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My Army Redstone Missile Days

Page 10




7th Army

Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 333rd Artillery

40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Bad Kreuznach, Germany

Where Are They Now?

The Men Who Proudly Served
in 40th Artillery Group (Redstone)

PFC E-3 Ronald A. Smith

Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 333rd Artillery
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Bad Kreuznach, Germany

Ron Smith was inducted into the US Army in June 1959, and received Basic Training at Fort Ord, California, completing Basic in early September. Ron received orders to report to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for Advanced Training.  Along with Larry Satterfield, John Samples and 20 others, Ron attended the 8-week RMMMC 59-3, the third such RMMMC held at Fort Sill.  The class ran from mid September to mid-November 1959.  At the completion of RMMMC, along with 3 others, Ron was assigned to Battery A of 40th Artillery Group in Bad Kreuznach, Germany.

Ron was initially assigned to the Servicing Section, where he operated the erector/servicer truck and equipment employed to raise the missile.  Ron participated in the Battery’s Annual Service Firing exercise at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in March 1960.  In September 1960, to fill a vacancy, Ron was reassigned as Battery Clerk, the position he held until he rotated home for discharge in June 1961.

In Ron's own words:

Larry Satterfield, John Samples and I left Battery A in June 1961 and after a rather uneventful trip across the Atlantic in a transport ship were released from active duty. Larry and I flew from NYC to San Francisco where we were met by our families.

After a few months of being away from active duty I received orders assigning me to the 820th Engineer Company, a reserve unit in a nearby city. When I met the CO he asked me what I did for a living, and I told him. He asked if I had any welding experience and I answered in the affirmative. He then told me that they were in need of a blacksmith and assigned me to the trailor that had lots of machine shop equipment for working on the vehicles, and also included a complete welding shop. During our first two week summer camp at Camp Roberts, which is near the desert just north of Paso Robles, CA I did repair of all the vehicles that were wounded in action including fixing broken chains, bent bumpers and even repaired the frame around the windshield of a jeep that belonged to one of the units at Camp Roberts and was ripped up by running into a low hanging tree branch. Our XO was very grateful that I was able to do the repair in such a way that it was impossible to tell that there had been any damage. He said the paperwork would have been a nightmare if we had returned the jeep damaged. The following year we were assigned to build a timber trestle bridge over the river at Camp Roberts . Since I was one of only two members of the company who had heavy licenses my job that year was to drive a 5-ton tractor down from the bay area to camp and then to haul one of the D-8 Caterpillars to the bridge site and then haul lumber for the bridge from the railroad siding to the bridge site. There are several stories that could be told about these summr camp experiences but the internet is not the place to tell them.

When I was drafted in July 1959 I was about half way through a 5 year apprenticeship which I resumed upon my return. In 1963 I became a Journeyman Steamfitter. In 1966 I met Ruth. We were married in 1967 and bought a house in Pinole, CA where we still reside. We have a son and daughter. Our daughter and son-in-law, who were married in 2000, recently informed us that we will be grandparents around the middle of October 2005.

After 40 years at the Steamfitting trade I retired in 1997 and stay quite busy with hobbies including photography, amateur (ham) radio, taking walks with Ruth and our dog, and a fairly new hobby called Geocaching. If you haven't heard of Geocaching, allow me to explain. Using a GPS receiver folks go out to interesting places and place a cache which is sometimes a GI ammo can (without the ammo), other times a small plastic container such as tupperware or small screw-top jar that contains some trinkets, a log book and pencil if there is room. Many of the cache containers are painted with some kind of camouflage to blend in with the surroundings. Some of the caches are micro in size such as an empty plastic film container. The person who places the cache puts informtion about it along with the coordinates on the internet at: http://www.geocaching.com and others take the coordinates from there and go out to see if they can find it. Those who find it are invited to take a trinket and leave one of their own in the container and sign the log. I have found over 170 of these and this has taken me on some very nice hikes and drives to places that I may not otherwise have known about. I have also placed five caches for others to find. If you go to the geocaching page and enter your zip code it will show you a list of caches in your area. All it takes to join the fun is a connection to the internet, a GPS receiver and a sense of adventure.

As I got closer to retirement I was looking for another hobby to add to the others and in 1994 decided to go for an amateur radio license. It is a great hobby, and I have met lots of interesting people and learned lots of new things since I joined the group. My amateur radio callsign is KE6RS. If you would like to check out amateur radio go to: http://www.arrl.org.

Jim Ryan and I were able to get back in touch in December 2003 and I have enjoyed our correspondence and exchange of photos and stories. I am very grateful to Jim for his encouragement and help in finding several of the others who served with us in the Redstone group. I am also excited about Jim's web page and thank him for all of the hard work that has gone into producing it. If anyone, whether a former Redstone crewman or not, would like to contact me to discuss the missile, amateur radio, or Geocaching, I can be contacted at ke6rs@arrl.net.

Best regards,

Ron Smith

SP4 E-4 John G. Jardine

Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 333rd Artillery
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Bad Kreuznach, Germany

John Jardine was inducted into the US Army in November 1958, and received his basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey.  John left Fort Dix on 31 January 1959, and flew to Fort Sill, Oklahoma the next night.  During February and March 1959 while attending RMMMC at the Redstone School, John was billeted in 2nd Enlisted Student Battery.  Reed Moon and Hubert Riddle III were RMMMC classmates.  At the completion of RMMMC John received his orders for Battery A of 40th Artillery Group in Bad Kreuznach, Germany.  John departed Fort Sill by train on 10 April 1959, arriving back at Fort Dix on 12 April.  John departed for Germany on 25 April aboard the USNS Rose.

John was initially assigned to the Servicing Section of Battery A, but was subsequently reassigned to the Firing Section where his duties included driving the Fire Control and Test Truck.  In June 1959, with the rank of Private E2, John was a member of the Battery A team that supported the Redstone Trainer Missile on display at the Paris Air Show.  John also participated in the Battery’s Annual Service Firing exercise at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in March 1960. John served in Battery A until mid-October 1960, when he rotated home for discharge on 1 November 1960.

In John's own words:

I departed Des Gouttes Kaserne and Bad Kreuznach in mid-October 1960 and trained to Bremerhaven to board USNS PATCH for the trip to the USA . We left on 19 October and with stops in Southampton and Newfoundland reached the terminal in Brooklyn in 11 days. The trip was very pleasant. I fell into a niche that was too high in seniority for any of the menial tasks and too low to be placed in charge of any group. So I was free the entire voyage. My only duty was to get out of the rack and make it to all the meals. I enjoyed the sea air and watched movies. Good duty.

After arriving in the land of the big PX we were bussed to Fort Dix for processing. I was separated from active duty on November 1, All Saints Day. I was transferred to the USAR for annual training although I never had to do any training. I took a bus to Philadelphia then the subway and another bus to within three blocks of our house. I walked to  Bailey Street where I was greeted by my mother. It was good to be home.

I quickly entered the social scene again. After a long rest I returned to work just before Christmas. When I reported to the boiler shop they greeted me by assigning me  to the graveyard shift-1200 to 0800. I didn't like  it at first. It plays hell with your social life but it was an excellent way to save money as you're relegated to one or two nights out. I eventually was released from this shift after the work load was reduced.

In 1962 I did some soul searching and decided if I was ever going to get out of the boiler shop I would have to return to school. I enrolled in La Salle College (now University). It was also at this time that a group of my friends and I decided to spend Labor Day in the Pocono Mountains about 90 miles from Philadelphia. It was on this trip that I met a lovely young woman named Maryann. Little did I realize that one day she would become my wife.

I completed my first year at La Salle  and decided I had to step up the pace if I was ever going to finish. I took three courses a semester after that first year and one summer course for each of three years. I was surprised and delighted when the government reinstated the GI Bill retroactively in 1964. This was a great benefit both financially and in motivating me to keep going.

In November of 1965 Maryann did me the great honor of becoming my wife. We celebrate our 40th anniversary this November. Everyday I realize what a lucky man I am to have her by my side these 40 years.

We had bought a house in Drexel Hill a western suburb of Philadelphia before we married.  I continued at La Salle and things started to pick up in the shipyard. The Brooklyn Naval Shipyard was slated to close and we received more work and also a number of their employees. I received a series of promotions until 1967 when I became a Production Controller.

In September 1966 Maryann and I were blessed with our first child a daughter, Mary. She was followed by Julie in September 1967 and Jennifer in  November 1968.

In June 1968 I completed  La Salle with a B.S. in Business Administration. I started course work towards a Master of  Business Administration at Temple University. I only took one course a semester. I tried to give Maryann a little help with the babies.

In 1969 I applied for a job with the Naval Ship Systems Command (Navships)  in Washington, D.C.  I was accepted and reported on 2 June 1969. Our office was physically in Bethesda, Maryland. Maryann and I had made two trips to the area earlier and had put a down payment on a house in Rockville, Maryland. We sold our house in Drexel Hill and moved in July.

Eventually all of Navships was moved to Arlington, Virginia in 1970. In September 1971 I  began work towards a Masters Degree in Administration at The George Washington University. With credit for my work at Temple and attending during the Summer I completed the program and graduated In February 1974. Again the G.I. Bill  was a big help.

In January of 1978 we sold our house in Rockville and moved to Vienna, Virginia. This was a much easier commute than coming from Rockville. We lived there until 2000.

I received my last promotion in 1974 to the Office of Maritime Affairs. This office in cooperation with the Maritime Administration was responsible for keeping abreast of developments in the shipbuilding and ship repair industry as they may affect the Navy's needs . This involved ongoing studies using various scenarios.

In June of 1987 I was offered and accepted early retirement thus ending 34 years of federal service. I started in the shipyard as an apprentice boilermaker in 1953 and finished as a shipbuilding industrial specialist in 1987.

I sold cars for Ford for almost a year but found this job required too many hours for not enough money. It was a good experience and something I always wanted to try.

In 1988 I went to work for the Commonwealth of Virginia. I worked with companies, unions, schools and individuals. The job  promoted the use of apprenticeship for training individuals in various trades and ensuring that training was leading to skilled craftsworkers. It was a rewarding job. I retired again in 1997.

In 2000 we were looking for a place to retire. Although we enjoyed our house in Virginia it was too big and more land than we needed. Our oldest daughter had given birth  to our first grandchild, a girl, Shannon, on Thanksgiving Day, 1999. While visiting her in Fort Worth we decided to look around the area. The houses were more reasonable than those in the D.C. area. Although summers can get warm, the winters are much milder than those in the east. We bought a house in a new development about a mile from our daughter and moved to Texas. On Christmas Eve, 2003 our first grandson, Philip, was born.  Our other daughters are married. Julie lives in San Diego and Jennifer is in Virginia Beach.

Our son-in-law worked for Delta Airline at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Recently he was transferred to Atlanta. Their house is for sale and they are looking in Atlanta for another. Delta's situation is not the best so the future is uncertain. We enjoy living in Fort Worth but our next move if any awaits future developments.

I join with others in congratulating Jim Ryan on his success in documenting both his military service and that of A Battery. It was my good fortune to have served with Jim for a short period. He impressed me with his knowledge and dedication both qualities that have contributed to his success after the military.

I was also fortunate to have served with a great bunch of guys. The memories I have are mostly good ones and I look back fondly on my time in the Army. I'm glad they invited me.

All the best,

John Jardine

SP4 E-4 Reed L. Moon

Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 333rd Artillery
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Bad Kreuznach, Germany

Reed Moon is originally from Idaho. After an initial 21 months of National Guard service from February 1957 to November 1958, Reed joined the US Army on 12 November 1958 at Fort Douglas, Utah. Reed took his Basic training in Company D, 39th Infantry, Fort Carson, Colorado from 19 November 1958 to 27 January 1959. On 28 January 1959 Reed reported to 2nd Enlisted Student Battery, Fort Sill, Oklahoma where from 2 February to 27 March 1959 he attended Redstone Mechanical Materiel Maintenance Course (RMMMC) No. 1 for the 169.10 MOS.

Reed served in Battery A of 40th Artillery Group from April 1959 to April 1961. While serving in Battery A Reed was assigned to the Firing Section, where his duties included operating checkout consoles in the Fire Control and Test Truck (FC&TT).  In the eight months Reed and I served together in Battery A, we operated the Range Computer and Lateral Computer checkout consoles side by side in the FC&TT. In August 1960 Reed served as part of a joint Army/civilian contractor team demonstrating the Pershing I missile system to NATO, serving directly under the US Army Brigadier General in charge of the demonstration team.

After leaving Battery A on 2 April 1961, Reed was reassigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he was assigned to Redstone Instructor Battery, 1st Missile Training Battalion. In September 1961, as a result of the Berlin Wall Crisis in August 1961, Reed was extended on active duty until February 1962 . Reed was separated from active duty with the rank of Specialist 5 E-5 on 20 February 1962 – the day of John Glenn’s epic orbital first flight onboard the Mercury space capsule Friendship 7.

Here is an edited synopsis of Reed’s own words:

I joined the Army National Guard on 18 February 1957. On 12 November 1958 I received an Honorable Discharge from the National Guard and on this same date I was sworn in to active duty in the US Army at Fort Douglas, Utah. I received my basic training in Company D, 39th Infantry, Fort Carson, Colorado between 19 November 1958 and 27 January 1959. On 28 January 1959 I reported to 2nd Enlisted Student Battery, Fort Sill, Oklahoma where from 2 February to 27 March 1959, I attended Redstone Mechanical Materiel Maintenance Course No. 1, for an MOS of 169.10. I left Fort Sill on 9 April and reported to Fort Dix, New Jersey on 12 April to await overseas orders. I left New York harbor on 25 April aboard the USNS Rose and arrived in Bremerhaven, Germany on 1 May. On 2 May I arrived at my new assignment, A Battery, 217th Field Artillery Missile Battalion, APO 252, Bad Kreuznach, Germany.

I was promoted to PFC E-3 (Temporary Grade) on 21 August 1959. On 23 February 1960 I flew from Rhein Main Air Base to McGuire AFB, New Jersey and on to Fort Bliss, Texas for Battery A's annual service firing of a Redstone Missile at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. On 26 February, while at WSMR, I was promoted to SP4 E-4 (Temporary Grade). After participating in the successful launch of the Redstone by Battery A on 15 March, I departed Fort Bliss on 21 March for the return flight to Rhein Main AB, Frankfurt, Germany.

On 30 April 1960, in strictly a paperwork change, I was relieved of asignment to Battery A, 217th FA Msl Bn and reassigned to Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 333rd Artillery.

On 15 August 1960 I went TDY on the team that took the first Pershing Missile around Europe and demonstrated it to European Commanders.  From 24 August to 8 September we visited Baumholder, Stuttgart, Munich, Nuremberg, Grafenworth, Frankfurt, and Bad Kreuznach. On 8 September I received a Certificate of Training on the US Army Pershing Missile System. Our group included a one star General from the Pentagon and an Engineering team from Martin Marietta.  I received Letters of Commendation from the General, and was offered a job in Florida by Martin Marietta staff following my discharge from the Army.  Names elude me, but I may have them on orders I might have saved in my old Duffel Bag, or in letters I mailed to my Mom that I now have in my possession.

I left Battery A on 2 April 1961 and sailed home on the USNS Patch, arriving in New York on 11 April 1961. After I left Germany, I landed back in Fort Sill, where after a 30 day delay en route including leave back home in Idaho, I reported for duty on 11 May to the Redstone Instructor Battery, 1st Field Artillery Missile Training Battalion. On 29 June 1961 I was promoted to SP5 E-5 (Temporary Grade). On 11 August I completed the official US Army Still and Motion Picture Projectionist Training Course given at Fort Sill. On 19 September because of the Berlin Wall Crisis I was extended on active duty to 20 February 1962. I was discharged on the day that John Glenn took his now famous ride around the world atop a Redstone. (actually, the Mercury capsule placed in orbit by an Atlas missile booster on 20 February 1962: Jim Ryan).

About a year later I went back to Idaho.  I married a young lady from Marlow, Oklahoma that I had been dating.  We have three daughters.  I lived in Oklahoma City for a couple of years and then worked for Lear Siegler Service for five years as an aircraft electrician on military aircraft – trainers, fighters, and transports. I helped outfit the first Huey 1 helicopters in Fort Benning (Georgia) the shipped to Viet Nam; and also worked on the 3 T-28 prop planes that were given to South Viet Nam to fly missions in Nam.

My wife and I traveled around the USA with Lear for five years.  After our kids came along, we stopped traveling, and I took a position with Halliburton as a Turbine Flow Meter Sales/Maintenance Rep. I lived and worked 30 years in Casper, Wyoming in that capacity before retirement.  Dick Cheney signed my retirement plaque.  I now work for Automation Electronics in Casper.  I am a Sales Consultant with the Electronic Control Systems Division, and I travel extensively around the Rocky Mountain States.


October 13, 2017

It is with heartfelt sadness I learned that our 40th Artillery Group Battery A colleague and friend Reed L. Moon after a month-long illness passed early in the morning of Thursday October 12, 2017. To Reed's wife Thelma and the entire Moon family, on behalf of our Redstone missile colleagues I extend sincerest condolences.

SSgt E-6 Eugene Chronister

Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 333rd Artillery
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Bad Kreuznach, Germany

Gene Chronister attended the February 1958 REMMC that had Phase 1 training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and Phase 2 training at the Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama. After completing REMMC, Gene was assigned to the maintenance section of the Redstone School at Fort Sill.  I served with Gene in the Redstone School maintenance section from July 1959 until June 1960.  At that time, Gene had the rank of SP5 E5, and I believe he was in his second enlistment.

Gene subsequently served in Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 333rd Artillery, 40th Artillery Group (Redstone), at Des Gouttes Kaserne, Bad Kreuznach, Germany from October 1960 to February 1963.  Gene and I served together in the Firing Section of Battery A between his arrival in October 1960 and my departure in January 1962.  Gene’s Firing Section duties also include operating one of the Fire Control and Test Truck checkout consoles.

In 1961 Gene was promoted to Staff Sergeant E6.  Gene left 40th Artillery Group in early 1963 to attend the six month Infantry Officers’ Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia.  In September 1963 Gene was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry, but later became an officer in the Ordnance Corps with nuclear ordnance, and served in Viet Nam commanding a conventional ordnance company. After a 20+ year military career, Gene retired with the rank of Major O-4.

Here is an edited synopsis of Gene’s own words:

SFC Stacy and his wife Eula live in Tennessee.  They lived in Huntsville for a long time and I got to see them occasionally at the PX and commissary.  But their daughter insisted that they move closer to her so that she could take care of them.  I left Germany in early 1963 and went to Fort Benning, Georgia for 6 months of OCS.  I was commissioned in September of that year, but left the infantry and became an Ordnance Officer.  I got into nuclear ammo for a while and later went to Viet Nam where I had a conventional ammo company near Da Nang. After that little vacation I spent the rest of my career in supply and maintenance assignments.  I retired a Major, went to technical school for a couple of years and worked at a local hospital where I again retired.  Earnie and I bought a motor home and do a little traveling.  Mostly we follow the Alabama football team in the fall.  Also to Mardi Gras celebrations in Mobile, Alabama where Mardi Gras originally started, by the way.  We have two children, a son and a daughter, and four grandkids: two girls and twin boys.

SP4 E-4 Buddy G. Harbin

580th Engineer Company
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Bad Kreuznach, Germany

Buddy G. Harbin enlisted in the US Army, serving three years from May 1958 to May 1961.  Buddy’s hometown was Greenview, Illinois.  Buddy received his 8 weeks of Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  After Basic Training, Buddy remained at Fort Leonard Wood for an additional 8 weeks of Advanced Training with the Corps of Engineers.  At the completion of Advanced Training, Buddy reported to the Overseas Replacement Center in Fort Dix, New Jersey to await shipment to Germany.  After 10 days at Fort Dix awaiting troopship transport, Buddy flew to Germany on a USAF MATS flight from McGuire AFB to Rhein-Main AB in Frankfurt, Germany, and then traveled via rail to his assignment with 580th Engineer Company, 40th Artillery Group at Des Gouttes Kaserne in Bad Kreuznach, Germany.  Buddy served in 580th Engineer Company for two years from October 1958 to October 1960, primarily as a liquid oxygen (LOX) tanker driver.  Buddy completed the final seven months of his enlistment back at Fort Leonard Wood.  After his separation from the US Army, Buddy returned to his home in Illinois, where he took up farming.  Buddy currently grows soybeans and corn on his 1,000+ acre farm in central Illinois.

Here is an edited synopsis of Buddy's own words:

I took my basic and advanced basic at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, … After basic I spent 8 more weeks at Ft. Leonard Wood of advanced basic, learning how to drive bulldozers, and other heavy equipment and how to put together floating bridges, … spent a few days learning about explosives … and then went to Ft. Dix New Jersey for 10 days waiting to be shipped to Germany.  Fortunately I got to go by air.  I was a small town country boy that had never eaten Pizza until myself and a few other guys went over to the EM Club on McGuire AFB while we were waiting to ship out, … and I should mention the 3.2 beer.

I arrived in Frankfurt in October of 1958 and was put on a train to Bad Kreuznach. Two soldiers whose names were Reid and Timmons picked me up at the train station. They took me to Des Gouttes Kaserne and the next day I was assigned to the 580th as a tanker driver.  I hauled Liquid Oxygen for the Redstone Missile for the next 2 years. My CO was Captain Yeager and my platoon Sgt. was Master Sgt. Bonds.  Sgt. Gravely was my squad leader.

Even though I left Bad Kreuznach a couple of months after you arrived I feel like I know you, since we served in the same place and probably with some of the same guys.  When you enter the gate into Des Gouttes Kaserne, some of us guys of the 580th were housed on the second floor of the barracks on the left.  I think A Battery was on the first floor.  We may have even seen or even talked to each other.  We stood formation in front of the main 580th barracks every morning.

The room under the mess hall was called the Snake Pit.  When I was there you went downstairs and there was a mini PX, a small room that was used by a German lady seamstress, and another room where we took coffee and donut breaks in the morning, and you could get beer and sandwiches in the evening.  The barbershop was to the right of the mess hall, but the door where the red sign is I think was the Medic’s office.  The German men who kept our furnaces going stayed in an upstairs room of the building to the left of the barracks I was in.  I don’t remember if that building was attached to ours or not.  I do remember we would go up there sometimes at night and buy German soda from them in the flip top bottles.  Do you remember the little guest house across the street at the far end of the motor pool where we would go to the fence and a lady would come over and we would order a ham sandwich on a hard roll and small bottle of coke for a mark?

My primary job was a Liquid Oxygen tanker driver. The LOX was produced up on Kuhberg Hill.  I hauled the empty tankers to the LOX plants, and when full, moved and stored them in dirt bunkers located  on Kuhberg Hill.  A lot of tankers were also stored in bunkers near Wackernheim.  Every so often we would make runs to Wackernheim with full tankers to top off the tankers that were stored there, because the tankers would lose LOX through evaporation. If I remember right, there were Czech Guards (Labor Service?) on the gate to get into the storage area. There also was a big field next to the storage area where the 8th Infantry Division did their practice parachute jumps which were interesting to watch.

I left Germany on October 13, 1960.  I took a 30-day leave at home and then went back to Ft. Leonard Wood for my last 6 months.  I was assigned to the 103rd Engineers and did absolutely nothing for 6 months.  My home was in Greenview, Illinois and while on leave I bought a brand new Chevrolet Corvair (I thought I really had something) and I drove home every weekend for 6 months.

I got married later that year.  My wife Carol and I have been married 44 years. I am lucky she has put up with me that long.  Unfortunately, one year after we got married our house burned down and I lost all my pictures of Bad Kreuznach and the addresses of my Army friends.  So, the pictures of Des Gouttes Kaserne brought back memories again.


June 8, 2013

It is with heartfelt sadness I learned today that our 40th Artillery Group 580th Engineer Company colleague and friend Buddy G. Harbin after a lengthy illness passed at home on March 15, 2013. To Buddy's wife Carol and the entire Harbin family, on behalf of our Redstone missile colleagues I extend sincerest condolences.

SP4 E-4 Desmond N. (Ted) Bonnington

580th Engineer Company
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Bad Kreuznach, Germany

Desmond N. Bonnington enlisted in the US Army on 21 January 1957 and served nearly three years until 31 December 1959. Initially assigned after Basic Training as an Instructor at the Engineering School, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in September 1957 Ted was re-assigned to 580th Engineer Company at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. Ted was selected the 40th Artillery Group Soldier of the Year in 1959. After the Army, Ted subsequently joined the Aerojet Corporation where he worked for 38 years. He retired in 1998 as Program Manager, Space and Strategic Propulsion.

Here is an edited synopsis of Ted's own words:

I was an instructor in electrical motor and generator repair at The Engineer School, Ft Belvoir, VA when in Sept '57 I received orders transferring me to the 580th at Redstone Arsenal. I reported in on 4 Oct 57, the day the Russkis put up Sputnik I. There was no joy in Huntsville that day. In May '58 I got to go to White Sand as part of the launch team for the B Battery qualification launch.

Then it was on to Germany for operational deployment. July 4th 1958 was spent on the road march from St Nazaire to BK. We were on the road for half the day and bivouacked at a USAF reserve field somewhere east of Paris. When we go there the EES PX was out of beer; a disaster for the 580th!!

May '59 was a high alert time as the Russians were making noise about kicking us out of Berlin by the end of May. We were in the field for over a month with the real missiles and warheads. I'm sure you heard the stories when you joined the Group.

Re: LOX plants: the 580th had 8- 8 ton/day plants, 4 each for 1st & 2nd LOX Platoons. Each plant was contained in 2 trailers. The air source trailer had 4 GMC 6-71 2-stroke diesels driving Chicago Pneumatic multi-stage air compressors. The air was piped over to the distillation column trailer which had a 4-71 diesel driving a 30 kw generator and a big Worthington Freon compressor. My hearing has suffered from working on these and the 60kw generator sets without ear protection.

In garrison one plant operated 24-7 for a month on Kuhberg hill to maintain the basic LOX load. It would then be replaced by a plant from the other platoon. All operators from the platoon worked shifts to keep the plant in production.

We also operated a plant to produce CO2 and dry ice for the heater /cooler assembly. I'll provide more info on this in time. The CO2 plant was kind of special to me. Good crew, good remote locations, good times, good local refreshments.

I was selected 40th Artillery Group Soldier Of The Year in September 1959 - this may have something to do with fixing the ice cube machine at the BK Officers' Club and fixing US-made washing machines that didn't run too well on stepped down 220v- 50 Hz power. Got $50 and a 3 day pass. Went to the Frankfurt Auto show and to Eberstadt - Darmstadt to visit family of my grandmother.

After release from active duty I joined Aerojet where I started as a design engineer and progressed thru project engineer to program management. Worked on Minuteman II & III stages II & III , US and UK Polaris A3, Sandia/Army STARS, and Peacekeeper /MX stage II. When I started I was one of a very few at work who had any actual missile experience. During this time I worked with the late Dr's. Willie Reidel and Rudi Beichel, both of whom had been on the V2 program with Von Braun, and worked on the Redstone in the early days at Huntsville. According to them all of our field deployment methods were based on those used for the V2. When working with the Army at Huntsville on the STARS program I dealt with several people who were associated with the Redstone as either young civilians or junior officers. Also on the STARS program my lead quality assurance engineer had been with A- Bat, 46th Arty in Neckersulm. Drove the truck with the propulsion section of the missile. Two years ago during a private rail car excursion I met a man who had been a classified documents clerk with the 630th and had deployed with us in '58. I retired in 1998 as Program Manager, Space and Strategic Propulsion after 38 years at Aerojet.

SP4 E4 Ronald D. Young

Headquarters Battery
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Wackernheim, Germany

Ron Young enlisted in the Army in April 1959 and took basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. After basic training, Ron was assigned to the Supply School at Fort Jackson.  That summer, the Gl's were loaded onto buses and shipped to Fort Dix, New Jersey to receive their overseas assignments.   Ron was assigned to the 40th Artillery Group based at McCully Barracks, Wackernheim, Germany, where he performed his duties with 40th Artillery Group’s  Headquarters Battery Supply Section.  After spending a couple of months in the office doing administrative work, it became obvious to the Supply Sergeant that Ron would be better suited doing outside work.  Ron was assigned a 2 &1/2 ton truck, which he used to deliver and pick up supplies all over Germany.   One duty was picking up the rations for the Group’s Batteries and Companies, and delivering them to the field camps where they were conducting exercises involving the Redstone Missile.

After completing his overseas tour of duty Ron was re-assigned to a Nike-Hercules Headquarters Battalion located in Suitland, Maryland, just outside of Washington. D.C.  After spending his last six months in Suitland, Ron was discharged on May 10, 1962 at Fort Myer, Virginia   A few days after separation from active duty Ron obtained a job with The Washington Gas Light Company, where he worked 34 years, retiring as a supervisor of Gas Control Dispatch.   Ron married his high school sweetheart in 1965 and they lived in Maryland all their married life.   Two sons and five grandchildren all live close by.   Ron has enjoyed good health most of his life until two years ago when he had to undergo a double lung transplant.  As Ron puts it, Recovery is tough, but well worth it.

Here are Ron's own words (with some minor editing: jkr):

After I arrived in Bremerhaven Germany, September 7, 1959, I rode a train all night and was left on the side of the tracks at 4 in the morning in some strange little village and country.   I was all alone, scared, and I just stood there waiting for a soldier from McCully Barracks to pick me up. We drove about an hour to Wackernheim. We went through the main gate and found no one at home.   Everyone was on field maneuvers and I was to report to the field. They gave me my equipment and assigned me a temporary bunk. The next morning, I was then driven miles out to the mountains, not knowing what to expect.   When we arrived, I was told we'd be going back to McCully the next day, as the drills were over.   They put me on some intersection in a small town and I was to direct the convoy to the right road as they returned to McCully.   It was cold, rainy and I think I stood there for about 12 hours or more.

This was how I got started with the 40th Artillery Group.   It was one of the most miserable times of my life but little did I know, looking back, that this place was one of the best experiences of my life.   I have thought of the memories of McCully, BK (Bad Kreuznach: jkr), and the friends I made for most of my life, mostly because I had it pretty good but didn't know it back then.

I started out working in the Supply office doing clerical work, filing, typing etc.  I talked my way into driving supply runs.  I was assigned a 2&1/2 ton truck and every day I got to leave the post and deliver or pick up supplies from all over Germany.  I would go to Baumholder, Frankfurt, Worms, Mannheim, Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, Ramstein AFB. and some place called BK.  ! loved seeing the country and not being on post.  One day I ran into an old high school buddy who was stationed at Wiesbaden and worked at the Finthen Air Field located near Wackerheim.  He was looking to buy another car and wanted me to buy his 1948 Volkswagen.  He helped me get an international drivers license and I bought his old car for $50.  Not many single guys on post had a license or a car.  Every weekend I'd gather some of my barracks buddies and we'd go sightseeing somewhere, mostly up the Rhine River to Rudesheim, Bingen, Koblenz.  Most of these guys never got off post unless they went with me on a touring adventure.  Officers on Post found out about my civilian license, and when they rotated back to the States they would get me to take their car to Bremerhaven for shipment to New York.  They would give me train money back to Frankfurt, but I discovered on my first trip that all you had to do was ask anyone picking up their car in Bremerhaven for a ride to Frankfurt.  They were all going south so it was very easy, and I ended up with a little extra money.

The winter of 1959-60, I found out they were going to have basketball tryouts for the 40th Artillery Group team.  I made the team and we played a lot, not very well, but a lot.  We lost 30 games that year but developed a great fan base, especially the Group Commander Colonel (Joseph) Harrison.  Colonel Harrison vowed that next year we would have a good team.  Despite losing I had a great time and met many new friends: Carl Wright, Cecil Stevens, John Jardine, Captain Charles Thompson, Sergeant Bob Hinton, and many more.  That was a long time ago and I just can't remember all my teammates' names.  We had to do our regular duties during the morning but we were off in the afternoons for practice.

In the spring of 1960 some Special Service people came to Wackernheim to hold tryouts for the Bad Kreuznach Bears baseball team.  I remember about twenty soldiers showing up for the one-day session.  Most of us hadn't played or touched a ball in over a year.  I was the only one from the Post that was invited to go to BK and try out for the big team.  I went to BK and made the team.  I was transferred to Des Gouttes Kaserne in BK, which was not strange to me at all because I made deliveries there many times.  My Supply officer, Major Gallagher, was a big baseball fan.  I was his personal jeep driver when we went on field maneuvers and we talked sports a lot.  To my surprise, he was not happy that I made the team and would not be around for him during the summer.  To get my first paycheck (which was $99 a month) at BK, I had to drive back to McCully barracks to pick it up.  I was told I had to go see Major Gallagher to get my paycheck.  Major Gallagher gathered all the office employees together in the office and showed everyone my promotion orders to SP4.  I was so excited.  Life was really good.  Then he tore them up and said, "Maybe Young will get his next month.  You shouldn't get extra pay for playing baseball".  I drove back to BK so dejected.  The next month when I went back to get paid, my SP4 grade was there on my check.  He really pulled a good one on me.  I don't remember ever seeing Major Gallagher again.  I think he had been sent back to the States before I got back to McCully in the fall.

Lieutenant Dan "Turk" Lovejoy was the OlC/Coach/Player for the baseball team. Great player.  He was a catcher in college, so we then had three good catchers.  Dan had never played outfield but he learned to play centerfield in no time, and I would say that by the end of the year he was the best outfielder in the league.  I started the season at shortstop but after going 2 for 23 I was sent to the bench.  Not only did I have trouble with the curve but I also had trouble with anything they threw.  You reach a certain level in baseball where you will never get better.  Well, I had reached mine.  These guys were good and that's when I discovered I was in way over my head, but I did get to play a lot and got a little better as the summer wore on.  I remember the last game of the season we were playing in Frankfurt, and the bus never came to take us back to BK.  We waited from 5 to 11PM before a couple of trucks took us back.  That was a long day.

After the season, Lt. Dan said they could cut orders and have me stay at BK and play basketball for Division Trans instead of going back to Wackerheim.  They had Stu Berlin, the league’s leading scorer and they were expecting to have a good team.  I told them I would go back to McCully and spend my winter in Wackernheim.  I can't believe anyone would want to do that.  I told them we had some new players coming in and that I thought we'd have a winning team.  Dan and the other guys thought I was crazy.  "You lost 30 games last year, how could you possibly be better" they'd say.  My new guys were Herschel Worthy and Tom Sims.  We were hoping to also have LeRoy Frazier, but he was due to rotate back to the States.  Along with Carl Wright and Cecil Stevens, our team was better than anything you have right now.  For once in my life, I was right. (See page 7, Section: SOME DIVERSIONS, for history of the 1960-61 Basketball Team).

The Redstone Missile.  I'm sure by now you know I know nothing about a rocket, missile or warhead.  I was a truck driver for HQ Battery and worked in supply but I need to let you in on a joke on me.  One day we were walking to the gym for basketball practice and the Redstone Rocket was standing in the launch position in the field at McCully.  We were all commenting on how big it was, how far it would go, how much it cost, etc.  The next day we were going to practice and I looked at the rocket and it was white on the bottom and I said. "Look at the rocket. Why are they painting it white?"  Well, about six guys broke down laughing so hard, I thought one of them would wet himself.  I still didn't get it until they explained to me about the fueling (Ron is referring to the frost band that would form on the surface of the missile thrust unit when the oxidizer tank was filled with liquid oxygen: jkr).  They had a lot of fun with that story, at my expense.  I was the coach of this team and can assure you that this was one of the hardest practice days they ever had.  Being player/coach, I had to do every drill I gave them to do.  It was just one bad day for me but one great memory.

In the fall of 1960 I left beautiful BK and returned to McCully.  I had no idea what lay ahead or what to expect.  The basketball team was assigned an OIC, Captain Charles Thompson.  He was very enthusiastic, but a no-nonsense, professional type of officer.  I didn't feel good about him at first but it was a perfect match.  He told me we needed to find a coach and that was the one thing we really needed.  We searched, and spread the word throughout the 40th for a coach.  He asked if I would run the practices until we found one.  I told him I would but I didn't want to have anything to do with coaching, that is was too big of a distraction for me as a player.  I just wanted to play and win.  So, the first game came and we still didn't have a coach.  The next thing you know, we are 14-0 and I'm still player/coach.  I could tell Captain Thompson had stopped looking for a coach.  It was going to be me the rest of the way whether I liked it or not.  Of course we had a great year (See Page 7, Some Diversions).  Captain Thompson would schedule us exhibition games during the middle of the week and we would play league games on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons.  It was basketball seven days a week or report for your duty job.  He got us new warm-up uniforms and we looked real sharp.  We looked like winners and win we did.

At the end of the season we had several tournaments to play and this was when change was on the way.  Our two best players were scheduled to return to the States.  Our leading scorer Carl Wright was the first to go and then it was our best all-around player, Herschel Worthy.  This changed the whole chemistry of the team.  We picked up a few good players from other teams to play the tournaments but we started losing.  I had a hard time dealing with this.  By this time I remember really being stressed out and tired.  It was all coming to an end and I hated to see it end.  Not only were Carl and Herschel good players but they were close friends and I missed them badly.  We played over 40 games and I think we lost 7 but none in league play.  We were 30-0, a reversal from the year before.  We were truly blessed.  In two years, I can't remember anyone getting hurt or missing a game.  Everyone got along well.  Maybe we had some bad moments along the way but I don't remember any.

You can contact me at: ronpatyoung8@yahoo.com


PFC E3 Ronald A. Smith, SP4 Reed L. Moon

Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 333rd Artillery
40th Artillery Group (Redstone)
Bad Kreuznach, Germany

October 7, 2012

Video of Ron Smith and Reed Moon Reunion,

with their wives, Monika Smith and Thelma Moon

(Video can be viewed in full screen HD)



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