deliver units.

I was assigned to the HHC 59 Ordnance Group which was next doors to the headquarters building. Buildings were used by the German SS elites during WWII. Our section chief was a LTC and I worked with a CPT, Two senior NCO's one an E-7 and one a E-8. Also worked with 6 chief warrant officers. Good job and personnel to work with.

Seems like yesterday but I left Pirmasens in March of 1969.

Several personnel were sent to Vietnam from our unit. A list came out every month.

There was the 97th Engineer Battalion on base and the the whole unit was sent to Vietnam. There one day and gone the next morning.

I remember the good NCO club we had and off base beer and sandwich shops. I traveled all over Europe to places I was allowed to go to. There were places I could not go to because of my security clearance.

(Source: Email from James Sisk)
I liked your website on the 59th Ordnance Brigade (USAREUR) and wanted to pass on the following information:

I was assigned to units in the 59th Ord Bde for eight years.

1980-1983 (545th Ord Co in Muenster-Dieburg) as Support Plt Ldr, Storage & Issue Plt Ldr, and Operations Officer.

We supported V Corps artillery units and some ADM Engineer units. This unit had the unique General Defensive Position (GDP) in the famous "Fulda Gap" where Warsaw Pact forces were expected to be heaviest. Most intelligence scenarios didn't give us much chance of any survival if total war broke out. The actual locations I'm sure, by now, are declassified and were around the town of Schlitz. This was a large unit with over 40 5-ton trucks dedicated to moving inventory and many more vehicles in support roles. The 6th MP Co provided physical security (to include both patrol & sentry military working dogs directly around the storage site. There were also some German para-military dog patrols that kept civilians away from the very outer perimeter fence of the depot (kaserne)). The storage site was well hidden in the middle of the forest; but was so lit up at night that commercial airline pilots purportedly used it for navigation to/from Frankfurt International Airport. The depot was converted to commercial businesses in the early 1990's.

1985-1987 (99th Ord Det in Flensburg) as Commanding Officer.

We supported LANDJUT forces (650 Rocket Artillery Bn (Lance) and the 5th Panzer Grenadier Divisional arty (8" & 155mm). The storage site was near the village of Meyn. We had excellent relations both with the local civilian community and our German Army hosts. The 611th Nachschub Company (logistics) provided all our transportation and bivouac support. US military support for us was out of Bremerhaven. From the 294th USAAG other north European American units were supported. These included a "listening post" intel unit with several translators that picked up Warsaw Pact communications; veternarian inspectors who worked mainly in Denmark (lots of poultry & dairy for all of USAREUR came from there); and some joint US personnel who worked with NATO (e.g. there was a German Naval School in Murwick). The non-custodial units (75th & 13th FA Dets) worked very closely with their German counterparts. The 99th Ord Det had interior custodial control of the storage site and the two German units noted above by number provided external security. The storage site was noted as the most technologically advanced & secure site in the entire 59th Ord Bde. Both myself and Hauptmann Axel Lowe (German storage site commander) were given a special medal by the brigade commander for our securty initiatives in 1987. The site is now abandoned and parts of it are used as a pig farm.

1987-1989 (59th Ord Bde in Pirmasens) as Brigade Surety Evaluation Team Captain. The BSE teams visited every brigade unit right before their special inspections to ensure compliance & readiness. Sometimes we would "troubleshoot" sensitive issues for the brigade commander. Frank Dyer was on my team and was the US Army's first Master Warrant Officer (MW5). Teams were comprised of an officer, several spec wpns warrant officers, and a MP physical security expert. Sometimes a medical records specialist was used for the Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) review. The brigade commander used his BSE teams to decrease the number of failing or negative findings from USAREUR or DOD inspections of subordinate units. The teams would review everything (including: tie down procedures, emergency destruction, war plans, personnel records, maintenance, convoys, support unit relations, security, documentation, etc.)

1989-1990 (197th Ord Bn in Muenchweiler) as Material Officer (MATO). The unit supported VII Corps Artillery and had a minor role with Clausen. The custodial unit (64th Ord Co) was located in Fischbach very near the French border and the road to the storage site was known as "Thunder Road" since it was dangerously curvy and often icy. The MATO was the technical "eyes & ears" of the battalion commander and served as liaison on all classified matters with supported units and brigade headquarters.

(Source: Email from Bob Eccles)
I joined the Army in January of 1982. I served in the 59th Ordnance Brigade from roughly April of 1982 to January of 1985. I started out with the 164th Military Police Company based at Miesau Army Depot, where I performed nuclear physical security duties. I am proud to have participated in a couple of events of historical note, specifically securing Pershing Two missiles arriving at Ramstein AFB, and what I believe was the first land convoy of nuclear weapons in Germany since the 1950's.

The second half of my time with the 59th was spent as the driver for the Commanding General, BG Harry Walker. I drove the Commanding General and Command Sergeant Major in an unmarked Mercedes sedan, following the convoy vehicles. We spent a lot of time in the armor-plated and bullet-proof BMW 733-i criss-crossing Germany (West Germany, at the time) and Belgium visiting units of the 59th.

On our way back to Brigade headquarters in Pirmasens, we listened as local radio newscasters reported the convoy. Our CSM spoke fluent German, so he could translate what was being said.

Transporting nukes around Germany (and occasionally Belgium) was pretty interesting by helicopter, too. We flew around in "Chinook" helicopters. I remember once we had to land in a field in the middle of the German countryside, and rushed out and set up a perimiter around the chopper. I overheard the pilot say that he had lost hydrolic pressure. Kinda scary!
Bob Eccles

(Source: David N.)
I can relate to this event (reported in Bob Eccles' email above) as I was the Senior Courier Officer on one of the "Air Missions" that the Auxillery Power Unit (APU) went out. The crew chief was on a short ladder with a freshly opened can of hydralic fluid and was pouring it into someplace towards the rear mast inside of the CH 47C. We were carrying two warheads to be "Retrograded" and "demilled" (demilitarized). Two weapons guards were at the back of the helicopter with M16s, flak vests, and helmets. I was sitting at the troop commander's seat just behind the the copilot and the pilot.

Through the headset that I was wearing I heard the pilot say, "aw shit, we're going down". They were both yanking on the cyclics. About that time we hit really hard.

The next thing I know was the troop commander's seat folded from under me and I was on my back next to one of the warheads, my flak vest and helmet absorbed most of the impact of my back hitting the deck plate. My legs were tangled in the seat belt for where I was sitting. I almost swallowed the "Bubble Yum" bubble gum that I usually chewed while on "Air Missions".

Hydralic fluid from the forward mast area was spraying on me. The pilot and copilot had already unassed the helicopter. Thinking that the helicopter would catch on fire or something I pulled out my Gerber Mark V Commando Knife and sliced the seat belt to untangle myself. Being 101st Air Assault trained at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, I checked to see if the master power switch was off. I made sure that I still had my .45 caliber pistol in my shoulder holster and picked up my M16, which had slid under one of the warhead containers (someone decided we had to carry our M16s, we usually only carried a .45 caliber pistol, M1911).

I yanked the headset off and I headed towards the back of the "bird" (helicopter) after making sure that the warhead containers were not warm (a sign that the 300 pounds of High Explosives had ignited). I got to the two Warhead Guards and they were cussing and cursing. Prior to crashing the crew chief had let the "tail gate" down. They almost were thrown out on impact.

After making sure that everything was not going to burn, I went outside and looked at the helicopter. We had landed in a newly plowed and fertilized farmer's field, what a nice smell (NOT). The helicopter was buried up to the side fuel pods. After a while the pilot and copilot reestablished communications with the other helicopters. As the Senior Courier Officer, the decision was made to deploy a security perimeter from the Guard Force "Bird" ( a Military Police Physical Security Platoon) per SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) around the crashed "Mission Bird".

Something not SOP was that we would use their CH 47C as the "Mission Bird" after we "transloaded" the two warheads "tailgate to tailgate". This would "strand" the Guard Force. The Alternate "Mission Bird" was already on the way, but had a way to go, to get to us.

The "tailgate to tailgate transload" went off without a hitch and we were on our way, minus the Guard Force. We landed at the "hotpad" and the warheads were off loaded, forklifted to vehicles (M818s), tiedown, covered with a tarp, and signed for from me to the next officer. Their Guard Force had to remain in place, since ours was still in the air enroute to this location.

As soon as the other officer signed for the weapons on the Receipt, I was out of there. We boarded the helicopter and radioed the Guard Force to abort and go back to home station. We landed at out poinr of departure and returned to our units. About an hour later the alternate "Mission Bird" dropped off the Guard Force.

We went through our routine of the cleaning and turn in of our M1911s, M16s, M203s, M60s, and ammunition. One of the new MP's asked me, "Sir, does this happen all the time". I smiled and said, "Yeah, sure all the time". He thought that I was serious and his face turned into panic and he rapidly walked off.

A few days later I had to go to the Medical Clinic because my back was hurting and I could barely get out of my car. I was given a bunch of pain pills and told that the back pain was from muscle spasms. I had to DX (Direct Exchange) my hydralic fluid soaked Flak Vest. Eventually, the pain went away, while I was still doing the "Missions".

All the "Missions" came out to over 133, with three crashes ( that I walked away from). I kept copies of all the Receipts that Transfered the xxxxx Weapons to the other units so that if one of them came up missing I could prove that I didn't lose the xxxxx Weapons. That is how I know how many "Air Missions" that I went on. I carried my Gerber Knife on all "Air Missions" after having to cut my self loose from the seat belt.

I was glad that these were warheads that were being "Retrograded", after they were delivered the gaining unit only "popped" the containers to visually check the xxxxx Warhead, and a "Broken Arrow" Report was not required. I didn't want my Name, Rank, and Social Security Number on a Broken Arrow Report at the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A few months later after doing some other "Missions" one of the CH 47Cs that we had been riding in the day before had a catastrophe transmission failure and fell apart over the autobahn.

(Source: Joe Luongo, 59th Ord Bde, 1985-88)
I was assigned to the 59th Ord Bde from Dec 1985 to Nov 1988. I started at the Bde staff in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Surety. I was a physical security inspector. I inspected sites all over the Bde. I went from Flensburg in the north to Füssen in the south. Some of the units that I remember inspecting are the 162nd OD CO, the 74th USAFAD, the 510th OD CO, the 619th OD CO and the 1st USAFAD. There were alot more but those are the one's I remember most.

After 6 months on the surety team and being TDY 3 weeks of the month I took command of the 164th MP CO at Miesau in July of 1986. The 164th was then part of the 3rd OD BN that was headquartered in Pirmasens. The 164th was the biggest MP CO in USAREUR. We had a authorized strength of 284 soldiers. We secured one of the largest nuclear storage sites in Europe. We provided security for air missions all over West Germany. Between air missions, inspections, demos for visiting VIPs and the day to day mission it never stopped. It was a tough command and pretty stressful but it was the highlight of my career. Nothing I did before or after has equaled it. I was very lucky I had great soldiers who always accomplished the mission no matter how bad things got.

After 21 month of command I went to the 3rd ORD to be the S-2.

I retired in 1996 and was called back to active duty in 2002.

I often run into people who served in the 59th. And its alway fun to listen to the stories. Everyone always agrees that there was not doubt what your mission was. Hopefully there will be more comments from other people
Joe Luongo
If you have more information on the history or organization of the 59th Ord Bde, please contact me.

(Source: A Look Back ... at the 59th Ordnance Brigade. Final issue of the 59th COURIER, the command newspaper, published in 1992.)
59th's role in NATO.

During its many years of service, the 59th Ordnance Brigade provided a valuable link between the peacetime readiness of U.S. forces and the ability to support forces of our NATO allies in the event of war.

To provide for group self-defense, NATO has three major commands - Allied Command, Europe, (ACE); Allied Command, Channel; and Allied Command, Atlantic.

In wartime, the 59th Ordnance Brigade would have come under the operational control of ACE commanded by the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR). The mission given to SACEUR by NATO is to contribute to the deterrence of all forms of attack against countries and peoples in ACE and, should any attack occur, to take all military measures necessary to preserve or restore the borders and security of Western Europe.

The more than 70,000 square miles for which SACEUR is tasked to defend is divided into four commands - Allied Forces, Northern Europe; Allied Forces, Central Europe; Allied Forces, Southern Europe; and the United Kingdom Air Forces. Within these commands there are various other subordinate headquarters.

Allied Forces, Northern Europe (AFNORTH) is comprised of Norway, Denmark,

  Germany north of the Elbe River, and the adjacent sea areas. A subordinate command of AFNORTH, Allied Forces, Baltic Approaches (BALTAP) is the parent command for Allied Land Forces, Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland (LANDJUT), which contains forces that were supported by elements of the 59th Ordnance Brigade.

The largest of ACE's subordinate commands, Allied Forces, Southern Europe (AFSOUTH), includes Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Black Sea, and the entire Mediterranean Sea.

The third subordinate command, United Kingdom Air Forces (UKAIR), is a single service subordinate command - the Royal Air Force supplies all of the assets. It is a multi-role command, spanning all functions of air power.

The fourth and last major command, Allied Forces, Central Europe (AFCENT), contained most of the units supported by the artillery groups and ordnance battalions of the 59th Ordnance Brigade. AFCENT's area of responsibility extends from the North Sea and the Elbe River to the borders of Austria and Switzerland.

The major subordinate commands of AFCENT are Northern Army Group (NORTHAG), Central Army Group
  (CENTAG), and Allied Forces, Central Europe (AAFCE).

NORTHAG is composed of four national corps from Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. The headquarters included an element from the 59th Ordnance Brigade to assist in planning and coordination. The NORTHAG area of responsibility stretches from Hamburg to Kassel, and from the inner German border to the Dutch and Belgian borders.

CENTAG, covering the middle and southern areas of Germany, consists of two German corps, two U.S. corps, and a Canadian mechanized brigade. There was also a 59th Ordnance Brigade staff element at CENTAG headquarters.

Exercising operational control over the 2nd and 4th ATAF, AAFCE is responsible for deterring air attacks and responding if attack should occur.

As can be seen, Allied Command, Europe, is a complex organization combining the armed forces of many nations and requiring close liaison to ensure cooperation and, ultimately, the ability to respond in the event of war. The 59th Ordnance Brigade was an important part of this command and an integral element in NATO's deterrence of aggression.

(Source: A Look Back ... at the 59th Ordnance Brigade. Final issue of the 59th COURIER, the command newspaper, published in 1992.)
Headquarters Support Battalion

The Headquarters Support Battalion was organized as the Special Troops Battalion on October 1979, to command and control the four separate units assigned to the 59th Ordnance Brigade: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 165th Signal Company, 22nd Aviation Detachment, and the U.S. Permissive Action Link Detachment. These units provided the brigade headquarters with administrative, logistical, communications, transportation, and classified support.

In May 1983, the Special Troops Battalion was redesignated Theater Support Battalion (Provisional). The Headquarters Commandant was formed the following month to assume the support mission responsibility. The four units were attached to the Headquarters Commandant for administrative and logistical purposes.

In the spring of 1984, Headquarters Commandant was redesignated as Headquarters Command. In August of that same year, Headquarters Support Battalion was created and it assumed provisional status in February 1985.

Finally, in October 1985, Headquarters Support Battalion was activated with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 165th Signal Company, 22nd Aviation Detachment and the PAL Detachment under its control. The Headquarters Support Battalion is scheduled to inactivate in September 1992.

Headquarters and Headquarters Company
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 59th Ordnance Brigade was constituted and activated in the U.S. Army in 1943 as

  Headquarters Detachment, 331st Ordnance Battalion and activated at Camp Livingston, La.

The following year, the battalion was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 59th Ordnance Group. The Group served with distinction as part of the Ninth Army in World War II and was awarded battle credits for participation in the Central Europe Campaign and the Rhineland Campaign.

Inactivated at Fort Jackson, S.C. in February 1946, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment was again active in Guam from April 1947 to December 1948.

Redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 59th Ordnance Group in 1951, the unit served in Korea and took part in five campaigns. The Group was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation for its outstanding service in Korea. The unit was inactivated in Korea in May 1957.

In March 1962, the Group was activated in Germany as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 59th Ordnance Group (Ammunition). Later that year, it was redesignated the 59th Ordnance Group, Advanced Weapons Support Command (AWSCOM).

AWSCOW and the former Special Ammunition Support Command (SASCOM) were consolidated and merged to form a "new" SASCOM in 1972. The new 59th Ordnance Group (SASCOM) moved from Frankfurt to the old AWSCOM headquarters in Pirmasens.

On 22 August 1977, 59th Ordnance Group (SASCOM) was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 59th Ordnance Brigade. HHC, 59th is scheduled to inactivate in September 1992.

22nd Aviation Detachment
The 22nd Aviation Detachment was constituted in the regular Army as the 22nd Special Warfare Aviation Detachment in March 1962 and activated at Fort Bragg, N.C. In June 1962, it was reorganized and redesignated as the 22nd Aviation
  Detachment (Special Forces). The Detachment was inactivated in December 1963.

The unit was activated in September 1965 as the 22nd Transportation Company in Pirmasens, Germany and assigned to U.S. Army Communications Zone Transportation Command with attachment to the U.S. Army Advanced Weapons Support Command. The 22nd replaced the 26th Transportation Company which was inactivated. The following month, the activation orders were amended to designate the unit as the 22nd Aviation Detachment.

In May 1967, the detachment was assigned directly under U.S. Army Communications Zone with attachment to AWSCOM. In 1971, and again in 1977, the 22nd Aviation Detachment was named the USAREUR Region AAAA Aviation Detachment Size Unit of the Year. The 22nd will inactivate in July 1992.

Permissive Action Link
In December 1963, the U.S. Army Permissive Action Link Detachment was organized and assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Materiel Command, Europe. The detachment was attached to the Advanced Weapons Support Command for administrative and logistical support.

Prior to December 1963, the Army PAL Detachment had been known as the U.S. Army Control Detachment, the U.S. Army Surveillance Detachment, and the U.S. Army PAL Surveillance Detachment.

In September 1970, the PAL Detachment was assigned to the U.S. Army Theater Support Command, Europe, and attached to AWSCOM. In July 1972, the PAL Detachment was placed under the operational control of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, USAREUR, and in May 1974, it was reassigned to the 59th Ordnance Group (Special Ammunition Support Command).

The Permissive Action Link Detachment was the only unit of its kind in the U.S. Army, consisting mainly of officers and noncommissioned officers. The PAL Detachment was inactivated in June 1992.
165th Signal Company
The 165th Signal Company was constituted in February 1942 as the 165th Signal Photographic Company. The 165th was activated in June 1942 at Camp Crowder, Mo. Serving in the European Theater during World War II, the company received credit for five campaigns and was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation.

After the war, the 165th was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, N.J. in March 1946. In February 1957, the unit was redesignated as the 165th Signal Company and was activated at Camp Hood, Texas the following month. The 165th was inactivated at Fort Carson, Colorado in August 1961.

The company was activated once again in August 1967 at Fort Bragg, N.C. and was inactivated there in January 1971. In September 1975, the 165th Signal Company was activated in Germany and assigned to the 59th Ordnance Group. The 165th Signal Company inactivated in June 1992.

Northern Army Group
Working as a part of the NATO team in the largest collocated military complex in
  Western Europe, was the small group of men and women of the brigade's staff
element at the Northern Army Group/Second Allied Tactical Air Force Joint Headquarters in Rheindahlen, near the city of Moenchengladbach.

This facility also served as the headquarters for the British Army of Rhine (BAOR) and Royal Air Force, Germany.

The staff elements main mission was to advise and coordinate the planning of weapons support to the four NORTHAG corps and to 2ATAF and provided a link between the brigade and its administrative locations in northern Germany and Holland and with other NATO commands.

Part of the element's mission was to assist the NORTHAG/2ATAF staffs in planning exercises or operations and to participate in joint exercises in support of various NATO units. In addition, members of the element joined with other representatives of other commands to form NATO evaluation teams which were used to test units of the northern artillery groups of the brigade. Pinpointing problems at the groups and providing assistance comprised a large
  portion of the element's peacetime mission. (See page 61 for history of NORTHAG.)

Central Army Group

In counterpoint to the Staff Element NORTHAG, the brigade established a brigade staff element at Central Army Group/Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force (CENTAG/4ATAF) in Heidelberg.

Collocated with Headquarters, U.S. Army, Europe, and Allied Command Europe Mobile Forces Land, this specialized staff section served as a focal point for coordinating actions and maintaining a visible interrelationship between the brigade and the NATO headquarters for the four separate corps located in central and southern Germany.

While they lived in Heidelberg, "the home of the general," members of the staff element were often called upon to host as well as attend high level conferences, special functions, and be specially trained to monitor, support and participate in major NATO exercises to accomplish their mission while under direct supervision of the 59th Ordnance Brigade commander. (See page 62 for history of CENTAG.)

(Source: Email from Thomas S. Schorr, Jr., last commander of HHC, 59th Ord Bde)
I just found the website for the 59th while researching other topics. Of course your site side tracked me for a little while. I was the last commander of HHC 59 OD Bde and the very last person to sign out of the brigade on 30 Sep 92 after the official inactivation. I had to sign out of 196th OD Bn located right across the street.

Lots of memories, seen lots of former 59 OD soldiers, and we all had good memories … though I think we seem to have remembered the best of our experiences.

I still have the sign from HHC 59 OD Bde after I discovered that the installation was just going to turn it into scrap metal.

1SG Mark Hole was the last 1SG of HHC. Great guy who went on to make CSM. It could not have happened to a better NCO. My XO, 1LT Bruce Tharpe, ETS'd service and went to Penn State to get his Masters in Engineering. Last thing I got from him was that he was enjoying school and in the process of setting up his own engineering firm. I'm sure by now that he must have the corner on any kind of engineering needs on the East Coast.

In the final months of 59th OD Bde and HHC, we blossomed from the normal 400 soldiers to over 700 soldiers as units went out of business to meet President Bush's mandate to eliminate all tactical special weapons in Europe. All of the special T&H gear was turned in to the supply section which was headed by 1LT Zulma Guerrero, now LTC and serving in the 19th ESC, Daegu Korea. She is going very well. I expect her to pick up a BN Command and pin on COL. We also served together in CFLCC on the G4 staff.

I've had a pretty good career and ended up with 7 commands. I still think that LTC John Nyere was the best boss that I ever had. He was always even keeled and let me run to the end of my rope before interjecting his thoughts on what he thought I should be doing. His examples have guided me through my entire career and I've been pretty successful. Every new company commander should have a boss like him to guide them through their commands. When I rotated into every command I use the same words that he told me right before my HHC 59 COC.

I was really nervous and had no idea of what to right for a COC speech. I spent the better part of two evenings at home thinking up stuff of what I wanted to do and we would be a great unit. As I'm standing in the side of the gym waiting for our cue to go out the podium to begin the COC he looks at me, notices that I'm looking through about 5 pages of speech and simply says to me, "Son, keep it short, you haven't done anything yet". I shortened my speech to, I'm proud to be selected for command and essentially I'll do the best I can. Every soldier was relieved after the outgoing commander went on for what seemed like an eternity.

By the way, another person out of the PAL Detachment, COL Patrick Harris, is now in the Army War College and will graduate this summer. Amazing how well all of us that were assigned to the Brigade have done.

(Source: Welcome to the 59th Ordnance Brigade, 59th Ord Bde special orientation brochure, no date (probably 1982))
3rd Ordnance Battalion

One Of A Kind

The 3rd Ordnance Battalion is a one of a kind unit.

It is the only battalion in the U.S. Army with a general support missile maintenance mission. Its units have the unique advantage, at least as far as the 59th is concerned, of being in or very close to military communities.

The 3rd is also a notable battalion in that it sends its servicemembers to far away places such as Crete (Greece), Italy, Berlin, Grafenwoehr, and Garlstedt in Germany for support of missile firings.

A former 3rd Ord commander once remarked that the average soldier in his battalion was "not only very technically oriented but also liked to get out and enjoy the attractions of Germany".

The 3rd Ordnance Battalion has a wide ranging mission. It provides general support and some direct support maintenance for every type of missile system the Army uses in NATO: Hawk, Nike-Hercules, Pershing, Chapparral, Redeye, Stinger, Lance, Tow, Dragon, Shillelagh, Vulcan gun system and Forward Area Alerting Radar (FAAR).

Although the 3rd's mission is centered around missile maintenance, it has a wide variety of jobs within its ranks with over 68 MOS's among its 942 members.

A little history: The 3rd began as an automotive support unit in the Pacific theatre during World War II (note the cog and palm tree on its crest) and was deactivated after the war. During the Vietnam conflict the 3rd Ord served as a conventional ammunition battalion until its deactivation in April 1972.

  The 3rd's recent history has been dotted with honor, as it became the first unit in USAREUR in 1981 to store and maintain the advanced Stinger missile. That same year, the 3rd also underwent inspection from none other than the Vice-Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Gen. Thomas Vessey.

The 3rd also fielded a fine Nijmegen (Netherlands) March team in 1980 which went on to place among the top 10 percent of the 10,000 soldiers that trecked the famous 1000 mile route.

The battalion sends soldiers to the Armed Forces Recreation Centers in Garmisch every year for adventure training. There they are instructed in survival techniques under adverse conditions.

When the 59th underwent a reorganization in 1977, the 3rd reactivated and took under its wing the 4th Ordnance Company in Miesau; the 41st Ordnance Company in Kaiserslautern; the 563rd Ordnance Company in Wiesbaden; and the 579th Ordance Company in Neu-Ulm, which has since been transferred to the 56th FA Brigade.

In providing general support it repairs, maintains, stores, renovates and issues missiles to direct support units around USAREUR, a complicated mission to say the least.

The 3rd also provides direct support for units such as the Berlin Brigade, the 2nd Armored Division Forward and the 7th Army Training Center.

Part of the 3rd's mission is to maintain an 'Operational Readiness Float' in which a reserve of missiles, generators and other support equipment are kept for use by other units when their equipment breaks down.

The 3rd's organic companies, in brief:
The Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 3rd is situated on Taukkunen Barracks in historic Worms, city of the Protestant Reformation. Soldiers in Worms, when not involved in the affairs of operating a battalion, have ample opportunity to visit the Martin Luther monument, roam through Romanesque and Baroque churches, attend a winefest, or see the opera in this city of 80,000 along the Rhine River. The headquarters also plays host to battalion tournaments in basketball, football and softball each year.
  The 4th Ordnance Company at the Miesau Army Depot near Kaiserslautern services Nike-Herkules and Improved Hawk missiles for the 32nd Army Air Defense Command. Its members take advantage of the many volksmarching (German for "people's walk") and hiking trails in the Miesau area.

The 4th distinguishes itself through an active suggestion awards program that contributed over $ 144,000 in savings during the first five months of 1981 alone.

The 4th is part of the Zweibrucken Military Community and its members have close access to all the benefits of Kaiserslautern as welI.

As a note, the 4th's location is the scene of a yearly gathering of Miesau's Protestants under an oak tree in a sensitive part of the Miesau Army Depot. The tradition is a centuries old token of the religious defiance of the town's citizens.

The 41st Ordnance Company in Vogelweh, near Kaiserslautern, performs ammunition storage, issue, and maintenance functions on a wide variety of missiles, mostly at its two storage facilities in Fischbach and Weilerbach. It also features a Dedicated Delivery Service program whereby missiles are exchanged on site at artillery batteries.

Both the 41st and the 4th are located close to the Kaiserslautern Military Community, which contains approximatelys 50,000 servicemen and has several large exchanges, auto garages, pizza huts, camera and stereo shops, parts stores, and other spacious facilities operated by the Army/Air Force Exchange Service.

The 563rd Ordnance Company in Wiesbaden maintains ten different missile systems. It competes strongly in sports activities within its military community and within the Battalion. During off-duty time soldiers of the 563rd enjoy the many sights in Wiesbaden on the Rhine River and take in an occasional round of golf at a course located adjacent to its Kaserne.

The 3rd Ordnance Battalion isn't the largest battalion-sized unit in the 59th, but it has one of the strongest traditions of excellence to be found in any unit.

SASCOM Organization late 1964
(Source: A Look Back ... at the 59th Ordnance Brigade. Final issue of the 59th COURIER, the command newspaper, published in 1992.)
514th US Army Artillery Group

514th Artillery Group DUI
  The 514th US Army Artillery Group was constituted in February 1943 in the Army of the United States as the 514th Field Artillery Battalion, (155mm Gun)(Tractor Drawn). The battalion was activated later that year at Fort Lewis, Wash.

After completing unit training, the battalion departed Fort Lewis and traveled to Fort Bragg, N.C. where it was assigned to the XVIII Corps for further training in May 1943.

The 514th arrived in Europe in October 1944 and received credit for participating in four campaigns.

In August 1945, the 514th returned to the United States where it was inactivated in February 1946.

In September 1948, the 514th Battalion was redesignated as the 958th Field Artillery Rocket Battalion and allotted to the Organized Reserve Corps. The battalion was active from September 1948 through August 1950 at Fresno, Calif.

In March 1952, the 958th Field Artillery Rocket Battalion was redesignated as the 514th Field Artillery Battalion and it was allotted to to the Regular Army later that year.

Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 514th Field Artillery Battalion, was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 514th US Army Field Artillery Group in May 1961.

Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 514th US Army Artillery Group was activated in Germany and stationed at Mönchengladbach in December 1961. The Group was subordinate to the Special Ammunition Support Command. The 514th Group's mission was to implement the SASCOM Special Ammunition Support Program in cooperation with the Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) and Second Allied Tactical Air Force (2ATAF).

With the merger of SASCOM and AWSCOM in October 1972, the 514th USAAG was deactivated.

The personnel and spaces made available from the deactivation were used to establish the 59th Ordnance Group Staff Element at NORTHAG. The staff element at NORTHAG was inactivated in April 1992.

(Source: A Look Back ... at the 59th Ordnance Brigade. Final issue of the 59th COURIER, the command newspaper, published in 1992.)
548th US Army Artillery Group
548th Artillery Group DUI

The 548th US Army Artillery Group was constituted in the Army of the United States as the 548th Field Artillery Battalion in March 1944.

Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 548th Field Artillery Battalion was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquaters Detachment, 548th US Army Artillery Group in May 1961. The 548th US Army Artillery Group (Provisional) was organized and assigned to the Special Ammunition Support Command in August 1961.

In October 1961, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 548th US Army Artillery Group was (officially) activated and assigned to SASCOM.

In April 1962, the group was further attached to the US Army Element (Support Command), Headquarters, Central Army Group (CENTAG). Consurrently, the 548th Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment moved to Seckenheim (Hammonds Barracks).

With the merger of SASCOM and AWSCOM in October 1972, the 548th USAAG was inactivated and its subordinate groups assigned directly under the new 59th Ordnance Group. The liaison role performed by Hqs 548th became the responsibility of the 59th Ord Gp Staff Element at CENTAG which was composed of spaces from the 548th. The staff element at CENTAG was inactivated in June 1992.
Webmaster Note: According to some information I found some time ago, HHD, 548th USAAG was originally located at Lüdenscheid, Germany, a small town northeast of Köln (Cologne). Can anyone confirm and provide details?

165th Signal Company
(Source: Email from Carl F. House)
The 165th Signal Company was formed out of the maintenance and signal platoons of HHC 59th ORD GP (SASCOM). Stand up date was on or about 21 Sep 1975. The Company was commanded by CPT John G. Tesmer (sp?).

I was transferred to the 165th with no movement involved from HHC 59th on the date I provided (21 Sep 1975).  The 59th, 22nd Avn and 165th shared the same motor pool.

I was also assigned to 1/54 Inf, Bamberg, 1979-1982; and 7th Army CATC, Vilseck 1984-1987.

(Source: Email from Bruno Harmann)
  I was a Sp4 stationed in the 165th Signal Co, Pirmasens. While I was only in the Army for three years I remember Pirmasens well.

I was a 29N Dial Office repairer, I did telephone work. I remember re-wiring many buildings in the Husterhoeh Kasernes. I helped to rewire the Banana building and many of the "outsites" as we called them.

I had a NATO secret clearance and often had to travel to Fischbach and many other places out in the woods in a green Army VW van that I picked up brand new in Wolfsburg. I remember often going out to some of these sites, sometimes alone to fix telephone problems at the nuke sites. Some of them were guarded by MP's and geese, lol.
I am fluent in German so I often had to do "special" duties.

In the 165'th I remember CO Captain Christopher Benoit. We'd be out in the woods sometimes and he would send us a pizza. I believe that was for Able Archer? I also remember a Captain Woodhouse in the 165th.

I was also attached to the 267th Sig co. in Pirmasens and did work for them in the telephone office in the Banana building and Muenchweiler and Dahn and Fischbach. The woods out there were so beautiful. I am a rock climber so when I was off I would often take my POV and go climbing with some of the German civilians I met on the sandstone cliffs which were all over the place.

I remember doing special duty driver for General Cunningham sometimes.

Permissive Action Link Detachment
(Source: A Look Back ... at the 59th Ordnance Brigade. Final issue of the 59th COURIER, the command newspaper, published in 1992)
Permissive Action Link
In December 1963, the U.S. Army Permissive Action Link Detachment was organized and assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Materiel Command, Europe. The detachment was attached to the Advanced Weapons Support Command for administrative and logistical support.

Prior to December 1963, the Army PAL Detachment had been known as the U.S. Army Control Detachment, the U.S. Army Surveillance Detachment, and the U.S. Army PAL Surveillance Detachment.

In September 1970, the PAL Detachment was assigned to the U.S. Army Theater Support Command, Europe, and attached to AWSCOM. In July 1972, the PAL Detachment was placed under the operational control of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, USAREUR, and in May 1974, it was reassigned to the 59th Ordnance Group (Special Ammunition Support Command).

The Permissive Action Link Detachment was the only unit of its kind in the U.S. Army, consisting mainly of officers and noncommissioned officers. The PAL Detachment was inactivated in June 1992.

(Source: Email from Gary Smith, PAL Det, 1963-67)
I was assigned to the USA PAL Det (Permissive Action Link) from 1963 to 1967.  The unit was organized to install the Permissive Action Link devices throughout the European Theater.  The unit spent its time in the early stages testing the devices before the program was fully implemented and then traveled throughout the theater installing the devices.  I was with the unit almost from its inception until the program was fully implemented.
Teams were composed of two commissioned officers and two non-commisioned officers, E-6 and above. Each team was composed of two sub teams, A and B, so that no one individual knew the entire code utilized.  There was extensive travel throughout the theater during the implementation phase.

I’m sure you know what the Permissive Action Link is, it is fairly common knowledge now but at its inception the mission and everything about it was highly classified.  I didn’t even tell my Dad what I did until a few years after I was out of the Army. 

As it was, the unit was almost the “president’s baby” and we got almost anything we wanted.  The CO at the inception, a Major H. Eugene Kelson, took full advantage of this and we got many privileges and perks, such as a 6 day TDY trip to Paris to learn about NATO.  Major (later Colonel) Kelson was a real character and I can remember on two occasions he almost got us arrested.  

For almost a year, the mission was not fully agreed on and we didn’t have a lot to do.  There was a lot of pinochle and ping pong played but in the end this may have paid off, as the personnel became very close knit.  Most of the young officers in the unit lived in BOQ’s in two army posts, one of which was half school teachers and one which was more than half nurses. 

We had a great group and we went on week end trips in small groups almost all over Germany.  Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen were our favorites.  At least a couple of marriages blossomed out of this close relationship but a lot of the relationships were more like brother and sister.  

A later phase of the mission involved tested of the devices and became very boring.  Can you imagine eight hours a day opening combination locks over and over?  There were quite a few failures in the early days and this testing phase stretched out for quite a long time, but the devices had to work flawlessly.  Much of the early testing was at the 529th Ordnance Company in tunnels dug during the Second World War by the Germans.

(Source: Email from William Howard)

I also was a member of the PAL Detachment. Arrived in Pirmasens on 29 Dec 1964 and was assigned to the PAL Detachment. We were a subordinate unit of USAREURCOMZ. While I was there we were not a part of the 59th Ord. Bde.

I was there from Dec 64 until Oct 1966, then was sent to Orleans to the 11th Military History Detachment to write the history of the move out of France.

In March 1967 I returned to the PAL Detachment and was there until June 1967 at which time I returned to the USA, enroute Vietnam.

(Source: Email from Jack Vines)

In 1968 I was an Armor 2nd LT who went “vol-indef” (a third year obligation, minimum), asked for Germany and expected to be posted out on the Russian front in one of the Armored Calvary units. When I received orders to the USA PAL Detachment in Pirmasens, I couldn’t find anyone who had ever heard of it.

When I arrived in Pirmasens and met my fellow officers, they said, “You just died and went to heaven. This is the best duty in the Army.”

The PAL Detachment was great duty; imagine getting paid TDY to travel all over NATO, mostly Germany, occasionally, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Greece or Turkey.

Mostly the work was light, but once a year, all the codes had to be reset. It was usually in the dead of winter and all day in a below freezing bunker could get harsh.

After two years, I agreed and actually asked if I could stay for twenty years there. In the Army, wanting something is a guarantee you can’t have it, so they sent me to Vietnam..

Warhead Custodial Detachments - 1960s
(Source: Annual Historical Summary, USAREUR & Seventh Army, 1 Jan to 31 Dec 1966)
Program Expansion

Although all host nations except the Federal Republic of Germany encountered problems in providing the agreed level of logistocal support to US custodial detachments, USAREUR provided nuclear weapons and custodial support to 18 additional non-US NATO delivery units that achieved nuclear operational status during 1966. (See table.)

In addition, 14 Belgian, FRG, and Italian delivery units -- including one 8-inch howitzer, three Honest John, and ten Nike Hercules batteries -- were to achieve nuclear capability during the first half of 1967.
TIMELINES (the following timeline is still in draft form - I am experimenting to find a good way to present the attachments/detachments of subordinate units and assignments of missions - and, yes, suggestions are welcome!)

1. 552nd USAAG, 1960s-1970s (KB)


Warhead Custodial Detachments - early 1980s
294th USAAG
Liliencron Kaserne, Kellinghusen
Arty Regt 6 (1)
6th GE Inf Div (Mech)
294th USAAG
von-Briesen Kaserne, Flensburg
Arty Comd 600 (2)
GE Rkt Bn 650 (LANCE)
99th Ord Det
294th USAAG
von-Briesen Kaserne, Flensburg
294th USAAG
59th Ord Bde
von-Briesen Kaserne, Flensburg
294th supports German elements of LANDJUT Corps
552nd USAAG
Schill Kaserne, Wesel
Arty Comd 1 (3)
GE Rkt Bn 150 (LANCE)
552nd USAAG
Arty Regt 11 (4)
11th GE Inf Div (Mech)
552nd USAAG
Johannes Post Kaserne, Havelte, Neth.
Dutch LANCE unit (5)
I NE Corps
552nd USAAG
LTC Tonnet Kaserne, t'Harde, Neth.
Dutch unit (6)
I NE Corps
552nd USAAG
Niedersachsen Kaserne, Barme
Arty Regt 3 (7)
3rd GE Armd Div
552nd USAAG
Clausewitz Kaserne, Nienburg
Arty Regt 1 (8)
1st GE Armd Div
552nd USAAG
St. Barbara Kaserne, Dülmen
Arty Regt 7 (9)
7th GE Armd Div
162nd Ord Co
552nd USAAG
Mühlenberg Kaserne, Sögel
I GE Corps; I NE Corps
552nd USAAG
59th Ord Bde
Mühlenberg Kaserne, Sögel
I GE Corps; I NE Corps
570th USAAG
Houthulst Kaserne, Werl
I BE Corps
570th USAAG
Northumberland Barracks, Menden
26 Fld Regt (11)
570th USAAG
Barker Barracks, Bergen
5 Hvy Regt (12) ??
570th USAAG
Dempsey Barracks, Sennelager
39 Fld Regt (13) ??
570th USAAG
27 Fld Regt (14) ??
570th USAAG
Peninsular Barracks, Menden
50 Msl Regt (15)
583rd Ord Co
570th USAAG
Handorf Kaserne, Münster
I UK Corps; I BE Corps
570th USAAG
59th Ord Bde
Handorf Kaserne, Münster
I UK Corps; I BE Corps
The 32nd USAFAD has 65 assigned soldiers; about half hold Atomic Demolition and Munitions job specialty (MOS 12E) and the others are Army Artillery Cannoneers.
The 4th USAFAD supports four different artillery battalions within I BE Corps (including one LANCE battalion).
557th USAAG
Salm Kaserne, Philippsburg
Arty Regt 12 (1)
12th GE Armd Div
557th USAAG
Hardtberg Kaserne, Treysa
Arty Regt 2 (2)
2nd GE Inf Div (Mech)
557th USAAG
Steuben Kaserne, Giessen
Arty Regt 5 (3)
5th GE Armd Div
557th USAAG
Westerwald Kaserne, Montabaur
Arty Comd 3 (4)
GE Rkt Bn 350 (LANCE)
557th USAAG
Fliegerhorst Kaserne, Teveren
FKG 2 (2ATAF) (5)
German Air Force Pershing unit
96th Ord Co
557th USAAG
Aartal Kaserne, Herbornseelbach
557th USAAG
59th Ord Bde
Aartal Kaserne, Herbornseelbach
512th USAAG
Gen.-von-Fritsch Kaserne, Pfullendorf
ArtyRegt10 (6)
10th GE Armd Div
512th USAAG
von-Leeb Kaserne, Landsberg
Mtn Arty Regt 8 (7)_
1st GE Mtn Div
512th USAAG
Steuben Kaserne, Hemau
Arty Regt 4 (8)
4th GE Inf Div (Mech)
512th USAAG
Schwabstadl Kaserne, Schwabstadl
FKG 1 (4ATAF) (9)
German Air Force Pershing unit
512th USAAG
Eberhardt Finck Kaserne, Grossengstingen
Arty Comd 2 (10)
GE Rkt Bn 250 (LANCE)
510th Ord Co
512th USAAG
Neue Kaserne, Günzburg
II GE Corps; 4ATAF
512th USAAG
59th Ord Bde
Neue Kaserne, Günzburg
II GE Corps; 4ATAF
The 83rd USAFAD, the only LANCE support unit within the 557th, supports the 350th GE Rocket Bn and III GE Corps Artillery.
The 85th USAFAD supports PERSHING missile system and is the largest unit within the 557th; it has more than 200 assigned soldiers and a large signal detachment.
The 24th USAFAD, comprised mainly of 13B artillerymen and 12E atomic demolition specialists, provided special weapons support to the 1st German Mountain Division and to II German Corps, with direct support provided to the 2nd Company/210th German Pioneer Battalion and the 8th German Mountain Artillery Regiment.
.The 74th USAFAD supports PERSHING missile system and is the largest unit within the 512th USAAG - about 600 soldiers.

Related Links:
570th USAAG - a comprehensive site that covers the special weapons support group and its subordinate warhead custodial detachments.
4th USAFAD - web site dedicated to those who served at the 4th USAFAD during the COLD WAR.
8th Missile Det (now inactive) - Edward Starks (NOTE) has a website dedicated to the 8th Missile Det stationed in Steenwijk, the Netherlands.
27th Ordnance Company, Büren - great website hosted by a former member of the 27th Ord Co. The company supported 570th USAAG.
27th Ordnance Company - Picasa Photo page
Site Pluto - 69th Ordnance Company - a very interesting site hosted by John Myers that features Site Pluto, located at Longare, Italy, which was operated by the 69th Ord Co and used as a depot for atomic weapons in support of the 559th USAAG's mission in Italy.
81st USAFAD, Dülmen - Homepage of the Dülmen Warthogs!
84th USAFAD, Grossengstingen - nice page dedicated to the veterans who served with the 84th USAFAD at Grossengstingen, southern Germany.
History of a Quick Reaction Alert site - Ochsenhof
(German language only!) - site is hosted by Jörg Auernhammer, a former member of the 1st Flugkörperstaffel of FKG 1 at Saarburgkaserne, Landsberg/Lech, 1980s. This unit was supported by 74th USAFAD, 512th USAAG. Site contains a nice strip map of QRA Ochsenhof.
50 Missile Regiment - Excellent homepage of the British missile unit that was supported by the 69th USAFAD.
Traditionsvereinigung RakArtBtl 150 - a website hosted by veterans of the III (GE) Corps LANCE unit out of Wesel. This link goes directly to their What's New Page - a link there leads to the History Page of the 150th which was initially equipped with the SERGEANT and later the LANCE missile. The unit was supported by 1st USAFAD. (Sorry, German language only!)
NATO Armies 1950-1980, the first thirty years - an interesting web page by Jose-Maria Serrano
Kampementen & Legerplaatsen & Kazernes - Dutch website shows many pictures of Dutch military installations in Holland and Germany - some familiar to US warhead custodial detachments - Harde t' (Luitenant-kolonel Tonnet Kazerne) and Havelte - Steenwijkerwold ( Johannes Post Kazerne) ; also check out the Duitsland (Germany) link that leads to a page with several of the NIKE sites
Webmaster's note 04/24/2021: It has come to my attention that Mr. Ed Starks, 'Andy' to his friends, passed away in 2020. Further details are not known to the webmaster.

His website, dedicated to the US Army's 8th Missile Detachment that served in the Netherlands during the Cold War, is now inactive. It is hoped that someone has saved the information, stories and photos of that unit that Andy has so diligently collected in his corrspondences with veterans over the years and that they will be submitted to either the US Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA or to the US Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair, Washington D.C.