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3rd Armored Division

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.

Division History

Page 2
Combat Comds
Div Arty

Page 3
Div Trains

Operation Gyroscope



Maneuver Damage
(Silver Talon, 1966)

Newspaper articles

Related Links

3rd Sq, 12th Cav

3rd Bn, 61st ADA

23rd Engr Bn

143rd Sig Bn

503rd Avn Bn

503rd MP Co

3rd AD NCO Academy

Division History

The Big Picture: 3rd Armored Division in Germany (YouTube)

Location of 3rd Armd Div units and stations, 1956 (Walter Elkins)
Click on the graphic to view a higher res version of the map
If you have additional information/corrections, contact the webmaster - see email link at top of page
Commanding Generals, 3rd Armored Division

1955 - 1992 (list is complete)

  • Maj Gen John Murphy Willems (Apr 1955 – Jul 1956)
  • Maj Gen Robert W. Porter, Jr. (Jul 1956 – Jan 1958)
  • Maj Gen Thomas Fraley Van Natta III (Jan 1958 – Jul 1959)
  • Maj Gen Frederic J. Brown (Jul 1959 – Oct 1960)
  • Maj Gen Creighton Abrams (Oct 1960 – May 1962)
  • Maj Gen John Ramsey Pugh (May 1962 – Feb 1964)
  • Maj Gen Berton E. Spivy, Jr. (Feb 1964 – Mar 1965)
  • Maj Gen Walter T. Kerwin, Jr. (Mar 1965 – Oct 1966)
  • Maj Gen Welborn G. Dolvin (Oct 1966 – Apr 1968)
  • Maj Gen Donald H. Cowles (Apr 1968 – Aug 1969)
  • Maj Gen Morgan G. Roseborough (Aug 1969 – May 1971)
  • Maj Gen William R. Kraft, Jr. (May 1971 – Mar 1973)
  • Maj Gen Jonathan R. Burton (Mar 1973 – Jun 1975)
  • Maj Gen Charles J. Simmons (Jun 1975 – Nov 1977)
  • Maj Gen Wallace H. Nutting (Nov 1977 – Sep 1979)
  • Maj Gen Walter F. Ulmer, Jr. (Sep 1979 – Feb 1982)
  • Maj Gen Thurman E. Anderson (Feb 1982 – Mar 1984)
  • Maj Gen Richard G. Graves (Mar 1984 – Jun 1986)
  • Maj Gen Thomas N. Griffin, Jr. (Jun 1986 – Mar 1988)
  • Maj Gen George Joulwan (Mar 1988 – Jul 1989)
  • Maj Gen Paul E. Funk (Jul 1989 – Apl 1991)
  • Maj Gen Jerry R. Rutherford (Apr 1991 – Feb 1992) (1)
(1) On 17 January 1992, the 3rd Armored Division officially ceased operations in Germany. The division colors were then returned to the United States.

3rd Armored Division review at Campo Pond, Hanau, 1957 (Webmaster's collection)

3rd Armored Division review at Campo Pond, Hanau, 1957 (Webmaster's collection)

3rd Armored Division review at Campo Pond, Hanau, 1957 (Webmaster's collection)

3rd Armored Division review at Campo Pond, Hanau, 1957 (Webmaster's collection)
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, April 5, 1957)
The 3rd Armored Division held a four-day celebration in early April, 1957 to commemorate the division's 16th Anniversary.

The opening ceremonies were held at Campo Pond in Hanau and were attended by an estimated 6,000 visitors. Among the top-ranking guests were General Lauris Norstad, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe; General Henry I. Hodes, USAREUR Commander-in-Chief; Lt Gen Bruce C. Clark, 7th Army Commanding General; Lt Gen Lemuel Mathewson, V Corps CG; as well as many high-ranking military and civilian dignitaries from NATO nations.

The highlight of the opening ceremonies was a mounted and dismounted review held by the SPEARHEAD Division in which approximately 8,000 troops and about half the wheeled and tracked vehicles of the division as well as aircraft from the division's aviation sections participated.

3rd AD 16th Anniversary

1. 3rd AD review

3rd AD review

3rd AD review

(Source: SPEARHEAD, 3rd AD command newspaper, Anniversary Issue, April 1962; Armor-Cavalry, Army Lineage Series, 1969; Infantry, Army Lineage Series, 1972)

Combat Command "A"
, Kirch-Göns
2nd MTB, 1st Cav (redes 3rd MTB, 33rd Arm, 1 Jul 1963)
2nd MTB, 13th Cav (redes 2nd MTB, 33rd Arm, 3 Feb 1962)
2nd ARB, 36th Inf

2nd ARB, 46th Inf (redes 3rd ARB, 36th Inf, 3 Feb 1962)
2nd HOW Bn, 3rd Arty (1)

Combat Command "B", Gelnhausen
1st MTB, 33rd Arm

2nd ARB, 48th Inf

2nd HOW Bn, 6th Arty

Combat Command "C", Friedberg - until March 1955, known as CC Reserve
1st MTB, 32nd Arm
2nd ARB, 52nd Inf (redes 1st ARB, 36th Inf, 3 Feb 1962)
2nd HOW Bn, 27th Arty Bn

moved from Butzbach, Oct 1961


1st Brigade
, Kirch-Göns
2nd Bn, 32nd Arm (2nd MTB reorg/redes 2nd Bn, 1 Oct 1963)
3rd Bn, 33rd Arm (3rd MTB reorg/redes 3rd Bn, 1 Oct 1963)
2nd Bn, 36th Inf (2nd ARB reorg/redes 2nd Bn, 1 Sept 1963) (1)
3rd Bn, 36th Inf (3rd ARB reorg/redes 3rd Bn, 1 Sept 1963) (1)
2nd Bn, 3rd Arty

2nd Brigade
, Gelnhausen
1st Bn, 33rd Arm (1st MTB reorg/redes 1st Bn, 1 Oct 1963)
1st Bn, 48th Inf (1st ARB reorg/redes 1st Bn, 1 Sept 1963)
2nd Bn, 48th Inf (2nd ARB reorg/redes 2nd Bn, 1 Sept 1963) (1)
2nd Bn, 6th Arty

3rd Brigade
, Friedberg
1st Bn, 32nd Arm (1st MTB reorg/redes 1st Bn, 1 Oct 1963)
3rd Bn, 32nd Arm (activated 1 Sept 1963)
1st Bn, 36th Inf (1st ARB reorg/redes 1st Bn, 1 Sept 1963)
2nd Bn, 27th Arty

(1) Corrections provided by Jim Chorazy



SPEARHEAD Newspaper, April 1962 - Anniversary Issue
(Click on the image to read the 12-page issue - PDF file)


Drake Kaserne, home of Headquarters, 3rd Armored Division, 1963-64 (Ray Smart)

Edwards Kaserne, home of 3rd AD Support Command, 1963-64 (Ray Smart)
(Source: Walter Elkins)

Location of 3rd Armored Division units, August 1964
The list was created by Walter Elkins and is based on units and locations listed in the August 1964 Seventh Army STATION LIST. For corrections, please contact the webmaster.

(Source: Email from Jerry Cronk, A Co, 143rd Armd Div, 1964-66)
I enlisted in the Army September 1963, took basic at Ft Leonard Wood, second eight at Ft Belvoir and was shipped overseas January 1964 on the USNS Geiger, landed in Bemerhaven and I was stationed in Germany from January 1964 to August 1966 with the 3rd Armored Division, A company 143rd Signal Battalion at Edwards Kaserne in Frankfurt. I was looking at the table of organization and area assignments for that division and I may have some information and a possible correction or two. This is in reference to what was posted by Walter Elkins and based on a Seventh Army publication.

1. The 3rd Armored Division NCO Academy was at Ayers Kaserne at Kirch-Gons. This I know as I attended the Academy and graduated prior to being promoted to E5. Also drove several attendees up, in the 31 months I was in Frankfurt, to the Academy and I always went to Ayers Kaserne to drop them off and pick them up.

2. The 45th Medics was in the barracks next door to my barracks ( HQ & A company 143rd Signal ) and across the parade grounds from the mess hall and the 503rd S & T. I don’t believe that they were at Gibbs Kaserne----I recall that being almost exclusively an MP barracks.

This is going back a year or two but I have always had a great memory for places and facts. Hope this helps a little bit in filling in some on the bits and pieces.

I remember, fondly, my time in Germany and barely missed going to Viet Nam -- actually by six days. The Army was gearing up the 23rd Infantry Division and came down with a levy for all E5’s and above in the Division Support Command, to be sent to Ft Riley and then to Viet Nam near Chou Li. I made the levy but when they worked my paperwork, I was six days under six months and they would not send me unless I re-enlisted -- was promised E6 the minute I signed on the dotted line and E7 in six months -- all in writing but I opted to finish out my three years and go back to school.

(Source: Walter Elkins)

Location of 3rd Armored Division units, July 1974
The list was created by Walter Elkins and is based on units and locations listed in the July 1974 STATION LIST. For corrections, please contact the webmaster.

Norm Newhouse had some input regarding the Bonames question I had on the locations list:
Bonames is the air field. No troop housing there. Troops were probably at Edwards. The 66th Avn Co. (Corps) also had their aircraft at Bonames. Their troops were at Gibbs when I left in 1965.

All V Corps special troops units kept their ammo trailers at Bonames. No explosives in town. 45th Med. Bn was also stationed at Gibbs in 1965.

ADDITIONAL DUIs - 1950s-60s

3rd Armd Div





Marksmanship Det

NCO Academy
3rd AD NCO Academy DUI

3rd Armored Division NCO Academy, 1972 (Bill Perry)
(Source: Email from Bill Perry, son of Sgt. Maj. B.D. Perry)
Above, a STARS & STRIPES article (Issue: Nov 16, 1972/p.9) discussing the mission of the 3rd Armored Division NCO Academy. My father was a newly promoted Sergeant Major and 2nd NCO in the Army to be a Division NCOA Commandant.

Ayers Kaserne, 1972

1. Graduation ceremony

Sgt Maj Perry


3rd Armored Division NCO Academy, 1973 (Bill Perry)

NCO Academy faculty and staff, 1973 (Bill Perry)
(Source: Email from Bill Perry, son of Sgt. Maj. B.D. Perry) 
Above, the 3rd Armored Division “Spearhead” newspaper covering the events. The 3rd AD NCOA four week course was also available to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment as well as the Berlin Brigade soldiers.

(To read about Sgt Maj Perry's other assignments in Germany, click here.)

Drake Kaserne, 1973

1. Graduation ceremony

Ribbon cutting ceremony

Sgt Maj Perry


Sign on outer wall of Kransberg Castle - home of the 3rd Armored Division
NCO Academy, 1981 (James Butler)


Location of the 3rd Armd Div NCO Academy at Schloss Kaserne (Webmaster's collection)

Operation Gyroscope
(Source: 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead), April 1941 - November 1956, by PFC William R. Rock, 3rd Armd Div. Published by STARS & STRIPES, Darmstadt, Germany, March 1957.)
  Chapter 9: The "Spearhead" Reorganized: Destination Germany

In late September (1955) it was announced that the "Spearhead" Division (the Division had been converted from a training division to a tactical division on March 5, 1955 at Fort Knox, Kentucky) would be deployed in the general area of Frankfurt, Germany, in May and June, 1956, to relieve the 4th Infantry Division. There it would become a part of the famous Seventh United States Army. Placed in the narrowest portion of West Germany between the Rhine River and Soviet-dominated East Germany, the Third would be astride the Fulda Gap, one of the most famous invasion routes between the upper Rhine Valley and East Central Germany during the last 1000 years of European history.

The Division's first advance planning party, comprised of Major General Willems and four staff members, visited Germany from September 26 to October 6. There they participated in initial planning conferences on the overseas movement, deployment, mission, and support of the Division. Their itinerary included visits to USAREUR (United States Army Europe), Seventh Army, and V Corps Headquarters.
One week later (late October 1955), another advance planning party, a 15-man group led by Brigadier General Porter (Asst. Div. Commander), left for Germany. The second such party to be sent from the Division, they spent three weeks studying preparations for the movement of the Division to Frankfurt, laying the groundwork for the location and operation of the branches of the Division overseas, and reviewing plans for preparing Divisional units to assume operations immediately upon arrival in Germany.

Shortly after the second advance planning party to visit Germany returned to Fort Knox in late November, it was announced that the main body of the "Spearhead" Division would begin to leave Kentucky on its Gyroscope mission to Germany about April 25, 1956. Except for a small rear detachment, the entire Division would be in Europe by June 15, 1956. All troops would sail from New York City and dock at Bremerhaven, Germany, on the North Sea.

Division Gyroscope plans called for Combat Command "A" to be the first to leave for Germany, followed by Combat Command "C" as the second increment and Combat Command "B" as the third. Division Headquarters and Division Artillery Headquarters were scheduled to move with the second increment. In addition to their normal supporting ordnance and artillery moving with each combat command, it was envisaged that Division combat support troops, such as engineers and quartermaster, would be split between the three groups for overseas movement.

The same advance party report revealed the planned location of each unit in the Division during its three-year tour in Germany. Division Headquarters and Division Troops were to be stationed at Frankfurt, with Combat Command "A" at Kirch-Goens and Butzbach, Combat Command "B" at Gelnhausen and Buedingen, Combat Command "C" at Friedberg, and Division Trains at Hanau -- all within a 35-mile radius north and east of Frankfurt.

Throughout the month of December, the Division Dependents Processing Center was kept busy with a large number of 3d Armored dependents preparing for the move to Germany. A total of 1,173 families, including 2,918 dependents, were initially processed.

While training continued, however, more and more attention was focused upon detailed preparations for the actual movement of the Division to Germany. The sudden appearance throughout the Division area of numerous large corrugated steel packing containers stressed the imminence of its departure and emphasized an ever-increasing effort toward the tremendous tasks of packing, crating, and loading the equipment which would accompany the Division to Germany; of turning in that which would not; of checking personnel records, preparing shipment rosters, and insuring that all Division personnel were qualified for overseas duty from both a physical and mental standpoint.

The Gyroscope began to whirl on March 1, when the first plane carrying members of the Division's advance party to Germany departed from International Airport in New York City. During the next two weeks, 650 advance party personnel, both officers and enlisted men representing each major command, made the transatlantic flight. Brigadier General Porter flew to Frankfurt on March 14, in order to assume the duties of acting Division Commander in Germany.

It was the principal objective of the advance party to plan an efficient and expeditious replacement of 4th Infantry Division units with the incoming 3d Armored groups, and insure that all supplies and serviceable equipment necessary for assuring the combat readiness of each Division unit within 72 hours of its arrival were available. In addition, it was their responsibility to deal with other problems involved in a mass movement, including the reception and quartering of dependents, and coordination with V Corps, 7th Army, and USAREUR procedures.

Even before the last advance party plane had faded from the New York skyline, the overseas movement of the main body of the Division came one step closer to reality with the release of May-June ship assignments. Six major vessels, it was revealed, would carry the Division across the Atlantic: the military transports Darby, Patch, Geiger, Butner, Rose, and Buckner. All would depart from the Brooklyn Army Terminal, with a three-day interval between the sailing dates of vessels in each separate increment, and dock at Bremerhaven, Germany, on the North Sea. The estimated departure dates of the first ship in each increment were May 4, May 23, and June 11.

In mid-March, the first of five train loads of heavy equipment was loaded on railroad cars and readied for departure from the 3d Armored area at Fort Knox. Sixty-three flat cars carried 100 pieces of equipment, ranging from amphibious armored personnel carriers to self-propelled 105mm howitzers, to Hampton Roads Army Terminal, Norfolk, Virginia, where they were placed on vessels for overseas shipment.

The remaining pre-embarkation period was not all work and no play, however. The Division celebrated the 15th anniversary of its organization with a week-long schedule of festivities during the second week in April. Among the special activities were a military gymkhana featuring physical fitness tests, hand-to-hand combat, and first aid, mortar firing, and footbridge assembly demonstrations; sporting events; dances; a musical cavalcade; a helicopter square dance; and special out-door anniversary church services. The week of pageantry was climaxed by a colorful Division review on Brooks Field, a fitting "Spearhead" farewell to its year of training at Fort Knox.

The results of the Army Training Tests administered to all units in the Division during the preceding weeks were made known in mid-April. The results of these tests, which included day and night marches and selection of bivouac sites, as well as attack and defense tactics, showed commendable progress by all units, and indicated decisively that the "Spearhead" was in peak training condition, ready to assume its new role in Western Germany.

Division vehicles and equipment were ready, too. A Command Maintenance Inspection conducted by personnel from all 3d Armored technical services and supervised by representatives from the Second Army, revealed a high standard of maintenance throughout the Division. No less than ten "Spearhead" units received a "superior" rating, scoring 94 or more points out of a possible 100.

The electricity of anticipation among 3d Armored men reached a record high with the arrival of the month of May. The Gyro move that had been promised 15,000 men in the torrid basic training days in Kentucky was about to turn into exciting reality for the entire Division.

In the early morning hours of May 3, it began. Troops of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Combat Command "A"; the 13th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 143d Signal Co, complete with field clothes, steel helmets, and individual weapons, clambered aboard two transport trains sitting on Fort Knox sidings for the journey to New York. Arriving at the Brooklyn Army Terminal 26 hours later, the long trains pulled up at shipside, where the men, with a clicking efficiency which gave the impression of having been practiced all night, transferred to the USNS Darby. Promptly at 2 pm, the Darby sounded two ear-splitting blasts, and slipped away from Pier 4 with more than 1400 troops, 300 dependents, 11 dogs, and 2 cats aboard -- the first shipload of 3d Armored personnel to sail for Europe.

Chapter 10
  Early Saturday afternoon, May 12, a line was thrown out from the USNS Darby to dockmen at Columbus Quay in the Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation. After eight days at sea, the first major elements of the 3d Armored Division had arrived once again in Germany.

A brief but impressive ceremony, punctuated by the music of the Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation Band, was held at dockside. "You come not with orders to participate in battle, but with a NATO-assigned mission to preserve peace in Europe and in the world," Brigadier General Porter told the arriving troops. "You also come as guests and allies of the German people . . . . We shall be watched both by our fellow soldiers in the Seventh Army and by the Germans, and we want them to know us for what we are: a serious, hard-working, professionally competent armored division ready for any contingency." Then, under the weight of duffel bags and with rifles, carbines, and submachine guns slung over their shoulders, steel helmets on their heads, and strip packs on their backs, the soldiers filed down the gangway and boarded a waiting train for the 11-hour ride to Kirch-Goens.
  Meanwhile, two more transports bearing 3d Armored personnel had set sail from New York, and a fourth was busy loading men and equipment. With all of Combat Command "A" enroute to Germany, the Gyro move was in full swing. Troop trains shuttled back and forth between Fort Knox and New York, and transports sailed as scheduled from the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

The steel-helmeted troops who had disembarked from the Darby marched almost unnoticed into Ayers Casern, Kirch-Goens, during the early morning hours of Sunday, May 13. Four days later, after the arrival of the second shipload of Combat Command "A" troops, the colors of the 22d Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, were cased and those of Combat Command "A" unfurled, marking the first casern to come under 3d Armored jurisdiction.
  The "Spearhead" colors, accompanied by Division Headquarters Company, arrived in Bremerhaven on the last day of May. Appropriately, they had sailed aboard the USNS General Maurice Rose, named for the 3d Armored's famed World War II commander. On hand to greet the first ship of the second increment and review the colors of the new Division joining his command was Lieutenant General Lemuel Mathewson, V Corps Commanding General.

While ships bearing men of the second increment continued to dock at Bremerhaven, Major General Willems arrived at the Frankfurt/Main Airport on June 2, and was formally welcomed at Drake Casern, Frankfurt, two days later.
  The symbolic changing of the guard, the ceremony in which the 3d Armored Division officially assumed command of the sector of Central Germany formerly assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, took place at Drake Casern on June 9, when General Willems accepted the responsibility from Major General Rinaldo Van Brunt, 4th Infantry Division Commanding General. Although five more troop ships had yet to cast anchor at Bremerhaven, the "Spearhead" was officially in business in Germany. Its tri-color, triangular patch had taken its place alongside those of V and VII Corps, and the 2d Armored, 9th and 10th Infantry, and 11th Airborne Divisions as part of the Seventh Army, America's military bulwark in Europe.
The men of the "Spearhead" were back in Germany, but, unlike their fellow countrymen of 12 years before, they had come not as an occupying force in an enemy country but as guests of the sovereign German nation. They had come not to participate in battle, but to help protect the peace and security of Europe and the world. They had come not to support a war effort, but to throw their weight behind an extensive peace effort. The end was essentially the same, but the means were vastly different. Once among the mightiest of swords, the "Spearhead" had now to be one of the staunchest of shields.

The final event of the overseas movement was the arrival in Frankfurt on June 30 of Brigadier General Fitch, who had served as Division Commander (Rear) in the States, supervising the departure of the Division's last elements headed for Germany. On the preceding day, the last ship of the third increment had glided into Columbus Quay, Bremerhaven, and, with the arrival of those troops in Gelnhausen, the Division became fully operational.

Meanwhile, separate battalions of Combat Commands "A" and "C" left their Kirch-Goens and Friedberg caserns and took to the hills for their first real taste of overseas training. Their movement to "away from home" training sites initiated a steady flow of Division units to Wildflecken, a major training area to the east, and Grafenwohr, a still larger training site, replete with military history, some 250 miles from Frankfurt. The former training ground of the mighty Nazi panzer divisions commanded by Generals Rommel and Guderian during World War II, Grafenwohr began to hum with the sound of 3d Armored tanks rolling across its broad fields, and during the ensuing months every 3d Armored unit maneuvered there.

Early in July, all Division headquarters units moved to the field to participate in Command Post Exercise "Summer Stock," a week-long Seventh Army exercise conducted with the aim of perfecting the command framework into which troop units could later be fitted. The operation provided the Division with its first major foreign-soil training.
  During the third week in July, three top-level changes in the Division command were announced. Major General Willems, who had led the "Spearhead" since its reactivation, was to leave the Division in order to become Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 Intelligence, at USAREUR Headquarters, Heidelberg, Germany. Brigadier General Porter was named to succeed him as Commanding General. Moving into General Porter's vacated post as Assistant Division Commander would be Colonel James H. Polk, Chief of Staff, who in turn would be replaced by Colonel Donald V. Bennett, former Executive Officer of Division Artillery. The formal announcement of the elevation of General Porter and Colonel Polk came as the names of both officers were submitted to the United States Senate for confirmation of promotions to Major General and Brigadier General respectively.
The change of command ceremony took place on July 21, at Drake Casern. A 13-gun salute marked the departure of General Willems and the assumption of command by Major General Porter, who had received his second star earlier that day. In his farewell remarks, General Willems called the Division "one of the outstanding divisions of the Army and one of the very fine divisions stationed in Europe." Commanding the 3d Armored, he said, had been "one of the very great rewards" in his career as a soldier. In turn, General Porter proclaimed the Division "a living testimonial to General Willems' wisdom and outstanding leadership." More than 200 troops took part, including honor platoons and color guards from the Division's major commands.

A distinguished visitor toured a section of the Division area in late July. In the course of a threeday inspection of USAREUR installations and troop units in the field, Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker spent a half-day observing 3d Armored training. Arriving in Hanau early on the morning of July 26, he was greeted at the Compo Pond Training Area by General Porter and the Division Band and Honor Guard, and was taken to observe training already in progress. He watched tanks crossing pontoon bridges, the construction of infantry foot bridges, amphibious operations involving M-59 Armored Personnel Carriers, and the employment of assault craft for infantry attack. As the tour of various phases of armor, infantry, and artillery progressed, Mr. Brucker frequently consulted the officers and enlisted men involved in the operation.

After the series of demonstrations by elements of Combat Commands "B" and "C" and Division Trains, Secretary Brucker moved on to watch a reconnaissance, selection and occupation of positions demonstration staged by Battery "A" of the 509th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, and finally traveled to Grossheim (probably Grossauheim) on the Main River, where he observed the 23d Engineers and the 29th Armored Infantry Battalion practice the assault phase of a river crossing operation. He later expressed his pleasure at the type of training being conducted and especially noted the excellent spirit of the men.
  The 3d Armored Division Academy officially reopened in Hutier Casern, Hanau, on August 21. The courses of instruction offered again included both 60 Basic and Advanced Non-Commissioned Officers Courses and an Infantry Squad Leaders Course. A new addition to the Academy was a Radio School, operated under the supervision of the 143d Signal Company. Nine officers and 18 non-commissioned officers were originally named to the instruction staff, designed to operate on a rotation basis with married men serving three months and single men five, thus giving many younger officers and non-commissioned officers the opportunity to teach.

The Academy utilized both the lecture and conference methods of instruction, with liberal use made of training aids. All non-commissioned officer courses were four weeks in length, with the basic objective being to train the students in the principles of leadership and to increase their ability to teach. While the courses were basically the same as they had been at Fort Knox, there was a change in emphasis to fit immediate needs that were deemed more pressing. While at Fort Knox great stress had been placed on weapons and tactics, the Academy now began to emphasize intelligence, CBR (chemical, biological, radiological) warfare, leadership methods of instruction, map reading and maintenance.

New honors came to the Division during the last week in August. Seventeen selected enlisted men began four months of temporary duty with the Military Assistance Advisory Group to Germany. Nominated for outstanding leadership and soldierly qualities, the 17 "Spearheaders" were assigned to various German training sites to assist in the training program of the Bundeswehr, the new West German Army. As members of American instruction teams requested by the federal German Government, the men -- mechanics, light weapons infantrymen, medical aid men, supply specialists, and clerks -- were fully qualified in their military occupational specialties. They had been screened at each level of command and finally selected in personal interviews by General Fitch.

About the same time seven Division soldiers were chosen to travel to Antwerp, Belgium, to represent the United States Army at the annual memorial services honoring the Allied dead of World Wars I and II. The group, which served as an American honor guard, was composed of an outstanding enlisted man from each major command plus a member of Division Headquarters.

Meanwhile, training continued at a steady pace throughout the Division. Combat Command "A" undertook a month of field training amid the hills and broad sweeping valleys of Grafenwohr, and selected 3d Armored tankers sharpened their technical proficiency by attending courses at the Seventh Army Tank Training Center at Vilseck. Combat Commands "B" and "C," awaiting their turns to train at Grafenwohr, worked hard at training areas located near their respective caserns, the latter command staging a series of demonstrations for Lieutenant General Mathewson, V Corps Commander, in mid-September.

Three foreign generals visited the Division during September. Brigadier General Henri Dodelier, French Commander of Task Force "B" in Wetzlar, Germany, conferred with General Porter at Drake Casern, while Italian General Clementi Primieri, Commander of NATO Forces, Land South, and Major General Renato De Francesco, General Primieri's Chief of Staff, spent a full day at Grafenwohr on an inspection tour of 3d Armored units. A five-car caravan took the high-ranking Italian general over the dusty roads of the training site to observe 3d Armored training tactics, which he declared similar to those employed by the Italian Army.
  The men of the 83d Reconnaissance Battalion once again proved their combat adeptness in mid October, when, with the support of the 23d Engineers and the 65th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, they assault-crossed the Main River in a hasty crossing performed under conditions of total darkness and relative silence. The crossing was observed by members of the German press as well as 3d Armored officials, and presented a representative picture of an armored river crossing. Since the reconnaissance battalion is, for the most part, an armored division in miniature, infantry, tanks, and artillery were all represented. Personnel carriers crossed the river with infantrymen in six waves, then returned to ferry 36 jeeps in the following three hours. As the jeeps crossed, engineers completed a combat ferry and began the tricky operation of transporting tanks, half-tracks, and machine gun jeeps across the river. The following night the Main was bridged by the engineers, and the 83d crossed successfully a second time, this time keeping their feet dry.
  All elements of the Division moved into the field during the first week in November to take part in a giant V Corps exercise conducted in selected areas bounded generally by Wetzlar, Darmstadt, Bamberg, and Hersfeld, Germany. Nick-named "Sabre Knot," the exercise was designed to give troops and staff members additional field training under simulated combat conditions. It provided field tests for equipment and communications, tested mobility and logistical support, and emphasized the importance of small units as well as individual section, squad, and crew members in the total Corps effort.

For seven difficult days, Division units rolled back and forth across the sometimes frozen, sometimes muddy German terrain, alternately jabbing forward or defending vital areas in accordance with orders handed down from V Corps Headquarters. In order to keep abreast of the changing tide of "battle," most units moved their bivouac areas many times, usually executing the move in the dead of night. Yet all displayed, in the words of Lieutenant General Bruce C. Clarke, Commanding General of the Seventh Army, a "high order of professionalism and combat readiness which demonstrated leadership and ability of a high quality on all levels."
The completion of "Sabre Knot" marked the high point in the 3d Armored Division's two-year redevelopment into a top-notch combat ready unit. It was, as General Porter put it, the Division's "graduation exercise." The high level of tactical and administrative proficiency evidenced by the "Spearhead" throughout the exercise was ample proof of the tremendous advances it had made in preparing for its vital role in helping to protect the free world.

It was now recognized that the Division had attained the status for which it had been reactivated -- an alert, technically proficient, disciplined armored striking force. The problems of traversing an ocean and settling in a new land lay behind. The problems peculiar to Germany were no longer new to the men of the Division. They had met and mastered them. The task henceforth was to remain at top efficiency at all times -- always prepared for whatever tasks the Division might be called upon to perform.

1958 Yearbook
(Source: 3rd Armored Division, Yearbook 1958, Germany)

Combat Command "A"
, Kirch-Göns
2nd MTB, 1st Cav
2nd MTB, 13th Cav
2nd ARB, 36th Inf

2nd ARB, 46th Inf
3rd ARB, 51st Inf (former 746th Armd Inf Bn) (attached April 1, 1958)

Combat Command "B", Gelnhausen
1st MTB, 33rd Arm

3rd Rcn Sq, 12th Cav (former 83rd Recon Bn)
2nd ARB, 48th Inf

Combat Command "C", Friedberg - until March 1955, known as CC Reserve
1st MTB, 32nd Arm
2nd ARB, 52nd Inf


1963 Yearbook
(Source: 3rd Armored Division, Yearbook 1963, Germany)
  On March 5, 1955, Department of the Army made an announcement which set into motion the third phase in the history of the Division. The Spearhead which had won honor and glory in combat was once again to be organized into a tactical division. The reorganized division was placed under the command of Major General John M. Willems and during the first week in April, it was further announced that the Division would become a part of Operation "Gyroscope" -- the Army's new plan for rotating entire units to and from overseas bases. The 3d Armored Division was tentatively scheduled for rotation to Europe in May 1956.

The Division since that time has undergone extensive training including both summer and winter training periods at the Seventh Army reservations at Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels, and during the various field training exercises. Other notable occurrences began with the January 17, 1958, firing of the Division's first Honest John Rocket. The 73d Artillery's test proved to be 100 percent accurate. A visit by Francis Cardinal Spellman began the same day. He spoke to personnel at the Drake and Edwards Kasernes, and celebrated the Mass in Drake's gymnasium.


FTX "Sabre Hawk" began early the next month, and during its ten-day duration tested all portions of the Division in long-range and stay-behind patrols. The former furnished valuable information throughout the exercise. Spearheading the "Blue" forces under V Corps direction, the Division again gained praise for its maneuverability and coordination. With the entire Division committed to the field for ten days, there were no fatalities or serious injuries, the pay-off of never ending training. The Division's professional manner was exemplified by members of the 122d Ordnance Battalion when they accomplished 35 recovery missions and completed 381 jobs in service sections, 274 jobs in armament sections and 458 jobs in track and wheel sections.

In mid-March, it was announced by the Department of the Army that the 3d Armored Division had been withdrawn from the Army's Gyroscope plan. It also was learned that replacements would be supplied by a system of individual replacements and trained packets. The change was important to the Division as a whole because it now would continue to serve indefinitely as a part of the NATO bulwark of defense in Europe.

In June, the Division was presented with awards for its superior performance in the Seventh Army Tank Gunnery Program. Two awards, top honors in both the battalion and company phases of the program, were given for the high level of accuracy turned in by the 1st Cavalry during its firing at the Belsen-Hohne Ranges.

Division marksmen became Seventh Army champions in October 1958 as they stayed a fraction of a percentage point ahead of the 3d Infantry Division team in shoulder-to-shoulder matches. Some 360 marksmen competed for 48 individual awards with Spearheaders taking ten of them. The matches constituted 'firsts' in two respects: It was the first time that team trophies were awarded in addition to single awards for individual events, and it was the first time Spearheaders had defeated the 3d Infantry team -- pre-match favorites.

Familiar Division scenes were filmed in August during three weeks of work by photographers from Paramount Studios for its $2 million movie "GI Blues." It is the story of a soldier's life with the United States Army in Germany, starring Elvis Presley; but he didn't appear before the cameras until his discharge in March 1960,

All Division units participated in FTX "Winter Shield" during February 1960, Seventh Army's annual winter maneuver staged in the vicinity of the training center at Grafenwöhr. It was the high point of winter training and involved 60,000 men drawn from V and VII Corps and the Bundeswehr, as well as the 3d Armored Division.

It marked the first time that major units of the new German Army jointly participated with United States ground forces in a field exercise. It was a test of combat readiness and provided realistic training under simulated combat conditions, with emphasis placed on the role of the individual soldier and small unit leader. Training with advanced weapons and in all types of heliborne operations were practiced. Action consisted of a series of attack, withdrawl and counterattack operations, with the result that every type of participating unit benefited from the exercise.

Spearheaders moved to the field en masse again in November 1961 in preparation for FTX "Brandywine", a week-long exercise designed to test the Division's ability to move, shoot and communicate. Command control systems, logistical and administrative procedures, and teamwork between combat and support elements-in addition to small-unit tactical training--were included in the maneuver that was hampered with rain, snow, mud and fog.

The Division was supported by V Corps and Seventh Army units for a total of 26,000 men participating in the exercise. Pre-exercise training included cold weather indoctrination, CBR, map reading and intelligence training.

On May 19, 1962, Major General Creighton W. Abrams, Jr., Division Commander, was reassigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at Department of the Army. He departed the Division after having held his post since October 1, 1960, and was succeeded by the Division's present Commanding General, Major General John R. Pugh, who came from Second Army Headquarters at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.

Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara visited the Division October 5 that year, and was escorted by General Pugh. Secretary McNamara, dressed in field clothing, spoke to many Division officers and enlisted men as they went about their daily tasks. He was briefed on CCA's mission by, then, Colonel Arthur L. West, Jr., the Command's commanding officer. The Secretary terminated his visit by flying to Division Artillery's field command post where he was briefed on the command's mission.

Testing speed, mobility and striking power, the 3d Armored Division wound up the active year by moving to the field for FTX "Sabre Knot." The exercise involved more than 30,000 troops from the 8th Infantry Division, V Corps Artillery, 212th Artillery Group and 37th Engineer Group, as well as the 3d Armored Division. It was conducted in an area encompassing Bad Hersfeld, Giessen, Russesheim, Eberbach, Aschaffenburg and Fulda.
The Division began the problem by crossing the Main River at five different points between Hanau and Aschaffenburg by rafts, bridges constructed by engineers and swimming armored personnel carriers. Working in below-zero temperatures, all elements of the Division kept complete communications and continued to move throughout the remainder of the problem. "Sabre Knot" was the largest maneuver since FTX "Brandywine."

Highlights of 1963 began in May when Colonel Arthur L. West, Jr., was named Assistant Division Commander for Maneuver, replacing Brigadier General Kelsie E. Reaves who was reassigned to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Colonel West had, since August 1962, served in the Division as Commander of CCA. Colonel West was promoted to the rank of brigadier general August 1.

Brigadier General Fillmore K, Mearns arrived in the Division June 21 to assume duties as Assistant Division Commander for Support. He came from the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he had commanded Corps Artillery since November 1962.

The USAREUR Tank Crew Qualification Course record at Grafenwohr's Range 42 was smashed by Sfc Bobby P. Phillips and his crew when they ran the course during annual summer training. Their total score of 1,945 points surpassed, by a wide margin, the record set in November 1962 by a non-Divisional unit. In attaining the high overall score, the men also broke another USAREUR record: that of making 990 points on the night run.
The record setting mode continued with 76.25 percent of the Division's tankers attaining qualifying scores on the TCQC range. Fifty-one tank crews from the Division now wear the "Distinguished Tank Crew" patch as a result of their fine efforts during the grueling period at Grafenwohr.

Training periods at the Seventh Army Training centers include not only TCQC. Each Spearheader has ample opportunity to practice his skills, from mortar and artillery forward observers, to parachute packers. Training consists of firing tank gunnery tables for qualifications, 4.2-inch mortar firing, artillery service practice, gas chamber exercises, qualification and familiarization firing of small arms and automatic weapons, RSOPs for artillerymen, and company, troop, battery and battalion FTXs. These activities supplement normal garrison training, which includes company tactical training, heliborne operations, landmine warfare, river crossing techniques, tank gunnery refresher training and subcalibre gunnery instruction.

The Division underwent a complete revamping in reorganization under the ROAD concept September 1, 1963.

Operation "Big Lift" began October 30 and lasted for seven days. The 3d Armored Division acted as aggressors for the 2d Armored Division, air-lifted from Fort Hood, Texas; with action beginning near Kassel, Germany, in response to provocation by "enemy" forces patrols violating a hypothetical international border. The Division's offensive action drove elements of the "Hell on Wheels" Division back to the Main River and delayed a planned river crossing for more than 24 hours. Action such as this highlighted the entire maneuver.

This, then, is the Spearhead Division. The unit continues to add to its roster of noteworthy achievements. With its heroic and glorious combat record behind it and its unequalled success in maintaining the high training standards required for modern warfare, the Division confidently looks forward to the challenges the future will bring.

Click here to view the 1963 YEARBOOK (Source: Michael Gushwa)

(Source: Walt Leon, HHB 36th FA Gp, 1962-64)
See also Walt's comments and photos of Babenhausen.

On 25 June 1963, 3rd Armored Division hosted a big review ceremony at Fliegerhort Kaserne with over 15,000 troops and 700 pieces of wheeled and tracked equipment. Although predominantly from 3rd AD., some of the troops and equipment came from other USAREUR units.

President John F. Kennedy, in Germany for a state visit and on his way to Berlin to make his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech (26 June 1963), participated in the grand review. After reviewing the men and equipment massed along a mile-long parade front, he mounted a reviewing stand and held a short speech. (See The American Presidency Project website for an online transcript of the speech.)

The photos below show the tail end of preparations for the review. After several days of hard work, everything is ready for the demonstration of USAREUR armored and nuclear might.

Pres John F Kennedy
Fliegerhorst Visit , 1963

1. Mile-long parade front (KB)

Rows of APC's (KB)

3. M-60 tanks (KB)

4. M-52 SP's (KB)

5. M-44 SP's (KB)

6. Honest John launcher (KB)

7. Redstone Guided Missile (KB)

8. Nike Hercules (KB)


1966 Yearbook
(Source: 3rd Armored Division, Silver Anniversary Yearbook 1966, Germany)




1st Brigade Pocket Patch

2nd Brigade Pocket Patch

3rd Brigade Pocket Patch

3rd AD M-103 units (1)

Distinguished Platoon Patch

Mortar Crew Level
Qualification Patch

Maneuver Damage (FTX Silver Talon, 1966)
(Source: Email from Hans-Bernd Glanz, Germany)

The following photos and information are about a maneuver accident that occurred during 3rd AD's FTX "Silver Talon" on January 11, 1966 near the small town of Burgbernheim, between Ansbach and Würzburg.

Hans-Bernd's father worked for the Bundesbahn (German railway) on that day in a nearby train station ("Steinach bei Rothenburg"). It was a cold and snowy day and an armored unit participating in the field exercise drove down a narrow icy country road near the town of Burgbernheim. In a sharp curve one of the tanks went straight on and slid down the escarpment (Photo #1) to the train tracks below. When soldiers noticed an oncoming freight train, they tried to warn the train, but it was too late. The train collided with the tank and several boxcars and coal hopper cars were derailed and seriously damaged. Newspapers said that two soldiers suffered serious injuries, two other persons (including a train engineer) had minor injuries. Damages were estimated at 1 million German marks.

200 meters further up the road, another tank of the unit slid down the same escarpment but was stopped by some trees (Photo #4).

The destroyed tank was evemtually loaded onto a railway flatcar and sent to Hanau.

1. Military and civilian onlookers at the accident scene (124 KB)
2. Tank was buried by coal (103 KB)
3. Close up of accident scene (77 KB)

4. Second tank (104 KB)    
For some additional information on FTX Silver Talon, check out the 3rd AD PIO, 1965-1969, website (see Related Links below) and go to the Memorabilia Page.

3rd Squadron, 12th Cavalry
(Source: Author's private collection)

3rd Sq, 12th Cav

1. Tank park, location unknown
2. Waiting for orders (312 KB)
3. Shooting the breeze at the track park (282 KB)
4. Top of the Hill under snow, 1975 B 2-48 (261 KB)

5. Engine maintenance (283 KB) 6. Live ammo (232 KB) 7. Replacing tracks (172 KB)  
8. Field camp (163 KB)    

3rd Sq, 12th Cav M60A3 tank during tank gunnery at Graf (Frank Shirer)
(Source: Email from Frank Shirer, HHB, 3rd Armd Div Arty, 1985-87)
The photos posted here are from my second tour with 3d Armored Division, 1983-87, when I served with 3-12 Cavalry and 3d Armd Div Artillery HQ. I was the S-2 in both organizations.

1. S-2 section track

2. M60A3 fires downrange

3. M901 ITV

4. Firing positions at Graf

5. Tank trail

6. 2nd Lt Buck Henry

3rd Battalion, 61st Air Defense Artillery

MIM-72 Chaparral tracked vehicle of D Btry, 3-61 ADA at Armstrong Kaserne

Morning alert at the QRS
(Source: Email from Brian P. Melton, Armstrong Kaserne, July 1984-Jan 1986)
I served on a small kaserne in Büdingen, West Germany called Armstrong Kaserne. There were only two units there:
3-12 CAV and
3-61 ADA

I've been hoping to post my photos somewhere. I have a page on Google Earth/Panoramio. I have hundreds of photos of Budingen/Gelhausen as well as many of Armstong/Coleman kasernes (URL: www.panoramio.com/user/3676634 )
  These highway direction markers on Highway 457 near Büdingen point to several of the Hessen cities and towns that were also home to major US Army installations (with the exception of the village of Gründau) - a subtle reminder of the near omnipresence of the US armed forces in this part of Germany during the Cold War years.
1. M548 (KB)
2. Motor pool (KB)
3. Guard shack (KB)

4. Movie theater (KB) 5. Delta Btry (KB) 6. Main gate (KB)  

23rd Engineer Battalion

Looking towards the C Company end of the barracks, Hessen-Hmburg Kaserne (Doug Murphy)

Western end of Building #1004, Hessen-Hmburg Kaserne, Hanau (Doug Murphy)

Annotated map for Hessen-Homburg Kaserne, Hanau, around 1963
(Click on map to view higher resolution map)
23rd Engineer Battalion DUI
(Source: Doug Murphy, Facebook)

23rd Engr Bn

1. Sign and castle in D Co area

2. D Co CEVs

3. Ruhrstrasse separating Hessen-Homburg and Hutier

4. Ruhrstrasse separating Hessen-Homburg and Hutier

4. Looking towards the main gate

143rd Signal Battalion
(Source: Email from Richard Amoroso)
I was stationed in Frankfurt from 6 June 1968 till 30 May 1969. I 1049'd to Vietnam and ETS'd 6 July 1970. 

In Germany, I was attached to the 3rd Armored Division, A Co, 143 Sig Bn, Drake-Edwards Kaserne. Sound familiar???  I was a 31J20, as in a teletype repairman. 

Since everything we had was 100% tactical, I spent precious little time in a shop environment and almost all of my time in the field.  If it was a teletype, was hooked up to a KW7 and spent it's time in the field, I fixed it.  Obviously, I had a secret-crypto clearance. 

Made E4 in Germany and E5 in Vietnam.  Since I had this clearance, I was not allowed in Berlin. Why? Ask S2. I had NO idea. 

Most of our stuff was TT-4's, TT-98's,and TT-76's.  The 25's were strictly Comm Center stuff.  When I got to Nam, I was assigned to the 52nd Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade, out of Can Tho. Strictly Comm center, w/KW7's, KW26's, a LOT of AN/FGC-25's, TT-123's, 76's and AUTODIN equipment.   
I could chat about this for hours......ahhhh, the good old days......regards, Richard

(Source: SPEARHEAD, October 4, 1983)
  Article provides information on the 143rd Sig Bn.

503rd Military Police Company

Military Police Station, Ray Barrracks, 1969 (James Woodrum)

Military Police Station, Ray Barrracks, c. 1969 (James Woodrum)
3rd Armd Div NCBU crest (worn by 503rd MP Company)
(Source: Email from James Woodrum, 3rd Pltn, 503rd MP Co,
The 3rd Platoon of the 503rd MP Company was stationed at Ray Barracks in Friedberg.  I recall we had two or three squad leaders (usually a Sgt of which I was one), a platoon Sgt. and a platoon leader (Lt). 

Our primary function was to provide security and support activities to the 3rd Bde that was stationed at Ray Barracks. We escorted and provided traffic control during "alerts" and field training exercises. We provided law enforcement functions on post when called upon by various companies and a point of contact or report of criminal activities. We provided routine patrol of the post, Friedberg and Bad Nauheim. We assisted the German Police in incidents involving military personnel and their families.

Various companies in the Bde assigned staff to work as Unit Police (UP's) to work the front gate security however if a incident occurred the MP's were notified.

The 503rd MP Company's 3rd Platoon and the MP Station occupied the first floor of the building (see photo above). I recall some 3rd AD support company occupied the other floors, however, I do not recall what units.

3rd Pltn, 503rd MP Co

1. Entrance to MP Station

2. Sgt Jim Woodrum

3. Inside the MP Station

4. Main gate Ray Bks

5. Main gate, view from inside kaserne


Eschersheimer Landstrasse 153 - former MP Station (early 1970s)? (Google Street View)
Webmaster note: I read in the STARS & STRIPES that, in the early 1970s, the MP Station was located on Eschersheimer Landstrasse 153, near the Abrams Building. It looks like it was moved to Gibbs Kaserne at some point after that. Can anyone provide details?
(Source: Email from Tracey (Marshall) Wirth, 503rd MP Company, 1984-86)
I was looking at your website and noticed that the 503rd MP CO was not listed, neither under the 3rd Armored Division, nor under the link for Military Police link.  If you could add them on, I would be very grateful.  We even sent a couple of MP’s each day to work the road with the 284th MP CO at Gibbs Kaserne. 

In garrison, we pulled mostly gate duties and guarding general's loop over by Edwards housing. 

We would send a small amount of people every day to work with the 284h MP CO, so we would get a chance to work the road.  Every shift, someone (either 284th or 503rd) was picked to be the dispatcher for the shift at the MP Station on Gibbs Kaserne. 

After a while of working the road, I got chosen quite often to work as dispatcher.  I was also working as dispatcher the day the bomb went off at the Frankfurt PX (November of 1985).  What a busy day! 

I can't remember too much more of our garrison duties, but I'll keep trying and let you know when I come up with more.

Newspaper articles
  (Source: SPEARHEAD Special Edition, 1983)

Related Links:
3rd Armored Division Association The official Association of 3rd Armored Division Veterans site, for the period 1956 to 1992 in Frankfurt; a truly awesome site!)
3rd Armored Division History Site - (Updated URL!) A colorful and informative site that is packed with information about the Spearhead Division, including WWII, Cold War, and Gulf War. Begun in 2003, and one of the very best division history sites, it just keeps on growing.