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Charlie Battery - Kleingartach

Scenes of Our Local Neighborhood - 1959 - 1969

I loved our local neighborhood. I mean, how many people wake up each morning and see a mediaeval castle on their horizon. You will often see the castle keep peeking over the the trees in a number of photos on this web site.

The Schloss Stocksberg was then a small pension and gasthaus, and today, it is privately owned and being restored. It was a wonderful place to be on warm summer evenings sitting at outdoor tables along the castle courtyard's veranda.

Spectacular views sweep far out into space, around and down the slopes of the vineyards, into Stockheim and the vast valley below known as the “Zabergäu”, which is the region between two rows of hills. In our case, they would be the Heuchelberg to the north, and the Stromberg to the south, which one would see on the opposite side of “das Tal“, or the valley.

I never tired of those incredible landscapes. For a satellite overview of the area, and current detailed views of the barracks and launching area “Click Here” to open a pdf file.

Getting Around...

In thinking back I'm sure that many of the local folks weren't happy with the government placing this Guided Missile Kaserne in the middle of their forest and farmlands. Also our presence focused the serious possibility of our site becoming a target of retaliation in the event of hostilities and how that would effect them.

However, I can say for the most part that, once we all got to know each other, we were accepted with friendly and understanding relations. After all, if nothing else, we did contribute to their economy to some degree. I'm sure the percentage of “Schnitzels und ein bier bitte” that were sold increased to some degree.

Basically once you left the barracks and went down Battery Road to the main road there were two choices... Left or right. If you turned left you went down the hill to Niederhofen or Kleingartach, or go right down the hill through Haberschlacht, and on to Stockheim or Brackenheim.

The first four villages mentioned are so small they are still not listed on my AAA Deluxe map of Germany. Only Brackenheim is listed, and it is a town similar to a small county seat.

Over time we got to know the paths and shortcuts, which wandered around the Schloss Stocksberg, through and around the vineyards and farmlands, down into Stockheim.

Unfortunately there was not much to do while out and about, except sit in the gasthaus and flip the top off a beer bottle and eat some schinkenwurst und brot. In the summer we would go to Brackenheim swim in the public swimming pool and hang out.

There was a week-end outdoor gasthaus in the forest behind Alpha Section, which was very pleasant and relaxing. On Sundays the Germans would go there to drink bier and socialize.

Then many of them would head over to the Launching Area and walk the fence perimeter to see what they could see. If one was walking guard around alpha section one began to feel like one of the animals in the zoo. But we understood, and for the most part they were friendly and good natured.

There was only one “incident” of note that I recall being of a threatening nature. A small group of politicos came to the launching area main gate one night and tried to gain entrance to the outer perimeter road about twelve or one in the morning.

There was a big ruckus, and I remember the BCO Captain John Popovics running around in his khaki pants and a T-shirt with his 45 on his hip. I think the rapid and forceful response they received dampened any further activities of that kind.

Sweet Smell Of Success...

Being at ground-zero in middle of farmlands wasn't always a bed of Roses. In fact in the spring time it came no where near the fragrance of Roses. It's that timeless annual event called fertilizing of the soil.

For weeks and weeks tractors would tow “honey wagons” up the hill and spread their cow and horse manure on every bit of soil one could see. And this was no short term event.

Until the “honey” out gassed and worked into the soil the olfactory senses were in a state of Numbed Shock, and there was no where to go, it was with us 24/7. Waking, sleeping, eating, walking guard, playing pinochle, etc, etc, etc. And the closest part of the base to all this was the BARRACKS...! But we all survived to drink another bier, but for that seemingly never ending period, it was brutal.

All in all I loved the area and being part of a life that was new and interesting to me. And being a small unit so isolated forced us all to be closer and there for each other. It was a rite of passage for a very young man of eighteen and I don't regret a moment of it.

The experience broadened my world view and appreciation of other cultures and ways of living. I know that many of us who shared that experience feel that way.

Our Neighborhood Update 2013...

From the beginning the premise of this website has been to share our experience in Germany with those who served, but we also hoped that local people of the area would too become interested and involved, because we were also part of their Neighborhood and history.

I am happy to say that is happening and continues to expand as time goes on. Friends like Herbert Ade-Thurow of Sersheim, Uwe Koch of Kleingartach/Schwaigern, Thomas Schulz of Heilbronn, have made, and continue to add, important contributions.

And since the beginning of 2013, Bill Griffin and I have reestablished contact with an old friend we knew, who at the time, lived in Brackenheim. His name is Uli Pfingstler and is now living in Lauffen/Neckar about 10 to 15 km from Brackenheim.

Uli and Bill established their friendship first, and I was later introduced to him. Uli is wonderful person and I am happy to have his friendship again, because we both have a great curiosity of life, and have much to share with each other.

Uli has written and contributed a collection of local History of the area known as the “Zabergäu”, as well as a brief history of Germany, and some new information that both enhances and corrects some of the photo descriptions in this “Our Neighborhood“ section. And as usual, I will give credit where it is applicable.

Und Nicht Vergessen: Klicken Sie auf die Thumbnail-Bilder...! verstehen...?