Photo Courtesy of Buddy G. Harbin
Buddy G. Harbin, 580th Engineer Company
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Des Gouttes Kaserne, Bad Kreuznach, Germany
Photo taken Summer 1959 or 1960
Buddy G. Harbin, from Greenview, Illinois, is standing at the entrance to the Barrracks located on the north side of the Des Gouttes compound. The first floor of this building housed members of Battery A 1st Missile Battalion 333rd Artillery 40th Artillery Group (Redstone). Buddy and some of his 580th colleagues were housed on the 2nd floor. Battery A and 580th Engineer Company were both stationed at Des Gouttes Kaserne, and shared a common mess hall, and served on guard duty together. The main 580th Barracks building was across the courtyard, on the southern side of Des Gouttes Kaserne. Battery B, 630th Ordnance Company, and Headquarters & Headquarters Battery were stationed together at McCully Barracks, Wackernheim, about 30 km away, near Mainz. Of the five units making up the 650 member 40th Artillery Group, 580th was by far the largest, with well over 200 men.
Buddy went through Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. After Basic, he spent 8 weeks of Advanced Training at Fort Leonard Wood, learning how to operate bulldozers and other heavy equipment. He was also trained on floating bridge assembly, and also spent a few days learning about explosives.
Buddy was at the Overseas Replacement Company, Fort Dix, New Jersey, for 10 days waiting shipment to Germany. He ended up going by air from McGuire AFB, New Jersey to Rhein-Main Air Base, Frankfurt, on a USAF MATS flight.
Buddy served with 580th Engineer Company from October 1958 to October 1960. Buddy drove 580th's Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tankers, used to carry and store the LOX required by the Redstone Missile rocket-type propulsion system. During a missile launch exercise the Firing Battery would pick up 2 LOX semi-trailer tankers from 580th Engineer Company. Each tanker was hauled by a 10 wheeler 5 ton tractor truck. A tanker was a rolling "thermos bottle" holding 9 tons of LOX at minus 297 degrees F or lower. Above minus 297 degrees F, the LOX would boil off into gaseous oxygen.
580th operated large portable LOX generating plants 24 hours a day at a location on Kuhberg Hill, just outside Bad Kreuznach. During 40th Artillery Group field maneuvers the LOX plants were hauled to remote operations sites. When in garrison, Buddy hauled empty LOX tankers to the LOX plants on Kuhberg Hill, and when the tankers were filled, moved and stored them in dirt bunkers also located on Kuhberg Hill. Due to LOX evaporation, Buddy would also make runs to Wackernheim with full tankers to replenish the tankers stored in bunkers at Wackernheim for use by Battery B.
580th Engineer Company also built several soccer fields in some of the surrounding smaller villages while Buddy was in 580th. He would drive a fuel tanker out to the sites to keep the bulldozers and equipment fueled. After leaving 580th Engineer Company on 13 October 1960, Buddy returned to Fort Leonard Wood for his final 6 months, assigned to 103rd Engineers.