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The Deployment of 6-52 to Germany

by CSM(R) D.R. Hamilton

6-52 Activated

Last exercise at Bliss, HHB mess area, 1961Last field exercise at Ft. Bliss prior to deployment, Apr 19616-52 was redesignated 1 November 1960 as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6th Missile Battalion, 52d Artillery (organic elements concurrently constituted).  The battalion was activated 17 November 1960 at Fort Bliss, Texas.1  Officers, NCOs, and soldiers were brought in throughout the Army to makeup the Battalion.  6-52 underwent basic unit and advanced unit training at Ft. Bliss.  As I recall, there were 3 battalions activated at the same time.  One going to Germany (6-52), one going to Korea, and one going to Okinawa.

USNS Gen Simon B. Buckner (AP 123)
Navy Transport Ship
609 Feet
22574 Tons F.D.
Accommodations for 474 Officers and 1545 Enlisted
Delivered 01/24/45
Stricken 08/20/90

Aboard USNS Buckner enroute to Germany, Jun 1961The battalion left the United States from New Jersey in June 1961 aboard the USNS Buckner and we arrived somewhere around mid-month June. The battalion commander at the time was LTC John Tichner; the battalion Sergeant Major (the designation CSM was not used then) was SGM Victor Hayward: two fine men and  outstanding leaders.   Most of the NCOs then were WWII and Korean War vets.

Upon arrival in Germany HHB & Btry A went to Emery Barracks (also referred to as "Emery Kaserne" in Würzburg), Btry B went to Bamberg, Btry C to Giebelstadt, and Btry D to Wertheim. The Battalion TOC was out East of Würzburg about 10km (I believe there is an autobahn running through that location now). The Battalion was the first fully operational HAWK Battalion in the Army.  At the time we were under the 69th Arty Gp, its HQs use to be on the 2d floor above the Battalion HQs.

First fully operational HAWK Battalion in the Army.

The author was assigned to 6/52 at Ft. Bliss in 1960. A PFC at the time, D.R. started out as the battalion welder, to mechanic, to motor sergeant for HHB; and in between drove for the battalion commander for about a year and half, stayed with the battalion until June 1965. D.R. became a field artilleryman in 1966 while assigned at Fort Riley in the 9th Infantry Division, and remained in field artillery until his retirement in 1990.  D.R.'s overseas tours included: Germany (4), Vietnam, Korea, & Alaska.
Awards include: MSM(4) and the Legion of Merit.  D.R.'s last duty assignment was as the Command Sergeant Major for the 1st Armored Division Artillery, Zirndorf, Germany.

6-52 was the first operational HAWK Battalion in the Army. The other two at the time were still in training phase. There were no HAWK Battalions in the United States. Due to the Cold War and the Soviet threat, the first priorities were Europe and other overseas locations.

"The Attic", HHB Emery Bks 1961Once each battery got to their respective location we found that the billeting left a lot to be desired (I believe this was, to varying degrees, a problem in all the batteries).   In HHB about 1/4 of the battery was put up in the attic (just one big open space with rows of cots) simply because that was the only place to go.  With no proper storage available, shipping crates and boxes were used for wall lockers and footlockers.   Bn Hqs in 1961That situation lasted about four to six months, if my memory is correct.  Of course there were also no latrine facilities up there, so soldiers had to walk downstairs to use the latrine.  It was well over a year before latrine facilities were put up in that attic. The missile sites were, for the most part, nothing more than just an unimproved spot on the ground.  The sites came under a kind of "improve your fox hole" on a day to day basis.  Slowly they became improved sites through the process of evolution.

The Berlin Crisis

We (6-52) were in Germany when the Berlin Wall went up.  That action caused a full scale alert, with fingers on the trigger.  As I recall, we stayed at full-alert for around 3 days.  Everyone was saying, "We picked a hell of a time to come to Germany".  Last field exercise at Ft. Bliss prior to deployment, Apr 1961

D.R. Hamilton in 1964
The 6-52 was my first TOE unit of assignment out of AIT. The officers & NCOs of the battalion had alot to do with me reenlisting while with the battalion, and staying in the Army for 30 years. The NCOs were true professionals and knew how to get the most out of the soldiers. Their knowledge of soldiering skills were next to none and the mission would always be accomplished to exceed the standards. These great professionals taught me more about being a soldier than words can explain.The lessons they taught me, I put to use over and over again during my career. A special salute to:
SGM Victor Hayward
1SG Buck
1SG Candler
SSG Wallace Fisher
SFC Jim Taylor
SSG Carlos Brogden
SFC Luke

In 1963 the firing batteries (in part) flew back to Ft. Bliss/White Sands to do the second annual qualification firing.  That turned out to be a huge success.  I can't remember the exact numbers but it was something like 92.8% success rate!!  They did so well that the Battalion was awarded the Lyman L. Lemnitzer Award.  That   four star general personally showed up for the presentation, with the entire Battalion standing in formation up at Leighton Barracks.  Everyone crowed about that for months.

Answers to Questions from Our Alumni

Question: Being the first operational HAWK battalion in the Army, where you inundated with official visitors?

We had visitors and evaluators by the truck loads for the first 6 months or so in Germany, everything from a LTC to four star looked at the battalion. We (the Battalion) were busy as a one leg man in a butt kicking contest for that 1st 6 months, mainly due to the effort of getting up to speed for USAREUR. When we were there the Battalion wore the 7th Amy patch.  Our chain was 69th Gp, 32, 7th Army, and it seemed someone from those HQs was looking at us everyday. 

Question: How exactly did the unit get to the ship in New Jersey? Was there new equipment there waiting?

Some of the equipment went separately from the United States and some we picked up from depots that had been stocked while we were in training phase at Bliss. 

When we left Ft. Bliss, everyone departed on ordinary leave with orders to report to New Jersey by whatever date it was, to board ship. So everyone showed up there on there own -- and it worked.  We boarded ship with duffel bags and what we had on -- that was it. The officers and NCOs that were married at the time had wife and family aboard ship also. Of course the troops were down in bottom of ship and the married folks had a nice cruise across the pond!!  It took 8 days to cross and arrive at Bremerhaven.   From there we went by train.

Also read more on the Early Days of 6-52.


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