Background of 69th United States Army Field Artillery Detachment
The 69th U.S. Army Field Artillery Detachment was formed in April 1963 in the U.S. regular Army as the 69th U.S. Army Missile Detachment. It was activated in West Germany during September 1963.
During the 1960’s the 69th were based at Fort Prince of Wales, Deilinghofen in support of the 1st Canadian Surface to Surface Missile (SSM) Battery, and also the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1RCHA). The 69th was one of a number of subordinate units of the 570th USA Artillery Group which was located in Munster (Handorf).
In 1967 the 69th supported both the Canadian 1SSM Btry, and 50th Missile Regiment Royal Artillery, in Menden. Two Honest John Teams supported the Canadians, while the British support consisted of two Honest John and two 8″ Teams. The storage site was fully operational and located a few kilometers away, on the back road to Menden. There were approximately 50 personnel assigned to the unit, including 5 single side band (SSB) radio personnel who were attached. A significant percentage (50% approx) of the first term soldiers were draftees, and a number of them had college degrees. The NCOs were seasoned and experienced, and at least a half-dozen of them had fought in the Korean War.
Single soldiers lived in the 69th’s Headquarters Building in Deilinghofen, while most married personnel occupied British housing in Menden. Single officers lived on the Camp in Building 9, the Canadian BOQ. Dependent school-aged children attended Summern Elementary School, or the Canadian High School. In 1968, 1SSM Btry relocated from Prince of Wales to Fort Qu’Apppelle in Iserlohn. Simultaneously, the 1SSM and 69th single officers relocated to the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (LdSH) Officer’s Mess in Iserlohn.
Strong relations were maintained with the Canadians and the British with training and exercises taking place. Because of the distance between Deilinghofen and Menden more time tended to be spent on a social basis between the soldiers of the 69th and the Canadians.
69th U.S. Army Missile Detachment was reorganised and redesignated as the 69th U.S. Army Field Artillery Detachment (69th USAFAD) in June 1970 and assigned to the 570th USAAG.
During the 1970’s the 69th USAFAD were still based at Deilinghofen, next door to O Battery (The Rocket Troop), 2d Field Regiment. The only affiliation with 2nd Field Regiment was that they shared the same base. The detachment supported both 24 and 50 Missile Regiments. At that time both 24 and 50th Missile Regiments were equipped with the Honest John rocket. At the time the detachment had all the Honest John warhead assets of the I (British) Corps. The Detatchment had six custodial/assembly teams, supporting both 24 Missile Regiment and 50th Missile Regiment.
The 1980’s and a move to Menden
Although the 69th USAFAD and 9th USAFAD had been supporting 50th Missile Regiment (and 24 Missile Regiment) for many years the detachment finally left Deilinghoffen and made a permanent move to Northumberland Barracks Menden in August 1980 and occupied block 11 within the camp, along with the smaller 9th USA Artillery Detachment.
The 69th was organized as follows: a Detachment Head Quarters section and four LANCE Maintenance & Assembly teams, one for each of 50th Missile Regiments batteries (each battery had three launchers). In total the detachment strength was, five officers, 21 NCO’s and 72 EM’s.
69th US Army Field Artillery Detachment (FAD) were responsible for the warheads in peace and war as well as control of the peacetime storage sites. Whilst UK forces would seek authority to release a warhead from the US’s command structure, the 69th FAD would seek a properly authenticated release message from the USA. Efforts were made to camouflage the personnel to prevent them being targeted by Spetnaz (Russian Special Forces) or their presence giving away the nature of the regiment’s mission. Accordingly they used British Army Land Rovers and Bedfords and although they used their own weapons and on occasions they wore British NBC kit.
The detachments were organised in a headquarters element and four maintenance and assembly platoons, each habitually associated with the four British Firing Battery’s. The total authorised strength was five officers, twenty one non-commissioned
officers and seventy two other ranks. The 69th USA Artillery Detachment was the largest detachment of the 570th US Army Artillery Group, Headquarters in Munster and was one of the largest in Europe. The Detachment was co-located with 50 Missile Regiment at Northumberland Barracks from August 1980 and occupied block 11 within the camp, along with the smaller 9th USA Artillery Detachment.
In addition to supporting 50th Missile Regiment, the detachment also had responsibility for the local ammunition site and a small American post exchange was located in the basement of block 11. The 69th USAFAD was finally deactived in 1993 with the demise of 50th Missile Regiment.
Where The Hell Is The Rest Of The Base?
“I went to Germany in February of 1982. I wound up in the 69th Detachment on a British Base known as the 50 Missile Regiment.
After being in a huge training facility in the states, I was expecting my duty station to be the same, huge. Well my first day out and about I wondered around for about ½ an hour and said to myself ‘Where the hell is the rest of this base?’ I could not believe it was so small. Amazingly, I had seen the whole thing before breakfast. In a way I was glad it was small because it became homelike quicker. There was always some kind of activity going on. Most everyone was polite and would say hello. Some of the lads looked at me as if I were crazy saying hello to them, but later I came to find out that as in any other place of the world there is good and bad. I found that some of the Americans there hated the British and vice verse. To me it was senseless but I would do my own thing.
In a days time I had settled into my room, and new surroundings of the Barracks. I have to say I liked it already. I arrived on a Friday so the weekend was mine to do as I pleased and that meant check out the town with my roommate and his friends. First we went to the shopping district to eat in the center of town so they could make a complete ass out of the new guy. We ate at an Italian Restaurant and the meal was quite good. After finishing the guy’s told me it was customary to belch as loud as possible to let the owner know the meal was good. So like an Ass I listened and did the belching. As they laughed peopled turned and smiled at me so I figured that’s what it was all about. Then when the waitress came to give us the bill they told me to say (I’m sure my spelling is wrong here) “Du habst ein schon ash” Supposedly to say “the meal was very good” but when this poor lady turned red in the face when I said it I knew that I had been had. Then they tell me the truth that I had just told her “you have a nice ass’ and man did I feel like one. This was my first day. What the hell was to expect in the next few hours?”
Writer Tom Lewis ex-69th USAFAD
Anglo-American One Up!
“My first posting to Germany in May 71 was to 2 Fd Regt RA in Hemer, my first time out of the UK – on arrival, what did I find – a detachment of yanks on the other side of the street in our camp right next door to HQ Bty offices!!
Competitions!! They had their sign 69th USA Missile Detachment, Home of the Professionals – and what did we put on HQ Bty – ‘We train the professionals’, then 69 USAFAD changed their sign to ‘Second to None’ – so we changed ours to ‘None’.
A great experience – I did temporary clerical duty with the Americans while their clerk (pronounced clurk) was in hospital.
On a personal note, I made a few friends with the Americans – even on a Remembrance parade, 69 USAFAD provided some of their men for the service and afterwards we all went to their bar – one of them had a chest full of medals, asked him what they were for – citation for enlisting, completing training, marksman, overseas theatre, etc – he then asked what mine was, the old inch of glory – GSM N Ireland – he called the others over saying “He’s got a combat medal”.
An enjoyable time until October ’73.”
Writer Jon Bevan ex Gunner HQ & L (Nery) Btys, 2 Fd Regt RA – 58 (Eyres) AD Bty, 12 AD Regt RA
Fondest Memories of British Nurses
“I arrived June of 1986, my first thought was oh my God, what happened to the base it is so small. I was taken to my room so I could unpack, I opened my window and just stood there wondering what the next 3 years would bring. I had no idea that permanent duty was so laid back until a black Sgt. (looked a little like Eddie Murphy) knocked and walked in, I yelled “AT EASE” and he was dumb founded. He turned and walked out of the room and got a named Ward (from Arkansas) to come over and explain things to me.
As the first few days went by I found out that some of the Americans did not like the Brits, but I did not have a problem with, as I looked at they as teachers. I learned a lot over there and have some of my British friends thanks to all the guys at the REME bar.
I guess the fondest memory is when the British nurses where on base from England for an exercise”.
Best Wishes Lads,
Phil Napier ex-69th USAFAD 1986-
Guard was rotated between the three platoons on a weekly basis
I was a CA with the 69th USAFAD in Menden from 1987-90. I was there when the Wall came down. We were on alert for several days while Washington decided what was going to happen.
We did lots of training, a few weeks in the field annually and of course guard duty at the site. We had three platoons with an additional platoon of the HQ slackers… I think we had one Volkwagen van and a couple of Deuces. The 50th Missile was our only customer and they supplied all of our transport. Can you say Bedford? In a sleeping bag?
After reading the other info on your site about the past not much had really changed. Daily trips to Muenster and a few trips to Giessen weekly for PX and getting out of another class on the sucking chest wound. We did a quarterly cycle of training so in the 2.5 years I was there I sat through the same classes 10 times.
Guard was rotated between the three platoons on a weekly basis. Guardmount was too early for a hung over PFC. I made it but there were a couple of times that there was a no smoking sign on my body armor. I might have blown up. There were random “piss tests” each month. Not a very effective measure since I never got busted. Oh well. Man, I wanted that go home early card but I never got it. Today I am glad but the dumb kid wasn’t happy about it.
I was the RTO for 2nd platoon and I held the dubious honor of having been promoted to E3 three times. 1SG Anderson, SSG Robert Whipple, SFC Rice, and SGT Sanchez were all there when I was on post. Captain Ward Hawley was commander when I left but I don’t remember the other CO. He was a huge guy but he left soon after I got there. My last platoon leader was LT Rainey. A good guy.
Some guys I served with were John Kemp, Phil Napier (Hi Phil! Sorry about the boots. I was an ass and you suffered for it.), “JJ” Johnson, Calvin Johnson, SPC Brogdon, Vincent Rampello (Who could forget him? Huh, Chief?), “Gunny” Lane, and Jorge Acosta, Todd Austin, Spec Hand and PFC Jack.
We had a mess hall but the Mess Daddy had lots of trouble getting us to eat there. The food wasn’t bad but we all left as soon as possible to head out into the economy. They had beer. So did the Brits at their NAFFI store in the same building as our barracks. We had ration cards for booze at the NAFFI and they had all the good stuff so we almost never shopped at the PX in the basement. I only took passes while I was in so I could get out with terminal leave sooner. Honestly, while the Army taught me many good things, I hated it and I wanted out. I owe Captain Hawley a big “Thanks” for not pitching me out in the last few months of my tour. I deserved a discharge for some of the stuff I did but he saw I was a dumb kid and he helped me despite myself. As a side note, I was the only PFC (sometimes E2) who had his own room in the barracks. I was a total pain in the ass but that made me less of a problem for them… In hindsight I regret many of my actions and words while I was there.
On the positive side my father was living in Dusseldorf during my tour so I got to see him several time a month. That time with him was good for both of us.
I’m back home here in the Northwest after some time in Texas and Florida. Life is much better here, a bit slower too. I have a wife and a couple of the cutest kids on the planet and I am working as a telephone technician.
I was glad to see that Herman had made the barracks into housing. There was a big web site about the remodel but it might be gone now. I remember Papa’s bar too. There was a german (and off limits too) biker bar in Menden that played lots of Deep Purple. Several times I took some guys and we went to Dusseldorf to drink. New years eve of 1989 was a rough one and we almost wound up in Berlin. The train back from Dusseldorf kept going to the border and we had to stay awake to make a connection.
(Writer Greg “Mark” Borgeson)