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Charlie Battery - Kleingartach/Hardheim

23 Year Odyssey in Rural Germany - 1959 - 1982

Site News - Summer 2011


SPRING - 2013



Hard Times At Hardheim

hat's what the guys at the Charlie Battery site near Hardheim, de used to refer to that duty. I imagine that the saying came into being mainly because of the name of the town.

Almost every Hardheimer I have talked to, at some point in the conversation, utters the phrase “Hard Times at Hardheim”. In fact, when I first started doing research for this website I came across a website called “Hard Times At Hardheim”.

The inclusion of the Hardheim phase of Charlie Battery's historical record has put the final cap on its long and proud tradition. For, after the closing of the Battery, it and the entire 3rd/71st were deactivated.

Actually, the deactivation of the Battalion happened in two phases. First Charlie and Delta Batteries were deactivated, then Alpha and Bravo Batteries were closed. This deactivation period occurred between 1982 - 1983. This information was told to me first hand by one Thomas Hook, who was part of the deactivation team, first at Charlie Battery, and then on to Bravo Battery.

In my discussion with Thomas Hook, he stated that he didn't understand how Charlie Battery at Kleingartach fit into the picture, saying that he had never heard of Kleingartach. I told him that when I first started doing Charlie 3rd/71st research on the Internet I had the same perplexing experiences whenever I cam across references to Charlie Battery Hardheim. So it seems that there was no historical continuity of the Battery's transition from Keingartach to Hardheim. When those who did have connections with the change over rotated home, all memory of the original site, and the connection between the two, was forgotten.

Setting The Record Straight

So, here is what I have learned over the last few years, based on conversations with guys from the two different Nike sites. This is a time Line of Charlie Battery's historical record from World War I, through World War II, and into Cold War Germany.

The following are excerpts from the 3rd Missile Battalion, 71st Artillery 5th Anniversary book published by Battalion back in 1963. We have reproduced that document and it is on our “Archives” page. So please Click Here to view this historical book.

”The lineage of the 3d Missile Battalion, 71st Artillery goes back more than forty-five years to 12 May 1918 when Battery C, 71st Artillery (Coast Artillery Corps) was organized in the Regular Army at Fort Andrews, Massachusetts. Shortly after the first world war, the unit was demobilized, and it was not until 1 July 1940 that it was reconstituted in the Regular Army as Battery C, 71st Coast Artillery (AA). On 1 September 1943, reorganization and predesignation led to the formation of Battery C, 71st AA Gun Battalion.

During World War II, the “3d of the 71st” earned battle honors, through the 552d AAA Gun Battalion, for the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe campaigns. Inactivation followed the Second World War, but in 1949 the unit was reactivated at Fort Bliss, Texas. From then until 1958, the unit was designated Battery C, 71st AA Missile Battalion.

On 12 August 1958, the organic elements of the battalion were constituted and on 17 August Battery B became the first Nike-Ajax battery in the battalion to be declared operational. The organization was then transferred, on 1 September 1958, less personnel and equipment, from Lorton, Virginia to Germany. Concurrently, the 552d AAA Gun Battalion in Germany was redesignated as the 3d Missile Battalion, 71st Artillery. This link with the 552d established the 3d Missile Battalion, as Colonel Leech, Colonel, Artillery Commanding Officer, 94th Arty Grp. mentions, as one of the oldest continuously-active air defense battalions in the defense of Western Europe.”

552d AAA Gun Battalion

The 552nd ADCOM is kind of the pivot point for those who served when the 3rd/71st was formed. It was stationed at Gerszewski Barracks in Knielingen, which is a suburb of Karlsruhe. Many of us in those formative days, after 2 weeks at sea, disembarked our troop ship and were placed on a train going south to be first assigned to Gerszewski. After several months at Gerszewski “The Zoo”, Battalion began populating the new Nike sites as they came on line, with a number of us going to Charlie Battery, Kleingartach. Please Click Here to view an aerial map.

I say the 552nd was a pivot point because, as the excerpt above states, it was first an AAA Gun Battalion. However, we have actual documentation that clearly illustrates the point where the 552nd became a Nike Missile Battery before it was merged into the 3rd/71st. It is a group photograch with crossed Nike Ajax Missiles present a great back drop for this transition.

Wade Butler, the son of Master Sergeant James O. Butler has donated a variety of images that document the family's time in Germany, including this group photo. His other photos range from shots of Gerszewski to some where they lived at Wharton Barracks in Heilbronn.

The photo, which I was describing above is a group photograph of the 552nd ADCOM. I have not posted this image before because it is in pretty bad condition and has needed extensive restoration, which has taken a number of weeks, with full days of effort, to complete. It was further complicated by the fact that the original restoration was subsequently lost, and it had to be done all over again. That took some serious wind out of my sail, and I had to muster up to energy for a second effort. However, now that it is done I have to say that the second result turned out considerably better than the first.

So I am extremely honored to present this rare and important documentation of our history. There are guys in this photo that I recognize and served with at Charlie Battery. Certainly Master Sergeant Butler, as well as Johnnie Dupre, I think there is a very young Moody Barrentine, and possibly Ray Andreozzi. It would be great if any of you could help with identifying the guys that you might recognize. Please Click Here to view this photograph.

The Hardheim Connection

Towards the end of the 1960s decade The Army changed its defence configuration to meet its then current requirements. And remember, in those times, the Cold War was big time and hard line!

New weapons were being developed, changing geographic areas needed to be defended, and much of these strategies were also based on what was going on with the Warsaw Pact's changing offensive and defensive posture as well.

So it was determined that Nike Base at Kleingartach was no longer required, and in the 1969-1970 period the whole Charlie Battery contingent moved to Hardheim. However, there was already a Charlie Battery at Hardheim, but it was part of the 1st Missile Battalion, 67th Artillery.

What happened was that the 1st/67th at Hardheim was deactivated and the site was merged with the Charlie Battery Kleingartach. Essentially, Charlie Battery Kleingartach absorbed Charlie Battery of the 1st/67th and it all became Charlie Battery, 3rd Missile Battalion, 71st Artillery.

Charlie Battery at Hardheim existed for about another 13 or 14 years as an Nike Hercules Guided Missile Base. Then over a period of several years all of the Batteries in the 3rd/71st Battalion were deactivated at two at a time. Some of those deactivated Nike sites, however, continued to be active, as both a Hawk, and later a Patriot Missile sites.

Kleingartach also became Hawk, and sometimes concurrently, Pershing Missile sites. Both the Hawk and Pershing Guided Missiles offered the mobility that the “fixed” Nike Sites could not match, and plus, the Pershings had some serious nuclear capability, which was one of the primary strong points of the Nike Hercules and is what interested 7th Army in the early days.

So now, hopefully, the mystery of Charlie Battery's long history is resolved. We are all part of its story and history, and we all have that in common. It is my hope that this chronology is, for the most part correct. I would also hope that if anyone has any corrections or additions to this effort, they will come forward with their assistance.

Charlie Website Welcomes Hardheim

Over the past months, as the story of Charlie Battery has emerged, and as guys from Hardheim came to our website, both in the Guest Book, the Current Membership Roster, and on our Honor Roll pages, only one coarse came clear. To fully represent Charlie Battery's historical record Hardheim needed be as much a part of the website as Kleingartach.

So as of this newsletter... Hardheim will have its own presence and section on our website.

The Hardheim section of the website is to be identical to the Kleingartach Section in format, and as you can see the Navigation Bar has been updated to reflect those changes. What was the “Charlie Btry” button is now Kleingartach, and the button after “Assigned TDYs” is “Hardheim”.

There is one exception, being that the Hardheim Section might want to include a sub-section that discussed the connection of Charlie Battery, 1st Missile Battalion, 67th Artillery, so that those who came from that unit will have its connection documented as well. Also, Hardheim seems to have had a permanent contingent of MPs that must have a unit designation, and they want to have a page for their story also.

However, there is one primary problem... I could pretty much do the work for Kleingartach because I was there. But I cannot do anything like that for Hardheim for obvious reasons.

So you Hardheimers are going to have to get together and decide what you want to say. All I can do at this point is to provide that space that can be filled with photographs and stories. You see the format that the website uses, so the matrix is already there.

Actually, I think this is a great way for you guys to come together and reconnect. A cover page for the Launching Area, IFC, and Barracks area needs to be written, and members from those various area can collaborate in those efforts.

I have tired to present as high a quality photographic record as possible. The best way to do that is to have as high a resolution image as possible. Almost all of our images are old, dirty, mildewed, and they all usually require some extensive restoration. Much like, but hopefully not as bad as the original in above mentioned 552nd Group photo.

I have created a document that discusses digitizing photographs that also includes some photo samples. Please Click Here to view this information. Of course I will try to do the best I can with what ever is people contribute to the website, but I hope that all who are thinking of sharing their photographs with us will read the PDF.

Once the Hardheim Section begins to fill in the final record will be complete on Charlie Battery, 3rd Missile Battalion, 71st Artillery. If, by going by the lineage back to 1918, Charlie Battery would be approaching its 100th Anniversary in 2018. Almost 100 years, and if you think about it, because the final record is still being compliled as we go, it's like Charlie Battery still lives on. That is some history, and something for us all to have been part of and kept alive in our hearts and memory.

Web Site's Three Year Anniversary

Just a note in passing, the Charlie Battery website will be soon observing its Third Anniversary.

Happy Birthday to us...!, we will soon be three years old. Also, the website's “Hit Counter” is now approaching the 8,000 hits milestone... Not bad for just three years... ’ey?

Thank you all for your support...!

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