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Cold War Casualties
While the Cold War did not generally produce casualties as other wars do, many soldiers still lost their lives while serving on freedom‘s frontier. Most of the casualties died in training accidents, these soldiers died in foreign lands protecting freedom. So we wanted to honor these veterans for their ultimate sacrifice for our country. The names of these Spearhead soldiers will be added in chronological order. If we get information about the facts surrounding each soldier we will publish the story behind each soldiers death.
If you have additional information or additions that need to be made about any of these soldiers please contact the webmaster.
Vincent Steiner of D Battery 57th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, died from brain hemorrhage while on duty at the Fligerhorst Kaserne on 31 October 1955. Vincent Steiner was a mechanic serving as part of the 3d Armored Division advance party for Operation Gyroscope. Cpl Victor M. Motherly a former P.O.W in the Korean War escorted his body home to Ohio. This information was provide by his daughter to honor her father.
PVT McAllister C Company 709th Tank Battalion was killed on base by another soldier in 1955. This information was provided by Joe McElreath: PVT McAllister was killed on post atFt.Knox KY when he confronted another soldier for not doing his mess duty job. This soldier didn’t like following orders and he told “Mac“ he would meet him in the parking lot after they got off duty. Mac went to the lot. The guy had stolen a butcher knife from the mess hall and he jumped on Mac’s back from behind stabbing him several times. Mac died before he got to the hospital. It is unknown how much time this coward spent in prison for this act. Mac was a good soldier and friend. May god bless his soul.and thanks for listing his name.—I was one of his many friends in the army. Joe McElreath
PVT Stefan J. Maj Jr A Company 23rd Engineer Battalion was run over by an M48 tank during a night exercise at Grafenwöhr in 1956 or 1957. He and another soldier were posted to guard a corner intersection. One was supposed to keep watch while other slept. The tank cut the corner where they were dug in. The survivor said he was the one who was sleeping. PVT Maj was still alive & was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Nüremberg. He was DOA. We called him Maj (also on his name tag) since his Slavic name was long and difficult to pronounce. After his death we learned that as a child he was interred in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, reportedly not too far away from where he died. PVT Maj emigrated to the States after the war. A draftee in 1955, he said his family was opposed to his being assigned to a unit which was scheduled to replace 4th Infantry Division in Germany.
We have this additional account of this incident from Henry Wheat:
Pvt Stefan J Maj Jr was from Somerville, NJ, this was something we had in common because I was also from NJ, about 20 miles north of Somerville, a town called Parsippany. However, I did not know Maj until we met at FT Knox. Maj and his family did emigrate to the US from Czechoslovakia after WW2. He was drafted into the Army in July 1955 and assigned to A co, 23rd, AEB, 3AD. We trained with the unit at Ft Knox and arrived in Hanau, FRG on June 10, 1956. We were in our barracks in Hanau less than two months when A Company was sent to Grafenwohr during August 1956 for extensive training in the field.
We were told that we would be at Grafenwohr for a few weeks, everything went smoothly and near the end of our stay we participated in a field exercise with other units of the 3AD. The field exercise lasted two days and at the end of the second day our platoon pulled into an open field, that was surrounded by woodland, for some chow and a rest period. We were hungry and tired with little sleep in the previous 36 hours. We were gathered around our vehicles eating our meal when an infantry officer, a major, appeared and ordered us to disperse because the field exercise was not over.
We hurried to finish our meal and were told to pair off across the field. Maj and Landrio the driver of A-11, APC walked out into the field and placed their air mattress and sleeping bag on the ground, crawled in and went to sleep. Their sleeping bags were not side by side but head to head at 90 degrees to each other. My sleeping buddy and I were only a few yards away from them. During the night a tank came through the field missing everyone sleeping on the ground except Maj and Landrio. Because of the position they were in, at right angles to each other, the treads missed Landrio, the two tracks passed on each side of him, however one track ran over Maj. He and Landrio were transported by ambulance to the hospital in Nurnberg where Maj was DOA. Landrio suffered no injuries and was released the next day.
Landrio told me later that Maj was alive during the ride to the hospital. They had a conversation during most of the trip. He did say the ride was rough and bumpy and they felt every bump which made the pain greater for Maj. Two days later A Company attended a memorial service in the chapel at Grafenwohr with Maj’s closed casket in attendance. Just to set the record straight, no one was posted to guard a corner intersection and no one was supposed to keep watch while the other slept.
PFC (We need a name) of the 33d Tank Battalion was working in tank maintenance and was directing a tank into a service stall when it pinned him against a wall and crushed him to death.
(Name) 83rd Recon Battalion, (Name) was killed when he was pinned between a laundry truck and
the wall of the barracks sometime between 1956 and 1958.
CPT Edward Young of Headquarters Company, 33d Tank Battalion died from a self-inflicted 45cal gunshot wound to the head. This occurred in his office at midday while others were working in nearby offices.
(We need a name), 2nd Battalion 73rd Field Artillery (We need a name) who had just arrived five days earlier assigned to the 73rd Arty Hanau was killed when a spade was released from a tank and it crushed him during 1959 or 1960.
This information provided by Bob Bollman: While stationed in Gelnhausen, Germany I was at Wildflecken in 1958-9 with the 6th Field Artillery, 3AD. The weather was terrible. There were 3 or more casualties. One was accidentally shot in barracks, one was a jeep rollover and one was a tank turret accident. I don’t remember any more details. These were sad memories but I would like to know more about them now.
In one terrible accident on Friday 2 September 1960 at Grafenwöhr, Germany a howitzer from Battery A, 3d Battalion, 18th Field Artillery, an element of the V Corps Artillery, fired an 8 inch projectile with an incorrect charge. This round landed outside of the impact area in Camp Kaserne where the 3d Reconnaissance Squadron, 12th Cavalry of the 3d Armored Division was bivouacked. When the round impacted 16 soldiers were killed and a further 26 were wounded. The table below list the names and units of those killed and wounded.
|Mappin, Jack W. Jr. MSG||A/3-12 Cavalry|
|Rodgers, Edward V. SFC||C/3-12 Cavalry|
|Cochran, Charles SGT||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Eastham, Jack L. SP5||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Beckworth, James B. SP4||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Johnson, Earl SP4||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Merrill, William A. SP4||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Barofaldi, Robert E. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Harris, Norman D. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Higman, Michael J. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Love, David L. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Lucas, Elmo M. Jr. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Nelson, Charles L. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Parker, J. C. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Pleshakov, George PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Saurino, Augustine PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Sergeant, Charles W. SFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Crum, Melvin R. SFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Gaynard, Grant SFC||C/3-12 Cavalry|
|Coomer, Robert R. SFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Egland, Clarence C. SFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Mollett, John B. SFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Tilley, James V. SGT||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Oldziejewski, Alesky SP4||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Riechter, Charles SP4||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Howard, Robert H. SP4||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Pinkley, Norman G. SP4||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Wilson, Robert L. SP4||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Bibler, Douglas A. PFC||A/3-12 Cavalry|
|Carr, Richard L. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Eichenlaub, George H. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Richards, Lawrence PFC||C/3-12 Cavalry|
|Romweber, George P. “Peter” PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Szuravkin, George PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Carey, Jesse L. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Church, David J. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Fisher, Charles D. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Patton, Thomas F. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Robbins, Keith C. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Siner, Bobby PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
|Vaughn, Franklin W. PFC||D/3-12 Cavalry|
From Basil J. Hobar, Colonel, USA (Ret), Alexandria, VA and Bonita Springs, FL:
I was looking for information on this incident for a memoir I am writing for my children and found your website on an Internet search. I was a second lieutenant in the 3rd Inf Div in Bamberg, Germany at the time of the terrible incident. I remember the news of it spreading like wildfire and the ensuing fallout. I have no first hand information on the incident and for me it was a news story only until quite a few years later.
In 1965/66 I was serving in the 5th SF Gp (Abn) in Vietnam on Detachment C-3. My boss, the detachment XO, was one Major Joseph C. Lutz, Armor. One day we got to talking about that incident and Major Lutz told me that he was the commanding officer of the cavalry troop that was on the receiving end of the artillery round! He was probably a captain at the time of the incident.Joe Lutz continued in Special Forces and rose to the rank of Major General. He died several years ago. I thought you might want to add this information to your description of the incident. I served in the 3rd AD from 1976 to 1979 so I am an old Spearheader too!
From Thomas R. Derzon on this incident:
I was in B Troop of the 12th Cavalry 3rd Recon Sq. on September 2, 1960 at Grafenwöhr when the artillery shell overshot the impact area and landed in the D Troop arms tent. It as an 8 inch howitzer that had too big a bag charge of powder. A few years later I found myself working along side a fellow veteran who was actually on that gun crew. Everyone concerned was devastated by the incident. Our hearts and minds when out to our fellow troopers who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom even though it was peacetime. The only positive was that on all of our remaining trips to Grafenwöhr, we never again had to stay in tent city. We paid the price.
Documents/Graf Incident Article.pdf
The above link takes you to a section of the USAG Hessen command information newspaper, the Herald Union. I thought you might be interested in the story of page 6 of the PDF file. It tells the story of a former 3-12th, 3rd AD Soldier who pushed to have a memorial put up for 16 3-12th Soldiers that were killed in a training accident in Grafenwoehr, Germany in 1960.
USAG Hessen Herald Union
This account is from Bennie C. Holtsclaw. As a forward observer for the 2nd Howitzer Battalion (105 SP), 3d Artillery, Combat Command A, 3AD, I was directing fire from the air in an L19 aircraft on 2 Sep 1960 at Grafenwoehr training post. I had just completed a mission when a “cease all fire” message came over the radio. From what I was hearing at the time I understood that there had been an accident but I did not know how serious. I did hear a message that required all units to stay in place until further notice. There was some difficulty with radio transmission between 3AD and the Graf Post Commanders. Since I was in the air I offered to relay messages and was ordered to stay in the air as long as possible and continue to relay messages. My pilot said that we had plenty of fuel and could stay up for a while. In less than an hour I was relieved of my relay duties and we landed at the Graf airport. By the time I got back to my unit it was pretty well known what had happened. At the time it was reported that 17 had died and “many” were wounded. It was a sad and somber day for many of us in the 3AD that day. May the good Lord continue to keep His comforting arms around all those families involved. Bennie C. Holtsclaw (1Lt., 2FA, CCA, 3Arty,3AD – Dec ‘58 – May ’62) Cedar Point, KS
SGT Fisher a tank commander was killed in a night- training accident when his tank over-turned and caught fire. The accident happened in 1960 at Area M near Schweinfurt, Germany.This information was provided by R. Turner.
2LT Dick Baylor of the 23d Engineer Battalion was killed when the car he was driving overturned and crushed him. Info provided by Osborne Oakley, 23d Engineer Battalion, 1959-1962.
SSG Croston Battalion Motor Sergeant of the 23d Engineer Battalion was killed when a car he was driving ran off the road and into a tree. Info provided by Osborne Oakley, 23d Engineer Battalion, 1959-1962.
Unknown Soldier (we need a name) of the 23d Engineer Battalion died in a knife fight outside a bar on Lamboy Strasse in Hanau, West Germany. Info provided by Osborne Oakley, 23d Engineer Battalion, 1959-1962.
SP4 Richard Buzzell of B Company 1st MTB 32d Armor I don’t recall exactly what year this happened (1960-61) a fellow named Buzzell was killed when a jeep rolled over on him during a training exercise at Wildflecken. I’m not sure but I believe that Buzzy was in B. Company, My name is Kenneth R. Ashby and I was stationed at Ray Barracks from Jan 1960 to Oct 1962. I was initially in the Scout Platoon of the 52 ND Armored Rifle Bn until I raised enough ruckus and was transferred to the Support Platoon HQ Co. 1st MTB. I was finally transferred to 2nd Platoon, C. Company where I stayed until rotation Stateside. Here is an additional comment from Carl Barnett: In the case of the 1961 accident with SP4 Buzzell, I knew him but not real well. I was a member of the 1st BN 32AR scout platoon (HQ company) from April ’61 to Oct ’63 and I recall the event. Buzzell was within a couple months of rotating back to the world. It was a sad event.
This update was provided by Gerald Benton who served in HHC 3-32AR 1960-1962. SP4 Buzzell who is listed as a 1961 Cold War Casualty was a very close friend. Buzzy, as he was called, was named Richard Buzzell. He was assigned to Hq Co.Commo Platoon. I remember that many questions were raised about the correctness.of his accident report. At the time he was driving for a Captain.The story went: Buzzy got stuck on a icy ledge. The Captain got out of the jeep and told buzzy that he would walk back for help and not to try to move the jeep. The Captain left walking.The Jeep had two(2) angrc19 radios. When help arrived, Buzzy was found down the ledge pinned underneath the jeep. Buzzell was from Boston, Massachusetts and I remember that he didn’t pronounce R’s.
This update was provided by John Gammons. I was a member of the Hq.& Hq. Tank Section for a short time, we were attached to Company B. It is there I first met Richard (Buzzy) Buzzell and we became good friends. I subsequently moved on to the Scout Platoon and then on to Bn. Staff Section. I was the driver for Major John B. Noel who was the Bn. S-2 the night in Wildflecken when Buzzy was killed.
We were on Umpire detail during company and platoon test. I was driving Major Noel and Buzzell was driving Captain Jenkins. How Buzzy was assigned the driver for Captain Jenkins I have no idea. Captain Jenkins was an unassigned officer working out of Bn. Hq. We picked out our areas to umpire and split up agreeing to meet back at the mess truck for hot coffee later.
It was our first time in Wildflecken as a unit. For whatever reason we had not been to Wildflecken before. We had done most of our company and platoon testing in the Friedberg Training Area (FTA) or in Grafenwohr.
The night was cold, clear and the stars were out. Major Noel and I had just driven through an area where shortly before our Scout Platoon had carried out a tear gas attack on a platoon of tanks parked in a small wooded area. Suffering from the effects of the cloud of tear gas I had just passed through, we pulled over to the side of the road, washed our eyes with water and I was sitting in my jeep. I had my head back on the backrest looking skyward at the little dipper, hoping the tearing would stop, when radio traffic started talking about an accident. A jeep had rolled over and the driver was hurt. I sat there looking at the stars while subsequent radio traffic told us it was Captain Jenkins and his driver involved. They were up a steep narrow hillside trail slick with mud and had trouble turning the jeep around when the accident happened.
Subsequent messages became more and more urgent. There was no way they could get an ambulance up to the area. The driver was too badly injured to be carried down. There was talk about getting a helicopter up to the area. This told me things were very bad. I was saying all the time ‘damn it somebody do something.’ Major Noel kept telling me things were going to be fine. Then came the news that Buzzy was dead. When the jeep turned over the radios and radio rack had crushed his head.
A day or so later, after we were back in Friedberg, I went over to the Hq. Tank Section to see who would be going to the memorial service being held for Buzzy. When I walked in I was told that Buzzy’s brother had arrived to escort the body home. I can not remember if his brother was also stationed with the Army in Germany or if he had come from the states. I do know that when I was introduced to his brother I was shocked to see that his brother looked just like Buzzy.
That event happened some 48 years ago. From that night to this, whenever the night is dark and the stars are out and I can locate the little dipper I think back to that night and the death of Richard Buzzell. For over 48 years now the little dipper has been known by me as ‘Buzzy’s Stars.’ Rest in peace Buzzy.
SP4 Jackson of HQS Platoon D Company 3d Med.Tank Battalion was killed when he was run over by a
M-48 A-1 tank which he was ground-guiding. SP4 Jackson was training at Grafenwöhr, Germany –
WinterShield II in 1961. His favorite song was Georgia On My Mind. Information provided by Roscoe Turner.
PFC Byrd of the 3d MTB of 37th Armor was killed in an automobile accident in June of 1961. Information provided by Roscoe Turner.
E-4 Phil Murray, Company B, 2/33 HTB Armor died within 5 days of rotating back to the states. Phil and another short timer took a jeep that morning and were returning to Ayers Kaserne that afternoon when they hit a guard rail, overturning the vehicle and Phil was killed. He frequently came by my office and told me what he and his dad were planning when he got back home; Phil seemed very close to his dad and it must have been devastating to lose Phil so near going home. I’ve remember him all these years and here is a photo of him standing outside next to the company sign. Splendid fellow. Information provided by E-4 Bob Lamascus, S-4 Clerk, Service Battery, 2/3 Field Artillery, 1962-1964. Additional information from SGT John Tunstall: I served with B Co. for about 34 months, ’60 -’63. I too shipped out of Bremerhaven — on the Bruckner. And yes, I remember Phil very well. We were good buddies. I said goodbye to him when we left for Graf that summer and he stayed behind to rotate out. It was a shock when I heard he had been killed. I rotated out a few weeks after the incident so it was years before I heard the rest of the story. The kid driving was named Macaffrey or McCaffry, 1st name Bob, I think. And CQ that night, named Worthy and also due to rotate, was held over for the investigation.
PFC Heath of HHC 2/33 Armor – It has been too many years to remember the exact date, but it happened in the winter of 1963 when the 2d Armored Division was flown over to Germany for the war games. PFC Heath died of carbon monoxide poisoning. My driver and I provided first aid, but we could not help him. There was a big CID investigation into his death. He was a good friend that I made while at the rock. This information was provided by James Lowery.
SSG Unknown. From David Melton, Company clerk of HHC, 3d AD from Oct 62 to Nov 64: I had been a clerk in AG PM, 503rd Admin Co. for about 5 mos before that. I remember anincident involving E-7 (MSgt E-7, old rank or SSgt E-7) hanging himself. He was of Italian descent, Deluccio or something like that. I remember that he worked in Division Publications, 503rd Admin in an old stable down by the theater at Drake Kaserne. He was about ready to retire, but had to pull one more hitch overseas without his wife and two daughters due to marital troubles. After he received a “Dear John” letter, they found him hanging from a rafter. I didn‘t know him well but had some dealings picking up things at Publications. I remember he was real quiet and very nice guy. This was in 1963 or 64.
SP4 Thomas was stationed at Ray Barracks in Friedberg, Germany. Pardon me for not remembering his first name, it’s just been too long for me. He was a gunner on one of the M60 tank crews there. He was out partying the night before we moved out to our assembly areas for operation “Big Lift” and apparently went to sleep in his old car with the motor running on a very cool night. Both he and his girl friend were found dead the next morning. This information was provided by John D. Godby
_____Brenner of HHC 2nd Battalion 33rd Armor, Brenner was shot by the COAX machine gun while standing on the front slope of an M-60 Tank while talking to the tank driver.
SFC Cruz of A Company 1st Battalion 36th Infantry, was shot by one of his soldiers that he had recommended should receive an Article 15. CPL (name removed) received a life sentence to Fort Leavenworth.
SGT Young(s) of HHC 1st Battalion, 33rd Armor. We have received the following account of this incident written by then Lieutenant Richard Allen: “The two guys involved were Sgt(E5) Gilmore who did the shooting and Sgt (E5) Youngs who got shot. They were in the Radar Plt. GSR was attached to the S2 office and I was S2 at the time. Gilmore had been an E5 for a while. Young or Youngs, I can’t remember which, went to radar school and graduated at the top of his class. He got promoted as a result. The morning of the shooting Gilmore was in bed. HHC had it’s morning formation and the First Sgt noticed that Gilmore wasn’t there. He sent Young upstairs to get him. Gilmore woke up hung over and mad. He came downstairs and got his M14 from the arms room. He went into the Radar track and got a magazine. Young was standing next to the First Sgt and Gilmore said “move aside Top or I’ll shoot you too.” He then shot Young a bunch of times. Lt. Marhoffer from 1/48th had a new Volkswagen parked next to them and it was splashed with blood. Gilmore turned and the Radar Plt Sgt, whose name I forget, called to him from about 50′ away.He was duty NCO and was in the room with the radio since he hadn’t been relieved. Gilmore turned and took a shot at him and it hit the top of the window frame. He then started for the West door and was going to shoot the CO Capt. Fisk. When he got to the door he threw the M14 into the bushes and just surrendered. When I talked to him an hour later I asked him why he shot Young and he said “I don’t know.” Gilmore was black and Young was white. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or not. I think Gilmore was upset that Young had gotten promoted so fast, but that‘s a guess as well.“
Adding other possibly related information from Jim Chorazy:
Unless there were two similar shootings I’m wondering if Dick means the shooting occurred in front of HHC 1-48 INF. I may have events confused, but it seemed like it happened on a weekend morning. I recall the pool of blood almost in front of the Orderly Room. The rumor had it that the two had gotten into an argument over a German woman, but of course the source of such rumors was usually the guy with the best imagination.
Adding other information provided by John Levine:
I served at Coleman Kaserne in 1964 and 1965 and I was witness to Sergeant Young’s murder. His name was Young, not Youngs, and as I recall the whole battalion had just loaded our tanks on flat cars to go to Graf. It was fall, October or November I think, but I’m not sure. I was in Bravo Company and SGT Young was in Alpha Company. Also serving in Alpha Company was John Rogers, the son of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans who died in a hazing incident where he was coerced into drinking over 4 Zombies; a combination of many shots of bar liquor. He was taken up the hill to the infirmary outside the gate and left to sleep it off. When they came to check on him in the morning he had aspirated and he was dead. In my opinion, he was left to die and killed by neglect and he should be listed among the Cold War dead.
Adding other information provided by John Follis:
I was stationed with HHC, 1st Bn. 33d Armor from Jan 1964 to Jul 1966. I remember the death of SGT Young and also PVT John Rogers very well. As John Levine from B Co. already stated in his letter, PVT John Rogers was the son of Roy Rogers & Dale Evens. For about 6 months I was the Battalion mail clerk and got a chance to talk to just about everybody at one time or another when they picked up their mail. So I knew SGT Young as well as the man that shot him, SGT Gilmore. Later I became the Battalion Courts & Boards Clerk and I had to process the paper work concerning both of these deaths. So I remember them very well. What I remember most about John Rogers was that he reminded me of Forrest Gump. He was a rather simple but very likeable person. They nicknamed him Trigger. Not to make fun of him, but because it was the name of his father’s famous horse. I think he liked his nickname. I agree with John Levine. I think John Rogers should be listed among the Cold War Dead. I’m sure his parents would have liked that. I know he didn’t die a hero in combat, but he was doing something very important. He was an American Soldier.
Adding other information provided by Patrick Conley:
I was there when Gilmore shot Sgt Young. I was a cook on the grill that morning frying eggs. We were going to the field that day. Gilmore came behind the serving line to get the keys for his APC to get ammo from his basic load to kill Young. The KP I had breaking eggs for me was in his squad and had the keys.
I told Gilmore he was not supposed to be behind serving line and he said ” I’m back here ain’t I”. I would have kept my mouth shut if I knew what he was about to do. Soon we all heard the shots. It happened in front of the barracks of HHC 33rd Armor and the Mess Hall in front of the pond. An officer drew his 45 and told Gilmore to drop his weapon. We went over to look at Sgt Young. He was face down and his back looked riddled with bullets. After they picked him up, we could see bullet holes in the pavement where Gilmore had shot him in the back several times while on the pavement. I knew the medic who prepared his body to ship home. No one ever questioned us about this. What ever happened to Gilmore?
In 1965-1966, SFC Kallal was killed in a one vehicle accident on the road between Grossen-Linden and Kirch-Goens when he swerved to miss some kind of animal. He was either on his way home from Ayers or coming to Ayers, I don’t remember. Provided by Al W. Benton, HHC 2/36 INF.
SP5 COOKSIE of HHC 23rd Engineer Battalion SP5 Cooksie was a heavy equipment operator and was killed while driving a 5 ton tractor with a flatbed trailer hauling earth moving equipment when the brakes went out on the trailer and died when his truck crashed. If you know the date or have any additional information please let us know.
PFC Castro was shot and killed while on guard duty around 1966. He was in C Company of the 1st Battalion 32d Armor. The soldier who shot PVC Castro was from the same unit. Corrections and update to this information was provided by Ronald Whitney who tells us that he was also on guard duty when this incident occurred. Anyone with additional information, please let us know.
Unidentified Soldier This account is from Robert LaPorte who served in B Co 2-48 INF. I was in Gelnhausen from March ’66 to October ’68. On one trip to either Hohenfels or Graf with personnel carriers on the train, someone got out of the train and stood on top of his PC to take a photo. He was instantly electrocuted because he was too close to the overhead (60,000 volt?) electric power line that ran the train. I did not see it happen, but did see the weld marks from the nails in his boots on top of the PC. Of course this held up the train for several hours before we proceeded to camp. Must have been very sad news for the young man’s parents.
PVT Barry Fox was in the 3d Armored Division (I don’t remember the unit) at Coleman Kaserne in Gelnhausen in the spring of 1966 (possibly 65) and was up for a “European Discharge” which had been his goal for over a year. He was not a “crack soldier” to say the least (spent his free time on base at the USO Lounge reading books) but he respected the US Army and it’s role in defending the free world, and was having trouble remaining in good standing so that he could be granted this European Discharge. This was mainly due to his long history of returning late from weekend passes which he used to visit German girls in Frankfurt … but also just to immerse himself in the German culture which he loved. He always took the train to Frankfurt and would return the same way. As his discharge became imminent , his commanding officer informed Barry that if he was late one more time, he would receive another article 15 which would automatically make him ineligible for a European discharge. Barry headed into Frankfurt that Friday telling me that he would make sure to make the last Sunday train out of Frankfurt that was scheduled to stop at Gelnhausen. That following Monday we heard that a soldier from our division had been killed as he attempted to jump off the Berlin Express, a late night train that went through Gelnhausen before curfew but did not stop. We later found out that it was Barry … that he had hit some kind of utility pole as tried to negotiate a jump from a fast moving train. Barry was a smart man and a kind soul. I never heard him say a bad thing about anybody. I’m sure those that loved him, still miss him a lot. I know I do. Information provided by George M Snodgrass of the 1st Battalion 48th Infantry, May, 1964 to-December 1966.
PFC Bukowski of Company B, 503rd S&T PFC Bukowski was killed in a 5 ton Wrecker accident while on a training mission.
From James Littleton: I know of a soldier who was killed in 1966 or 1967. We had just returned from the field and he was new and got run over by a M-109 in the motor pool. He was in 2/6 Arty C Battery at Gelnhausen. Don’t remember his name as he was new to unit. Sorry I can’t remember more info but it was a long time ago. Note from Daryl W. Gordon: I believe this incident occurred in 1967 prior to my arrival in December of that year. The investigation of the incident was actually still going on and I was aware of it since I was attached to the S-1 at Battalion Headquarters.
SP4 Salyers of A Company 3rd Battalion 36th Infantry, a soldier from the 3rd Platoon was run over when he fell down while ground guiding an M113. This accident occurred on post in Kirch-Goens at the intersection of the PX parking lot & the dentist office in March of 1968. Don Wilkins helped us update this information on May 11, 2006. Wilkins was assigned to mortar platoon 106 section and was at the back door to the company when the 3rd Platoon was passing by to the motor pool returning from a seven day training exercise. He states that he heard a loud scream from the street and when he turned towards it, he saw SP4 Salyers under the driver side track. Medical assistance was sought from the dentist office and aid was rendered by those close by. Don thinks that it was the platoon sergeant that was driving the vehicle and the grief and shock of the incident was felt by all.
SP4 Frank Truschone. HHC & A Company 2nd Battalion 32 Armor, was in the Mortar Platoon of HHC 2/32 Armor and was transferred to A 2/32 to assist with the MTA exercise at Graf. SP4 Frank Truschone was crushed by the main gun breach block while serving as the gunner on A-14 during the winter of 1968. This is from 1LT F.J. Haas: I was platoon leader in Company C, 2/32, when Frank was killed. He leaned across the main gun breach block, trying to clear the machine gun which had jammed. He depressed the main gun by accident and was crushed between the breach block and the turret ceiling. It was not a pretty sight.
(We need the names) 2nd Battalion 36th Infantry, During hand grenade live fire training SGT (Name unknown) & PV2 (Name unknown) were both killed when the hand grenade they were throwing exploded inside the throwing pit. Where was this training taking place?
2LT Winters of 1st Plt, C Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 12th CAV, was killed in a car crash on the outskirts of Budingen, when his car hit a tree. Info provided by Larry Brown.
SP4 Wakefield of HHQ Plt, C Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 12th CAV, was killed when the jeep he was riding in rolled over in a one vehicle accident at Graf. Info provided by Larry Brown.
Unknown Soldier of Company E, 23d Engineer Battalion climbed on top of a vehicle on the autobahn to tie down something that was flapping in the wind. He was killed when the vehicle passed under a bridge and he struck the bridge. Info provided by Bruce Carswell.
SGT Bounds of 1st Battalion 36th Infantry, SGT Bounds was riding on top of a M-113 during a training exercise when the vehicle rolled over and he was crushed.
(We need the name) 503d S&T BN (We need the name) was killed when his 5000 gallon tanker over on a tank trail and he couldn’t get him out it of the because he was pinned to a bank by the drivers door and windshield. He drowned in the diesel fuel pouring from the tanker truck.
SGT Mathews Scout Platoon, Combat Support Company 3rd Battalion 32nd Armor, was ground guiding a Track Recovery Vehicle (TRV) when SGT Mathews was pinned between the TRV & the wash rack wall. SGT Mathews was helping retrieve ‘busted up’ dune buggies on the recently opened race track that had been built by the engineers
PFC Guzman was killed in Frankfurt in a motorcycle accident. He was from Guam, but his unit is unknown. Exact details are not known, so anyone with additional info, let us know. Year is also uncertain. This info was provided by Paul Pipik who served in the 3AD from 1971 to 1974.
There was a soldier in one of the 48’s at Gelnhausen who committed suicide by jumping from a barracks window-don’t know name or year. This info was provided by Paul Pipik who served in the 3AD from 1971 to 1974.
We had another suicide at Edwards Kaserne, again don’t remember the name or unit. He was a chaplains asst who hung himself in the loft above the chapel which was located in one of the old horse stables. He had drug problems and had been reassigned, I think from 143 Signal. This info was provided by Paul Pipik who served in the 3AD from 1971 to 1974.
During the same time frame, I also seem to recall an NCO who died in a fire while working on the electrical system of an M60 turret in one of the 32’s, but this is very vague. This info was provided by Paul Pipik who served in the 3AD from 1971 to 1974.
(We Need A First Name) James 503rd S&T Accident (1971) I was in Hohenfels when and where this accident occurred. I don’t remember the first name of this man, but his last name was James. We were assigned to the 3rd Armored Division, 3/32 Headquarters Company in Friedberg, Ray Barracks. We were on a 2 week training exercise at the time of the accident. He was a good man. Sorry to have lost him. Tom Kinne
(Name unknown) 3rd Squadron 12th Cavalry (Name unknown) was shot in the neck with a 45 and died. One soldier walked up to the other while pulling guard duty, surprised the soldier, and he was shot. We have this additional information from Patrick Ballback: I WAS ON GUARD DUTY THE NIGHT THE SOLDIER WAS KILLED. IT WAS IN THE AMMO DUMP JUST OUTSIDE THE POST. THERE WERE THREE GUARDS , FRONT GATE , BACK GATE & ROVER. I DO NOT REMEMBER THE GUY‘S NAME THAT WAS KILLED. I THINK HE WAS FROM C TROOP. THE SHOOTER WAS FROM B TROOP. THEY CALLED HIM MOUSE (NICKNAME) I WAS ON THE BACK GATE , IT WAS GETTING CLOSE FOR US TO BE RELIEVED. MOUSE CAME BY MY STATION. I WAVED, HE WENT ON UP TO THE FRONT GATE. THATS WHEN I HEARD A SHOT. THE GUARD HID ON HIM & WHEN MOUSE SHOWED, UP HE JUMPED OUT FROM THE SHACK & MOUSE SHOT HIM. SOME TIME AFTER I SAW HIM FROM THE BACK GATE. HE PULLED SLIDE ON 45. HE THEN TOOK CLIP FROM THE GUARD, PUT HIS IN THE WEAPON & SHOT THROUGH OUTSIDE THE FENCE TO MAKE THEM THINK HE WAS SHOT FROMTHE OUTSIDE. THE POST WENT ON FULL ALERT. AFTER BEING QUESTIONED BY MPS, HE CONFESSED, TO THE SHOOTING. HE WAS HOPPED UP ON DOPE . HE GOT LIFE AT LEAVENWORTH. THIS HAPPEND IN DECEMBER 1972 . I WAS THERE MARCH 1972 TO AUGUST 1974. Here is additional information on this incident from Don Snyder: I was stationed at Buedingen‘s Armstrong Kaserne from March 1972 to October 1973. If this is the same shooting I remember, the soldier killed was nicknamed “Spaceman“. Maybe that would jog someone‘s memory as to his real name.
Unknown Soldier (let us know if you know the name) died in the shower where an attempt was made to revive him from a drug overdose.
LTC Bloomquist was killed during the Bader-Meinhoff attack on the IG Farben Building in May, 1972. He was commander of the 45 Medical Battalion in 1970 and 1971. This information provided by Ted Miller
Ray Ormond provided this information about two tankers (unknown) that burned to death in their tank in the motor pool at Hohenfels during the summer of 1972. They were assigned to A Co, 3/33 Armor (Pickles) from Ayers Kaserne (The Rock). Anyone that can provide names of the deceased or more detail about the incident, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I was leading the Scout Platoon of HHC/CSC 3/33 Armor into the motor pool after a day of maneuvering, when everyone came running out. There was a M-60A1 tank inside the motor pool that was on fire with a full basic load. We buttoned up and waited at 100 meters, not knowing the two soldiers were still inside the tank. Later I saw a turret mechanic, SPC-5 Gagne, go up on top and pull a man out of the tank. The injured soldier had lost a foot. The two men had been trying to install a sound system (car 8-track) on the intercom when a live wire was dropped on two 105MM rounds that were lying on the turret floor because of unserviceable racks. The detonated round killed one soldier and wounded the other, however the second soldier died within 24 hours. SPC Gagne received the Soldiers Medal for his heroics.
Info provided by Mitch Hill. Kirkstetter (I don’t remember his first name or rank ) was pulling guard duty at the PX, which was right behind Brigade HQ, on The Rock, sometime in “73 or “74, when he was brutally beaten and stabbed to death. I’d like to mention that there was an officer on the scene trying his best to keep Kirk alive until help arrived. Unfortunately, he died at the scene, despite this officer‘s best efforts. I don’t know who he was, or where he came from, but it would be great if he were recognized for what he tried to do. How do i know these things? Because i was on my way to relieve Kirk, and i saw what transpired immediately after these cowards killed him. I will never forget the look on that young man’s face as he lay there dying, staring blankly up at the stars. Or the officer giving him chest compressions and yelling, ” breathe son, breathe for me! ” I guess the only good to come from this, is that after Kirk’s death, the brass finally saw the futility in carrying around an empty M-16 and began issuing ammo to anyone pulling guard duty. If you are aware of the murder of a soldier by the name of Kirkstetter at Ayers Kaserne ( The Rock ) in ’73 or ’74, please send us an email to update this entry.
Info provided by Thorsten Kruger. On October 13, 1973 during Reforger Certain Charge a Phantom (jet) hit an M113 while doing an extemely low pass. Two soldiers were wounded and fourwere killed! Killed were two M113 crew members from 3d Armored Division and the two pilots. A total of 7 soldiers were killed during Certain Charge. Anyone with further information, please let us know, particularly if you can identify the 3AD soldiers or their unit.
Bobby Shelton Around November 1973, the 3rd/61st ADA went to Todendorf on the Baltic Sea for our annual weapons practice (Vulcan M61s). We stayed in these barracks that weren’t much more than Quonset huts, that were heated with kerosene heaters that had smokestacks that vented the exhaust outside. There was a new guy in our Battery (Bravo Battery) named Bobby Shelton, the nicest guy you ever met. Because it was bitterly cold we let him have the bunk closest to the heater. The heater vent had a leak and Shelton was dead of carbon monoxide poisoning the next morning. The guy in the next bunk, Bigun Smith, ( his nickname because he was a BIG fella) also was very sick from it. The weird thing was, Shelton had foreseen his death. He was very matter of fact about it and knew he was not going to make it back home alive. Of course we laughed it off and said everybody worries about not making it back, but he was right. He was only in Germany about 2 weeks. PFC Curt Hotzinger 3rd Platoon, Bravo Battery 3rd of the 61st Air Defense Artillery Armstrong Kaserne, Budingen W. Germany 1/1972 -8/1974
SP4 Jessup of HHC 3rd Battalion 33rd Armor had just reenlisted for 6 years and received a large reenlistment bonus. SP4 Jessup purchased a motorcycle with his bonus money. He was taking a ride down through Kirchgoens one day and did not make the “Z” turn in the middle of town. According to the Polizi and CID he burned to death under the big bike. Also it was found that his brake cable had been cut with a hacksaw. This incident occurred sometime between 1974 and 1977. Information provided by then SP4 Bruce Culver. He has a book titled “Freeze Maggot” available on amazon.com.
SP4 Keith Sutherland, HHB 1st Battalion 40th Field Artillery, was riding in the back of a gammagoat when the vehicle rolled over and crushed him in July of 1975.
(We need the name) 3rd Battalion 36th Infantry, (Name) was killed by another soldier during an exchange of post guard shifts. The incident involved the one troop shooting the other in the head with an ‘unloaded’ .45. He pointed the weapon at the other troop and said ‘bang’ while pulling the trigger, the weapon was loaded and the soldier was killed. This incident occurred sometime between 1975 and 1978.
Possibly the same incident received from James Mark McGehee
I was legal clerk in 2/36 when the soldier was shot by a fellow guard at Ayers Kaserne. The year was 76 or 77 and the victims unit was from 2/36. The soldier was left back from a field exercise to process him for discharge. I was the one who told his commander not to take him to the field so I could process his discharge. He was guarding the motor pool and armed with a baseball bat. The other guard was armed with a 45 because he was to guard the PX and bank.
PFC Thomas Leroy West lost his life in a car accident in the summer of 1975 not too far from Fliegerhorst Kaserne. This information is from Walter Zemotel who was with F Co, 122 Maintenance Battalion from 1974 to 1976. PFC West was driving around with two other members of that unit when he crossed the center line and met with on coming traffic.
This account is from Kevin E. O’Brien. I served with 1/33 3AD on Coleman Kaserne between 1975 and 1978. I remember two soldiers who died as the result of drowning in the fire pond that was located between our old buildings in the middle of the base. As I remember it, B Co (my outfit) handed out promotions at the morning formation. It was the habit of our battalion to throw those who received a promotion into the fire pond. A Co and C Co did their promotions at the noon formation. A Co was on our left as we faced the pond. C Co was to our right as we faced the pond. Because A Co was on the left, that gave them the deep end of the pond and the location of the pond outlet. A melee of tossing broke out and numerous solders from A Co and C Co were tossed into the deep part of the pond near the outlet. What started out as fun quickly turned tragic. The upshot was that two soldiers drowned (held under by the outlet). From that moment forward our officers became overly cautious and would overreact any time a work detail or soldier came close to the pond.
More information on this incident is provided by Charles McKellar. This account is essentially correct and the two soldiers were named SGT Miranda (the one promoted) and SPC Sullivan (One of the first to jump in to help Sgt. Miranda). The really tragic part of the incident was that when Miranda was promoted to SPC while in CSC he told others he couldn’t swim so they took precautions to insure his safety but when he told members of A Co no precautions were taken. And as he floundered, SPC Sullivan jumped into the pond and was dragged under by Miranda. Others then jumped into the pond but were unable to help either Miranda or Sullivan.
(SP4 ______ & SGT_______ we need the names) HHC 3rd Battalion 32 Armor. An ammunition transport Gore overturned in the Freidberg Training Area possible killing the driver (SP4________ & SGT_______) The Gore driver was from HHC Support Platoon & assistant driver was from C Company. If you have any information please let us know. Additional information on this event from Richard Zipse: As I remember the event involving the ammunition Gore, I would confirm that both the driver and TC were killed. While I am not certain of the driver’s name I am relatively certain that the TC’s name was Sgt. Turnball (spelling could be off).
(We need name) 3rd Battalion 32 Armor A soldier was electrocuted by a railroad power line.
Apparently when the train on the way to Grafenwohr was stopped (???? Name) climbed on top of his tank to check something and somehow came in contact with the power line. We have additional information indicating that this soldier was married to a German girl named Corinna living in Bad Nauheim. And here is something else on this incident from Doug Hall: I was there when this one happened, but I don’t know who the soldier was. There was one more casualty that is not listed. A soldier was guiding a tank in the wash rack when the tank turned and crushed the soldier against the wash rack barrier and he died. I think that was in 77 or 78.
SGT Ira Lee Golston, Jr. and PFC Cleveland Stewart of the B Company 2d Battalion 36th Infantry, First Brigade, Kirch Goens were killed when their armored personnel carrier overturned while travelling west on the Bad Hersfeld-Alsfeld autobahn, about 8.5 miles northeast of Alsfeld. Three other soldiers in the vehicle were treated for minor injuries and released.
SGT Donald J. Kuykendall of B Battery, 3d Battalion 61st Air Defense Artillery, Budingen died of injuries he received when the Chapparall carrier in which he was riding overturned in a ditch near Budingen. Two other soldiers in the vehicle were admitted to the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt and one other soldier was treated and released.
SGT James E. Snow of 2d Battalion 32d Armor was killed during a training exercise at the Seventh Army Training Center on June 14. He and two other Sergeants were in the fourth class of the Basic NCO course that was part of the Combined Arms School when a high explosive round went off in the tube of an 81mm mortar. The other two were seriously injured and we have no further information on them. The three NCOs had fired one mortar round and were firing the second round to settle the base plate of the weapon when the round exploded in the tube.
Adding other information on this incident provided by Tim Mensing:
My name is Timothy L. Mensing. I served with the 3rd AD, Mortar Platoon CSC 2nd Battalion 36th Infantry from April 1977-June 1978 when I was honorably discharged. My rank was SGT E-5. I was with SGT Snow that day when he was killed on the mortar range in West Germany. I was the 4th member on the gun crew (typical # in a crew is 4). There were four of us, not three as stated in the article. I was the only one in our crew who wasn’t injured that day. One of the other Sergeants who was seriously injured was a SGT Preebe. I believe he was stationed in an airborne unit in Italy (502nd I believe). I was seated on the ammo boxes writing down the information from the FDC and giving them to SGT Snow, Preebe and one other Sergeant who were on the gun dropping the rounds and adjusting the sight. I remember that after the 2nd round was dropped a huge blinding brilliant flash and then I saw SGT Snow and Preebe went flying through the air. I first thought they were just playing like real John Wayne types. Everything was in slow motion with dirt and rocks flying everywhere. After everything came back to reality I just looked at SGT Snow and knew he was gone. SGT Preebe was just screaming and squirming on the ground. The school officers called in a dust-off helicopter for SGT Preebe and the other Sergeant.I never saw the other two surviving Sergeants again. I was later told SGT Preebe was paralyzed on his left side which would make sense as that was the side he had facing towards the gun. After the accident I realized I was sprayed with their flesh. I hope this will help with bringing more clarity of what happen that day and to honor SGT Snow, Preebe and the other Sergeant who was injured.After we graduated I was held over for several days for an investigation. I was informed several months later a defective mortar round was to blame. We never dropped any of the boxes while loading or unloading them. Even to this very day I still wonder what my life would be like had I had been first on the gun tube instead of being 10 feet away writing gun information sitting on the “ammo” boxes! The very boxes which we had taken the faulty mortar round from. The very boxes which had shrapnel in them from the explosion of the round.The rest of your information on the accident is correct.
Thank you, Tim Mensing
Military Policeman Fisher ? From a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous: I was with the 503 MP Company, in both Ayers and Schloss Kasernes. When I got in country in Nov ’77 I was to take the place of a fellow who was to DEROS before Christmas. He was married, and I think had a kid. The night I got in to the unit, he and another fellow were on patrol, when their vehicle hit black ice and went off an embankment. Fisher died….. they called me in the next day, and gave me his webbing and fiberglass MP helmet. They waived the ten day orientation that I would have gotten in country, and instead put me on patrol that night wearing his gear. There was blood on the inside of the helmet liner. I can’t believe I left that helmet liner there. I made myself a new one pretty quickly, sanding one down, painting and getting the decals. We made our own. But I always kept his helmet liner in my closet. But I didn’t want to get caught ‘stealing it’ in my luggage, so I handed it on to someone else. When I think of him, I think of his weeping wife, a pretty blonde gal who gave us a little talking-to before she went back stateside.
Larry Rutledge of B Company 3rd Battalion 32 Armor. Larry, a soldier from B Company was killed during training at Grafenwohr when he attempted to climb out of the driver‘s station of an M60A1 tank when the turret of the tank traversed and crushed the soldier getting out of the drivers position. Additional information on this event from Richard Zipse: The 1978 event that led to the death of Larry Rutledge happened at Gunnery and occurred on a vehicle which had been redlined. I don’t think it was his vehicle either though I again am not certain.
First Sergeant E7 ? Information provided by Stephen Lucero: During my time serving in Service Battery 2/3 FA in Butzbach Service Battery my First Sergeant was an E7 and I cannot recall his name. He passed away from a heart attack. They said he went to the infirmary in the morning with chest pains and they sent him to work saying it was heartburn or upset stomach anyway. Sometime during that morning I was walking in the barracks when he saw me and he yelled some expletives at me and told me to get to the motorpool with the rest of the battery. Then when we were in line to eat lunch they told us that he passed away so for awhile after that I felt guilty because I’m sure it didn’t help him to have to yell at me. He had a German wife. This was either in 1978 or 1979.
Unnamed Soldier (let us know if you know the name) was shot by someone with a 45cal pistol in the B Company, 2nd Battalion, 33rd Armor motor pool in February 1978. Evidently an accidental shooting. Information provided by James Wagner who was this man’s replacement.
SGT Jerry Good was killed in a vehicle accident on Autobahn 45 when his jeep was struck by another vehicle. Information provided by James Wagner.
Jesse James was a young man that I served with at Ayers Kaserne (The Rock) in 1978 or 1979. He worked in Transportation for the 2/32 Armor Battalion. He was a very good and conscientious driver. On this particular day he was driving a recovery vehicle down a dirt road at Grafenwöhr. This vehicle was called a Gor I believe. It had hydraulic steering, an enormous carrying space in the body of the vehicle, and huge balloon tires that made the vehicle seem to “bounce” down the road at times when conditions were right. Unfortunately, Jesse lost control of the vehicle and it rolled and my friend lost his life in this accident. He was a top shelf kind of guy, a good soldier, and had just returned from being married to his high school sweetheart if memory serves me correctly. It was a tragedy and a sad day for us in the 2/32 Armor Battalion. Information provided by Brice Hitchcock.
1SG William Gray of C Company 2nd Battalion 33rd Armor, was killed while the company was at Freidberg Training Area – his jeep was hit by a German vehicle while at an autobahn exit atnight in 1979 or 1980.
SP4 Gregory “Frank” Montoya & SP4 Patrick Romero, A Company 3rd Battalion 32 Armor. were killed on 4 November 1980 at the Hohenfels rail head when (name deleted) climbed into a tank during rail loading, loaded the M60A3 main gun with an armor piercing round (Sabot) & fired the main gun into the tank behind his. All tanks are rail loaded with the main gun in a travel lock position over the back deck. There was apparently a lot of confusion about the whole incident with reports of a lighting strike causing rounds to explode. The incident was finally solved when the tank main gun rounds were counted & inventoried. SGT Jeffrey Young & PVT David Park were also badly burned during this incident. *****The SOB convicted of this murder was sentenced to 20 yrs in Leavenworth but only served 8 years!!
Additional information provided by CPT Mark S. Atwood: The 1980 incident in 3/32, when the sabot round was fired into the turret of another tank during movement by rail, it is my understanding there was bad blood between the shooter and some/all members of the other crew over a card game. During rail movements the troops played cards, D and D, etc to pass the time. The shooter had been the big loser and I believe, thought he had been cheated. Here is additional information on this incident from Ken Armstrong: I served with 3/32 in 1979-1981 and was stationed in Freidburg at Ray Barracks. I also served with Greg Montoya and Pat Romero and was present when they were killed in November of 1980. Pat was a good friend and we drank many a beer together. Additional information on this event from Richard Zipse: I didn’t know Pat Romero but Frank was not only a great guy but getting very short. It was sad indeed that the filthy **** that killed him got out of Germany, much less Leavenworth, alive. As I remember it, he had been chasing a section 8 for months. I’m pretty sure Sgt. Young and I were on 14 together for a bit before he made rank and moved over to the third platoon; and, also that Park was very new to the unit and had just arrived as they needed crewmen. I’m thinking SSGT Able got him out of the smoked vehicle but not certain…also I’m thinking he was flown to Walter Reed Hospital due to the extent of his burns and later passed on….though this obviously may be incorrect.
SGT Jose A Company 2nd Battalion 32 Armor. SGT Jose died while ground guiding a tank in the motorpool. SGT Jose was moving his tank in position to jump start another tank when he was run over in 1980 or 1981.
SGT (Unknown name) I was in 3/33 Armor from 1979 – 1981 (HHC and B Co). I remember a SGT (can’t recall the name/I think he was in CSC) was driving or riding in a jeep at the rear of a convoy and was basically run over/rear ended by a German 18 wheeler after the truck came around a turn too fast. After that we had policy to drive deuce and a halfs at the rear of our convoys. I was there Dec 3 1979 – April 26 1981 and can’t remember when he was killed, but it was while I was there. Sorry I don’t have more information. Steve Vaughn
SP4 Keith A. Scruggs of 3/61 ADA was killed when he hit a tree head-on in his POV. Hal Johnson, who provided this information attended a 2d Brigade Leadership Course with SP4 Scruggs and says he was a good soldier and a good friend. His battery had just returned from Crete and he had checked in with his wife, Karen, who worked at the NCO Club. He was going to take a friend to his house in Buedingen to change clothes and return to the club when the accident occurred.
SSG Joseph This information was provided by Jose A. Buentello: While I was stationed at Ayers Kaserne during my first tour in Germany, I met and worked with another young Staff Sergeant named SSG Joseph. Sergeant Joseph was an excellent NCO with a wife and two young kids. I learned of his death after I left the unit and I believe this happened in January of 1981. He was a professional who made a mistake that took his life. It was standard SOP that when jumping off two tanks, you did not stand between two vehicles, this was the mistake he supposedly made. As I said before he was a professional and he loved his service to his country.
This information was provided by SP4 Larry Black, 3d Platoon, A Co 2/32AR and he indicates that he was in the motor pool when the above accident happened. He states that the soldier’s name was Hector, not Joseph. It does appear to be the same incident, but we are posting both accounts.
SSG Hector His tank was being worked on and the pack was out on the ground. A private from my platoon was in the driver’s seat of the tank across from the SGG Hector‘s keeping warm. It was cold and there was ice was on the ground. SSG Hector was between the two tanks connecting slave cables when the private’s foot slipped off the brake and his tank moved forward pinningSSG Hector between the two tanks. He died within about 15 seconds. SSG Hector’s wife was Korean and he had two boys. 1SG Dobinson (sp?) accompanied them back to the States for SSG Hector’s burial. When Top came back to Germany after the funeral, he told us that SSG Hector‘s family was very angry at him and blamed him for the death. They then told SSG Hector’s wife to get out and take the “half–breed kids“ with her. That was all Top could take and he told the family off. He told them that he would take care of SSG Hector‘s wife and sons and he would take a personal interest in hurting anyone who tried to harm them. He took her to the nearest Army post and helped get her and kids into housing, and in contact with people who would later help her get into a permanent house when she got settled. Also, he helped get SSG Hector‘s benefits started so that she would have money. Top was gone a good month; he told us that if given the chance, you must stand by your fellow soldier even after he is gone.
In November 1981, SP4 Sheridan, A Co 2nd Bn 33d Armor committed suicide while playing Russian roulette at a friends off post apartment. I remember the incident very well because the individual was assigned to my platoon. Carl Goff 1SG USARETIRED
We Need More Information: This is provided by Ernie Perez. There was one other incident that happened back in 1981. I don’t recall where it happen but I believe it was at Hohenfels training area. We were just finishing up a battle run (I was assigned to C 3/32 AR 1st plt C15) and we were taking a break on a hill overlooking a small valley. I had notice down below a group of vehicles stopped in the middle of the road with some commotion going on. I observed this with my field glasses. I brought this to the attention of my TC Lt Winston, he ordered us to mount up and head down there to see what was going on. During our transit, a call came over the radio that medics were needed ASAP. When we got there, those who witness the accident were in shock and could not function properly, so our crew took over the incident. Apparently one of the tanks in my unit (3rd plt) was traveling in “tactical” formation where one tank has a gun tube pointed to the right and the tank behind it had theirs pointed to the left and so on. Well it appears that an APC from an unknown unit was travailing towards the on-coming column of tanks and the driver of the APC was driving with his head out of the driver’s hatch when he was strucked by the gun tube of the tank and was killed instantly. An army medivac helicopter flew in a German doctor to pronounce the death. The circumstance at that time were not clear as to how this happen. On thing is for certain, that when tanks are traveling in that type of formation, turret power is to remain on at all times so as to avoid accidental damage or to be able to quickly engage a target. This accident was very unfortunate and tragic. This is all the information I know to the best of my knowledge. You may feel free to post and hope that someone else can elaborate more on this incident.
(Name) Service Battery, 2nd Battalion 6th Field Artillery was killed while delivering fuel to OP Bleidorn at Grafenwoehr. The fuel goer he was driving overturned and killed him in November.
CPT Roger C. Laporte of 2nd Battalion 32nd Armor CPT Laport was a national guard officer serving as a company commander. He died after a morning PT run in October. He had gone home to shower and died of a massive heart attack in his bedroom. He was not very old and this updated information was provided by Marcy (Wilds) Walls on 3 Sep 06.
CPT Roger C. Laporte was the S-1 for 2-36 Infantry when he passed away. He was the rear detachment commander and I was part of the group he did PT with the morning he died. No one had a clue that he was even sick during PT. CPT Laporte signed my NCOER as senior rater on 24 January 1983 and I departed 3AD in May of 1984. According to his SSAN record, he died in March of 1983. He was one hell of an officer. This additional information was provided on 27 Feb 07 by Robert F. Booth SGM, USA Retired 2-36 Infantry 81/84.
SFC Hightower I believe it was spring ’83. I was acting BN CMDR for 3/32 AR at Ray Barracks (Rear Detachment OIC) during a training exercise. I received the word that SFC Hightowerhad been struck by a civilian vehicle while he was off-duty in Friedberg. Information provided by CPT Mark Atwood 3AD ’82-’87
PFC Johnson D Company 23rd Engineer Battalion was transporting an M109A1 Howitzer to Lahnstein, a small town on the Lahn River, south of Koblenz. This was for a static display to celebrate the town’s “Military Heritage Day” in the summer of 1984. The Truck had been dispatched with faulty air brakes on the trailer and a bad engine retarder. As the driver of the 5ton was coming down the steep grade into the outskirts of Lahnstein, the strain must have been too much and the air lines blew. Without an engine retarder, the truck simply gained momentum and gained speed coming down hill. The trailer bounced around and struck 2LT Chris Von Fahnesstock’s jeep, which was escorting the truck & trailer. Two German Army MP’s were injured. One MP had both his legs broken when the 5ton truck rammed his MP VW car and the other MP when he jumped from the same vehicle and hurt his arm or such. The Germans erected a monument on the spot honoring PFC Johnson.
Chaplain Curtiss Karlstad HHC 1st Brigade Chaplain Karlstad had a massive heart attack and died before he hit the ground. We have this additional information from his son, Rolf Karlstad:My Dad was Chaplain (CPT) Curtiss Karlstad. He was Assistant Brigade Chaplain and I believe Sam Sanford was the Brigade chaplain. Dad actually died on active duty on the day of the 1984 Family Fair, May 25th. My fun times as an Army brat ended then. I have some great memories of my time in Butzbach and sincerely wish they weren’t cut short! Perhaps someone might recall that the Gym was actually dedicated to my Dad (named Karlstad Gymnasium) a couple of years before the base closed. We were flown over for the very nice ceremony and I won’t ever forget that either.
Name. (Nickname Cabbage Patch) HHC 1st Brigade, A female soldier was murdered off post. Please forward any information concerning this soldiers death that occurred sometime between 1984 and 1987. More information from Rick Cushion: I can’t remember her name, but she worked in the mess hall. I remember her because she would make my eggs in the morning. I was in the 2/3 Artillery at Butzbach in June of 1984 before we started moving into our new billets at Ayers in the fall of that year. What I remember is that someone was jogging up the field behind the gasthaus just outside the front gate and found her there. Two weeks later a fellow soldier with dependents turned himself in for the killing. That is all I can remember. Then we have also received this information from MAJ John C. Ling and we believe it to be this same incident: While assigned as a Cavalry Scout to HHC of 3rd Battalion, 36th Infantry (The Bayonets), 1st Brigade of 3AD, I was acquainted with a female soldier from one of the support units at The Rock. She was an attractive single soldier who had her share of attention from the males. One of her admirers was a married soldier who convinced her to have sex with him in a field across from the main gate behind the Welcome Inn and The Shop of The Rock. As the rumor went, she laughed at his smallness when he dropped his pants, so he killed her with his knife. I don’t recall if this was in 1985 or 1986. I left in July of 1986. I regret that I do not remember any of the names of the people involved.
Here is what appears to be the definitive information on this incident from James Hudson:
I’m an attorney (currently mobilized as a JAG) but was stationed at the Rock during 1985-1987. I worked in the 2/36 mess hall (still have nightmares, worst job I’ve ever had and I’ve had some bad experiences). At some point we had a joint support mission and worked with some of the Brigade HQ cooks, one of whom was the “Cabbage Patch” murder victim you have listed on your cold war deaths page. I had never known a murder victim personally prior to her slaying, and my roommate was questioned (their relationship was a bit closer) so the event sort of stuck in my mind.
After 20+ years of wondering about the details and the outcome (given my profession) I decided to look up the case. I couldn’t remember either of the names and the courts didn’t mention Ayers or Kirchgoens so the case was a bit harder to find than one would imagine. The key to the puzzle was your entry mentioning the “Welcome Inn.” I’m pretty sure her last name was Burdette, orBurnette (ct. opinion lists it as PVT B. The perpetrator was PFC Edward Whitehead. I’ve included the appellate courts description of the crime below. I remember a rumor that her friends had figured out who was responsible and were planning to take matters into their own hands, so he turned himself in, while possible the information below suggests otherwise. Whitehead successfully appealed and received a second trial at which he was again convicted of murder. In the end he received a life sentence and as far as I know is still in Levenworth.
Here’s the court’s description: Early on the morning of 1 July 1986 the body of Private [PVT] B was discovered face down in a ditch along a side road not far from the kaserne where she was assigned. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear and she had been stabbed eleven times in the back of the neck and two times in the middle of her back. The shorts she wore had been cut away, leaving her essentially nude below the waist. The evidence showed that PVT B had spent the evening of 30 June with one Specialist [SPC] C and some other friends. Later that evening PVT B suggested that they stop at the Welcome Inn, a popular disco bar near the front gate of the kaserne. SPC C did not want to go but took PVT B there where he dropped her off shortly before midnight. PVT B was a regular at the bar and most of the patrons knew her. Appellant, who also knew her, was already at the bar when PVT B arrived. After she had been there for perhaps an hour, appellant engaged PVT B in conversation, during which he asked her to have sex with him. In his first statement to CID agents (see footnote 1, supra ), appellant stated that she refused to have sex with him so he went home. After indicating deception on his first polygraph examination, however, appellant stated that she did agree to have sex and because she did not want to be seen leaving the disco with him, he drove and she walked to the location where her body was ultimately found. There, they had sex on the hood of appellant’s car. Appellant further stated that when he last saw PVT B, she was alive and walking in the direction of the kaserne. Appellant’s estranged wife, however, testified at the rehearing that appellant came home very late that night, appeared nervous, had blood “all over” his clothes, and had in his possession a “camouflage” knife from which she saw him cleaning blood (Prosecution Exhibit, or PE 7). Mr. G, a former cellmate of appellant’s while in pretrial confinement, testified that “[appellant] told me that he killed someone by cutting them and then he had sex with … the same person that he killed.” A forensic pathologist called by the government testified that the nature of the throat wound would indicate that the wound was inflicted from behind, left to right, with “a fair amount of force,” and that following such a wound the victim would be conscious for only a few seconds. After being shown pictures of a large blood spatter near the middle of the road, he further opined that the spatter pattern was consistent with her throat having been cut at that location and that she could thereafter have retained consciousness long enough to have staggered to the side of the road before collapsing, after which the stab wounds to the back were possibly inflicted. The cause of death, however, was the throat wound.
The following is from MAJ E L (Gene) Bigelow, USAR, retired. He was in the 3–12 CAV at Armstrong Kaserne from Nov 1981 to Nov 1984. His last job with the 3–12 was Squadron S-1.
SSG Gum, Charlie Troop maintenance NCO was killed when his M-88 rolled over. If I remember correctly the 3/12 was on an ARTEP in the summer of 1984 when this death occurred.
PFC Drennen was hit by a train in Oct or Nov 1984 and was killed. His death was being investigated as a suicide as I was ending my tour and heading back to the states.
Further information from SFC (ret) Rod Linkous. I was a SSG in C Troop during this period, left in December of 85. The M-88 accident happened during gunnery. The maintenance SGT was towing an M-60 behind and was speeding. He was in the tc hatch and was dragged for a number of yards. The Squadron Commander, LtCol Muzzy was first on the scene and climbed in to help recover the injured and the body. He was quite a commander and the troops would do just about anything for him.
SP4 Luther Brothers, 3d Platoon, 503 Military Police Company. SP4 Brothers died from complications from a gunshot wound. SP4 Brothers was shot while on duty in January. Provided by Meg Sinclair SP4 4th Platoon 503d MP Co. Nov. 84- Feb 86. I am a 3AD 503d MP veteran who served in Frankfurt from Nov. 84 to Feb 86 and I was a good friend of SP4 Luther Brothers. He was shot, while on a guard post, by another MP. This was an “accidental” shooting and was ruled as such. I also was present during the bombing of the Frankfurt Main PX as well as Rhine Main AFB. I was supposed to be at the Frankfurt Main PX when it was blown up. The terrorist’s parked a vehicle behind the European Auto Sales building and detonated it, after walking away as ANY coward would do! I was going down there that day to finalize paper work on a 1986 883 Harley Davidson Sportster that I had put a down payment on and at the last moment my room mate, William (Bill) Pratt, decided that he wanted to go along but wanted to make an unscheduled stop. We made the stop and he wanted to go back to the barracks, briefly, to drop off the items that he stopped to pick up. When we were getting ready to leave the CQ (Charge of Quarters) came in and told us that we were to gear up and we were on alert because they had blown up the main px. Nobody died but several were severly injured and one of our off duty MP’s (John Moore) was there to help pull a young woman out of the rubble of the laundrymat. I think about that constantly and have always been extremely grateful that Bill Pratt came along and I would like to say to Bill, if you read this, “Thank you Bill, if it hadn’t been for you I wouldn’t be here today!” God Bless You Brother, wherever you may be! I also remember some minor details about the Rhine Main AFB bombing. I don’t remember the exact date but I knew one of the 709th MP’s that responded to the scene. She told me later that it was a horrible site, several people died and there were body parts scattered about. The news media reported (in the U.S.)that only a few people were injured and there were no fatalities. I am VERY proud to have served in the 3d AD and in the 503d MP Co. and would not change a thing but PLEASE make sure that this is posted as those that we lost deserve to be recognized. There was also an incident, also dates unknown, where a new MP (Kimberly Schultz) came in with her friend (Kim Lutz) and we were to take them out on the town to orientate them (Ordered by the 1st SGT) to the Frankfurt Train System. I was to go but something came up at the last minute and had to request that a friend, Robert Schultz, take my place.When they got outside of Frankfurt, the train system turned from automated to manual where you have to open the doors yourself and it was here that a fatal mistake was made. The train stopped and the wrong door was opened by one of the group and they started to exit on the wrong side (track side) of the train. The first person out realized his mistake and, seeing a train coming into the station at full speed, ran quickly to the other side of the tracks but did not have time to warn the others. The next person (Kim Lutz) got out and realized what was happening she dropped to the ground in between the two trains. Their train was stopped but the other train was moving through at full speed. It was then that Kimberly Schultz stepped out of the door right into the oncoming train and never knew what hit her, she was found approximately 500 yards down the tracks. The MP’s had to go approximately 2 train stops down to find Robert(Bob) Schultz where he was standing on the platform in shock. For anyone who thinks that we had it easy over there during the cold war, they are wrong! For anyone who thinks that we suffered no casualties while we were there, you are wrong! I think about each of these young soldiers, friends, comrades, brothers & sisters in arms every day and wish that things could have been different. THEY WILL BE MISSED!
In November, a car bomb exploded at the Frankfurt Main PX gas station. As many as 53 American soldiers, family members and civilians were injured. If you have any information about this terrorist attack please let us know.
SP4 Atwell, B Battery 2/27 Field Artillery was killed in a car accident, possibly in 1985. There were two other injured from the same unit (SP4 Lyons, and SP4 Kasowski). This information was provided by Darrell Whitley. Anyone else remembering this incident with further information is asked to provide it so that we can update this entry.
CW2 Dale ? In either 1985 or 1986 an AH-1S enroute back to Fliegerhorst (Hanau) from Grafenwohr crashed in the hills that separated the two locations. The pilot was a W2 whose first name was Dale while the soldier in the front seat was a young 3AD enlisted man (can anyone identify this soldier?). The pilot inadvertently fled into fog/clouds and was unable to transition to his instruments to recover. As a young W1, fresh out of Flightschool, it was my first experience with the dangers of my chosen profession. CW2 James Stinnett USA retired
The following is from MAJ E L (Gene) Bigelow, USAR, retired. He was in the 3–12 CAV at Armstrong Kaserne from Nov 1981 to Nov 1984. His last job with the 3–12 was Squadron S-1.
In 1985 a soldier was killed by a 50 Cal machine gun discharge on a tank range. I heard this information from friends still with the 3/12 while I was at the Infantry Officer Advanced Course. I do not know this soldiers name.
Further information from SFC (ret) Rod Linkous. I was a SSG in C Troop during this period, left in December of 85.The soldier in 1985 was shot by the coax machine gun. It was the platoon sergeant’s tank. The trooper was clearing the gun after a run downrange and slid the cleaning rod down the barrel while standing in front of the gun. The gun hadn’t been cleared and he took a 3 or 4 round burst to the chest. The platoon sergeant was relieved, of course. I want to say that this happened in early 86 since I heard about it at my next duty station.
1SG Prader B Company1st Battalion 48th Infantry 1SG Prader was riding in a 5-ton truck when the 5-ton truck started to list to one side, 1SG Praderthought the truck was going to roll over and he jumped out of the truck and was run over.
SGT Griffin. B Company 3rd Battalion 33rd Armor, SGT Griffin died when he was struck by a train in Frankfurt.
(Unknown Name) A 19 year old female MP took her life with a service 45 in front of others on the softball field on Drake Kaserne in 1986. This account is from Anthony J. Renner: I was in 3d Armored Division G-2 from Jan 1985 to Jan 1987. I know this is a harsh reality and a tough one to bring to light. It left a scar on my psyche and perhaps many others as well. I in–processed this young lady through personnel security in G-2. She was from the State of Indiana, I do not recall her name. A staff sergeant in my section and a HHC 3AD medic tried to revive her but to no avail. I don’t remember their names either. The medic’s nickname was Red due to his red hair and he drove a motorcycle, I believe. There were two other suicides that year that were attempted but not fatal. The stress from three bombings and other terrorist activities took their toll on morale of the HHC 3AD and other troops in the area as well I imagine. Here is additional information on this casualty from Jesse Sinclair: Her name was PFC Kimberly Lutz, she served in 6th platoon. I was an honorary pallbearer at her memorial service. She shot herself with a .38 revolver, not a 45. I was there that day and saw her draw her weapon. I know the reasons for her suicide and feel they were too personal to discuss in open forum. She was a troubled young lady who asked for help and never received it. Upon arrival in country she lost her best friend, Pvt Shultz, who died in front of her from a horrible train accident. Kim’s suicide was horrific and I will never forget that day or Kim.
This information was provided by Osbaldo Lujan who served in 2/3 Field Artillery from January 1986 to December 1987 as a light wheel mechanic: Two people died at Ayers Kserne during my stay there. One was a guy that fatally shot himself while on guard duty. To my understanding and what I heard he was depressed and wanted to go home but instead while on duty he walked into a portable latrine and shot himself. [This additional information was provided by James Myers, A CO, 5/33 Armor, ’85-’87: The
soldier’s name was John Haidett from California. When I first arrived in Aug ’85, John Haidett was one of my room-mates in the barracks and he became severely depressed. I believe a family member back home was ill or something like that, I’m not sure. After coming off guard duty at the northeast gate, John stopped in a porta-potty on the way back to the guard-shack and fatally shot himself in the head. As a result of the following IG’s investigation, the 1SG retired. The Captain was quickly gone as well, I don’t know if he resigned his commission or what – at any rate they were both gone within 30 days. Their replacements were 1SG Gaither and Captain Miranda, both outstanding men that did a LOT to restore the unit and its morale.]
The second person was a young female. She got to Ayers Kaserne late in the year and within two weeks or so was brutally murdered. They found her body in a field next to the pub outside the front gate with over 100 stab wounds. The guy that did this was from her unit and was later arrested. I don’t know how long he in spent in jail, but this happen a little after I got to my unit and he was still in jail by the time I left.
The following account was sent to us by John C. Birch Jr who was with the 1-36 Infantry. John cannot remember this Sergeant’s name and if anyone reading this account can furnish us with a name, we would be grateful.
At the time of the death of this soldier in 1986, I was a SP4 with A Co 1/36IN. Our assigned Platoon Sergeant had just returned from State side temporary assignment. He had just buried his wife and had returned to 1/36 to finish out his time before retiring. The morning of the event was looking to be a fairly nice day, I believe the latter part of March. The Battalion Commander had chosen A Co to go on his Spartan run. On this run I had stopped to take care of personal issues, we were in the sticks 🙂 The pack had passed and I was sprinting to catch up. I came upon thePlatoon Sergeant and I noticed he was not looking up to speed. I slowed and asked him if he was okay and he advised me that he was and to catch the rest and he would be along soon. True to his word he got to us as we were loading up on the trucks. The first thing he asked for when he climbed aboard was “does anybody got a smoke?” Somebody shook out a smoke.
While prepping for the day. I was in my room pulling on my top in preparation for formation. I was looking to the quad where A Co stood for formation and SFC (we need this soldier’s name) was talking to the other troops and he just hit the ground motionless. I ran out to the quad as SFC ??? was 4 point carried to the Battalion TMC where he was later pronounced dead.
The fall out from this event was tense for a while as our A Co soldiers were angry at what happened at the TMC. There was confusion, some accounts of inadequate care, plus the medication used was out dated. Meetings were held for all to understand what happened and what was being done to correct this type of incident from happening in the future. The conclusion was that SFC??? heart practically exploded. Just a plain fact of life!
Here is updated information from John Birch. His name is Rowsell, this spelling is the best I could come up with. I found more information from 3 other sources. CSM William Pyle, Sgt. T. Phillippi who investigated the death and my old PL who is now a Col. at Ft Lewis, Lt. Col. Tunnell III. CSM Pyle was involved with a pending medical board for SFC Rowsell because of his health/mental issues at hand and Sgt Phillippi was the MP who was involved with the investigation of his death (Rowsell) The medical facts for SFC Rowsell history I found out last year from CSM Pyle. Maybe now I can look at this as a situation that was beyond my control and not a fault on my part. I was very involved in this episode from the beginning and because of this involvement I was harassed by the black soldiers, with racial malice directed towards me. For many years I have kept facts within that “shoebox” in my mind. Sometimes the lid comes off and you relive that day of a bad event. The reopening of that shoebox came in my dreams. I have always felt I was responsible for his death and for 30 yrs. many facts were either hidden from the Soldiers or I forgot in my regret of that event. I was not pulled aside for counseling and told this is not your fault Troop. I do remember how I was reminded what right and obligation I had as a Soldier and responsibilities as the soldier who knew what symptoms SFC. Rowsell exhibited that morning. From that time on and when I promoted to leadership positions I was hyper vigilant about my soldiers health issues. That hyper vigilance paid off later in assisting soldiers in near death type incidents. For many years I thought I had left a soldier behind, but when you have a man with combat history and who could get away with telling Col.s how to get the job done without repercussions, what was a Spc.4 going to do? SFC Rowsell told me that morning that I needed to ” keep my mouth shut.” I learned rank does not matter when a soldier is in distress. But in my mind I left this Soldier behind and I may never change that stinking thinking. RIP SFC. Rowsell
SGT Milan, HHC 1st Battalion 36th Infantry SGT Milan died during a live fire training accident at Grafenwoehr. While the 1-36 Infantry mortar platoon was conducting mounted fire missions in their M-106’s during rainy overcast conditions. The platoon had several hang fire situations where the 4.2 mortar round would become lodged in the tube. As per the SOP for a hang fire situation a soldier was suppose to kick the side of the gun tube to dislodge the projectile to allow the projectile to fire. On this occasion when SGT Milam kicked the side of the gun tube to dislodge the projectile, the 4.2 mortar round exploded in the mortar tube. It was later determined that the mortar platoon had been provided faulty fuses for the mortar ammunition. SSG James Mcovich & SPC Noble are reported to have been injured from this accident that occurred in January.
Additional information on this incident from Bryan Landaw: On the day that SGT Milan was killed, I was about 200-300 meters away. You know how things get bigger as time goes by, but at the time it happened, we where told that several were killed instantly (5-7) and 1 died before medevac arrived and another enroute. The total we heard for the accident was 7-9 dead. I served with B Co. 2/36 Infantry from the “ROCK”. Hope this helps or gives leads to the whole story. I knew none of the men personally, but they were all my brothers and I love them dearly. They all deserve honor and respect.
Additional information on this incident from John Birch: I had the opportunity to be in a briefing about incidents leading up to this horrible accident. How I had the opportunity was on the day of this briefing I had previously won a bid for a fund raiser auction for 1-36. I got to be the battalion XO for the day and in those days you could be battalion XO for 30.00 US.
Before the briefing, I remember that day of the incident when it happened we (A Co) were on a range and the word trickled down what had occurred. There was a stand down and we returned to our billets and on the way to the billets we had to pass that range. The area of the incident was tarped and blocked from inquiring eyes. But you could see remnants of uniform (s) hanging from a tree above the site. Security was present also.
Later in the day our “gung ho” commander (CPT Cochran) came around with a Kevlar helmet showing us the stopping power of the Kevlar. Protruding from the helmet was a chunk of 4.2 mortar tube. The Kevlar did the job and saved SPC Noble‘s life. (I believe it was SPC Noble.) This display angered me as it was presented in a bragging manner; otherwise, I was grateful to see the equipment issued was worthy for our use.
The briefing of this incident was months later (March-April 1988) and it was an eye opener.
I remember the following from that briefing; HHC 1/36 Mortar Platoon was set up and the tubes were approximately 15 meters apart, and should have been set up 50 meters apart, SOP!. The Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant were on a “Brochen run” and had left Mcovich (sic?) in charge of the range. If I recall Mcovich had just been promoted to SSG. While the Platoon Leaderand Platoon Sergeant were not present, the range “went hot.” Rounds started going down range and then a “hangfire” occurred and this is where it really got bad. From the briefing and interviews from survivors a misfire was declared but no one followed the real way to proceed with this type of incident. SSG Mcovich walked to the tube and kicked the tube 2-3 times before the round “cooked off” resulting with most of his thigh on one leg to be mangled, a piece of the same 4.2 tube slammed into SPC Noble‘s Kevlar helmet. SPC Milan (I am sure it was Milan and notMilam) who was observing from a few meters away was caught with a large portion of the mortar tube, literally cutting him in half.” SSG Mcovich was airlifted to Walter Reed and I think SPCNoble was too.
These are some of the more important facts but from the investigation there were more mitigating circumstances. During the ensuing investigation it was discovered that the mortar rounds were of Korean era vintage. The explosive propellant (cheese charge) used was dated to the Viet Nam era and because the explosive charge was so old it became more powerful due to the chemical breakdown that produced nitro glycerin. So the amount of charge cut to propel the mortar round was excessive and unstable do to the nitro glycerin. These fact was weighed into the report for dissemination at the AAR briefing.
(Note: Based on this account, we have changed the soldier’s name to Milan, with an “n”)
SFC Franklin J. McCormick, D Company 1st Battalion 36th Infantry died during training when an accident occurred on July 10 at Hohenfels Training Area. SFC McCormick’s company was cross-attached with the 2nd Battalion 67th Armor and while conducting company level Situational Training Exercises (STX)SFC McCormick was run over by his M-113. He was survived by his wife Rosalinda & four children Franklin Jr., Seamus, Victoria and Joseph. This update was provided by SFC McCormick’s oldest son, Frank McCormick II : I just wanted to say hello and thanks for the story about SFC Frank McCormick, a Cold War veteran. I am his oldest child. We came across the story on a random search on the internet. None of us, including my mother, ever new all the details surrounding his death. If you have additional information I would greatly appreciate it. Also, Frank had another son. My mother was pregnant with him at the time of his death. His name is John. Frank II would like to hear from anyone who knew or has information about his father, so contact him if you do. Additional information provided by James Myers, A CO, 5/33 Armor, ’85-’87: My tank was one of the first on the scene after SFC McCormick was injured. He had gotten out of the rear door of his M-113 with his CVC helmet hooked into the vehicle intercom with a long extension, and was guiding the vehicle backwards up a trail into the woodline (bad idea). He slipped in the mud, and was backed over. I remember it took nearly an hour for the Medevac helicopters to arrive. I believe SFC McCormick died on the way to the hospital. We never got an answer as to why it took the Medevac so long to get there, and it has bothered me to this day.
PVT George, A Company, 5/33 Armor, committed suicide in ’87. In 1987, he was assigned to our Company straight out of Ft. Knox. His recruiter had promised him that in Armor he’d be working on computers (the ones in an Abrams???), as well as a host of other distortions and outright lies. Not only that, he wasn’t that mature and never should have been allowed to enlist, let alone be assigned overseas. Pvt. George just couldn’t deal with the basics of Army life, and made mistake after mistake, getting into trouble time after time. Finally, PVT George had been ordered to quarters by his TC because he had taken a can of paste wax from the CQ desk and wouldn’t return it, and the next night while on guard duty in the motor pool George shot himself in the chest while sitting in the passenger seat of 1SG’s jeep. This information provided by James Myers, A CO, 5/33 Armor, ’85-’87. PV2 Floyd Allen George, 2d Battalion 32d Armor, committed suicide in a jeep in an Ayers Kaserne motor pool while on guard duty. This additional info provided by MSG Robert Lego, who indicated this happened in 1991, but we believe it was actually 1987 as indicated by James Myers.
SP4 Peter Nelson III C.Co 4th Support Battalion SP4 Peter Nelson III was climbing a pole & accidentally touched a live electrical line and was electrocuted in March of 1988.
Bruce Hunter of HHT 4th Squadron 8th Cavalry It was a Spearhead Thursday, 3 March 1988 when soldiers were released from work duties at 15:30 to take care of personal business. Bruce Hunter was working on a detail unloading generators from a 2 1/2 ton truck. Bruce Hunter was pulling the generators off the back of the truck, his feet got caught in the webbing of the gate, he fell backwards off the truck and the generator fell on top of him. The medics were able to keep him alive until a Medevac helicopter arrived. Bruce Hunter died in flight to the hospital.
SSG Carlos Williams – Tank Commander, John Alexio-Gunner, (We need name of the loader) C Troop 4th Squadron 8th Cavalry were killed in a tank accident in August 1988 on Range 117 Grafenwoehr when one of the combustible cartridges for the 120 mm main gun tank rounds for the M1A1 exploded in the turret of the tank. The combustible cartridge was hit by the hot aft-cap from a round that was just fired. We have this additional information from Tom Kehoe: I was the 4/8 Cav Support Platoon Leader and Battalion Ammunition Officer when this incident occurred. I was on the range that night. The loader’s name is Private Braithwaite; however, you don’t need to list his name because he didn’t die in the fire/explosion. He told me that when he saw the round starting to ignite, he immediately climbed out of the turret and jumped off the tank. He was not hurt at all in the accident. I know this of my own observation and experience.
Robert Edward Moynihan, HHC 2nd Battalion 67th Armor, died when the M106A2 mortar track he was driving in the Freidberg Training Area slipped on a muddy road, rolled up an embankment and overturned on 19 October 1988. Here is an additional comment from John McMahon: In regards to Private Moynihan’s death, Sgt Queral, Moynihan’s section leader, suffered a deep laceration to the forehead from the locking mechanism on the TC hatch. Private Dick and Private Bailey suffered minor injuries. Here are additional comments from Ben Stickney, then a PFC:I was the Battalion Asst. S-3 driver, and was Sitting in the Battalion HQ when the call came in about the accident. As I had a Jeep out front I took the XO to the motor pool and escorted the 88 recovery vertical out to the location. I was good friends with a lot of the mortar platoon, but did not know PVT. Moynihan other then in passing. My comments are really about what I saw during the rescue and recovery operation. The platoon was a very tight team, and in this case they showed how they pulled together to try and save a member of their team. When we got there we saw the whole platoon digging with shovels, helmets, and hands. They were using everything they had to try and get the track off the driver. The medic on site got a pulse initially and it was hoped that he was simply knocked out and pinned by the vehicle. The 88 was unable to approach the track directly and had to back up and come down a ditch to get to it, and ended up crushing a German truck to get to the right spot, and was able to shift and recover Pvt. Moynihan. Sadly it appeared he attempted to duck down as it rolled, but was pinned and crushed along with his helmet.
PFC Ramirez, 2nd Battalion 36th Infantry, PFC Ramirez dropped dead during a winter morning PT run.
We Need Names There were three deaths in the 3/5 Cav based at Kirch-Gons (Ayers Kaserne) in late 1988. It happened while at Bradley Tank Gunnery at Vilseck. An M1A1 Abrams got mis-oriented and mistook the Bradley for a heated night target downrange. A main gun round struck the turret of the Bradley and basically melted it into slag. I do not know the names of the individuals as they were from another company. Information provided by Warren T. Griffin, who was the Bradley Master Gunner of B Co 3/5 Cav, 3 AD.
SPC Jerri J. Ehle Jr, HHT 3rd Squadron 8th Cavalry, died when he was hit by a train at the Gelnhausen train station on 17 November 1989.
SFC or MSG (full name unknown) assigned to the DivArty Communications Platoon took his own life. He had been diagnosed with cancer that was believed to be due to his contact with Agent Orange in Viet Nam. At that time, the Signal Officer was MAJ Alexander and the DivArty Commander was COL Magruder. This information was provided by Todd Ringenbach. Anyone with further details, please let us know.
1LT Mike Case In 1989 or 1990, 1LT Mike Case (99% sure that’s his name) took his own life by shooting himself in the head. He was assigned to one of the Cav Battalions on Kirchgoens (3-5 I’m pretty sure). One of his soldiers had accidentally shot himself or another soldier while handling Mike’s POW. I remember being told about it the next morning during a softball game on The Rock. Mike was a great guy and a great Officer. I think he just thought his career was over and was devastated by it all…..Chris Barrett
PFC (Albert ?) and PFC (Christopher ?) stationed in Buedingen were killed in a car accident after a night in the Big Valley discotheque between Radmühl and Obereichenbach. As I arrived one of them was still alive, but died soon after we got him out of the car (a green DAF). The two soldiers had gotten into a fight earlier at the discotheque; so, many people thought that this was not an accident. Yvonne
SPC Michael Viloria, HHB 2nd Battalion 82nd Artillery died when he fell from the roof of his barracks in April 1990.
I was SPC Michael Viloria’s roommate at the time of his death and remember the incident. Viloria had been downtown celebrating with SGT Lou Petz who was ETS-ing the next day. I was on the phone in the Hallway when Viloria returned to the barracks about 9:00pm. He had run back to the barracks from downtown Friedberg (about a mile) and was going to bed. When I got off the phone about 30 minutes later and went to bed, Viloria was sound asleep. About an hour later the CQ pounded on our door saying someone had fallen off the roof, and it looked like Viloria, to which I responded that that was impossible he was in his bed asleep. We looked and found the window open and Viloria’s bed empty. Apparently in his sleep he had got up and climbed out the window thinking he was going to the latrine, and subsequently fell four stories to the ground, landing flat on his back. He was evacuated by German civilian medical personnel, which was the case whenever someone was seriously injured. He died in the German Hospital a few hours later from massive internal injuries. Viloria had less than 30 days left in Germany and had orders to Fort Polk Louisiana. He was from Santa Ana, CA. He was absolutely the funniest person I have ever met in my life, he could always make people laugh no matter what the situation was. This occurred the same week as SSG Jackson (see next casualty immediately below) dropping dead during PT. SSG Jackson had only been in Germany a short time and no one really knew him well. He simply dropped dead during PT. We were told the cause of death was undetermined and that they had sent him to Walter Reed for an autopsy, which was also inconclusive as to a cause of death, he had no known health conditions.Information provided by: Scott Thorland email@example.com
SSG Jackson, HHB 2nd Battalion 82 Artillery died from a heart attack while participating in physical training in April 1990.
PFC Rowe HHC 2nd Battalion 67th Armor, was assigned as a mechanic working on the B Company maintenance team. After the completion of a company service the company conducted a post service road march, during a maintenance halt to inspect the vehicles PFC Rowe was hit on the back of his head by the mirror of a passing MP escort vehicle humvee. At first it appeared the PFC Rowe had no ill effects from the blow to the head. Upon return to post he was checked out again & it was determined that his injuries were very serious. He died in a Medevac helicopter on the way to the hospital in Frankfurt on 2 September 1990.
SFC Skretchen. Mess Sergeant HHC 2nd Battalion 67th Armor died during a training rotation at Grafenwoehr in October 1990. He was shot while on duty in the Dining Facility by one of his soldiers who had just received some Uniform Code of Military Justice discipline. The soldier who shot SFC Skretchen later took his own life when he was about to be captured. PFC Berry & PFC Richardson were also wounded during this attack, but they later recuperated from their wounds.
1LT Kevin Dudley, B Company, 3rd Squadron 8th Cavalry died of an aneurysm while running for physical training in November 1990.
Unknown Soldier 1990 While I was assigned to the Scout Plt 5/18 Infantry a PVT (unknown name) and I think from B Company went up to the attic of the barracks and hung himself. Years later around 2000 I was in the middle of a PCS move from Fort Knox and second day of packing and pickup of my household goods, and really a few days left at Knox, 2 CID agents came to my quarters and asked me about my time in Friedberg and if anything there stuck out in my mind, and there were 2 incidents that I immediately thought of, (1) Was a big search for a case or Fragmentation grenades that came up lost, we walked up and down some of the roads leading to the AHA, to my knowledge it was never found. (2) Was the guy that hung himsefl, I asked the agents what this was all about and if it was about the suicide and they said to me “it’s along those lines” creepy, never approached about it again. Jason Garcia Scout Plt 5/18 Inf
CW4 Wigham committed suicide, using his issue .38 cal. pistol sitting in the cockpit of an OH-58 Kiowa, while at Fliegerhorst Kaserne, Hanau Germany, in 1990. He was an OH-58 Kiowa pilot with G Co. Task Force Viper, 227th DASB. I was working on an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, about 30 meters from him at the time of his death. 1LT Christine Luft and two MPs attempted to stop him, but could not reach him in time. Paul S.Thronburg
Michael Cary was killed coming back from Gravenwoehr on the Autobahn he was stationed in Hanau any info would be nice.