rooper Down: Gregory Alan Ainsworth
66th Colonel of the Regiment
COL Kevin L. Jacobi
Pictures from Another Era
A Blackhorse Fourth
Point Alpha Director on Tour
World War II was still ongoing in Germany as U.S. and allied forces continued to push east and west in April 1945. 12th Army Group Commanding General Omar Bradley had just been promoted to four stars, as was George S. Patton. Dwight D. (“Ike”) Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Powers Europe, [SHAPE] had also been promoted, only to five stars and General of the Army.
In Rick Atkinson’s final book in his trilogy on the European campaign The Guns of Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945, he describes when all three of these senior generals met in Hersfeld, Germany.
Bradley had moved his headquarters to Wiesbaden; Eisenhower was in Reims, France. On April 11, 1945, Ike joined his old friend one early morning on the 12th, they “…flew eighty miles northeast, following the autobahn trace to the market town of Hersfeld. Here Patton…awaited them with an armored cavalry escort and a convoy of jeeps, including one adorned with the supreme commander’s five-star rank insignia. East they sped for twenty miles, through a lowland corridor known as the Fulda Gap, arriving at 10:30 A.M. in the Thuringian village of Merkers. A tank battalion guarded the entrance to a nineteenth-century potassium mine, where GIs had made a discovery that Patton believed Eisenhower should see.”
Atkinson goes on to write: “…The XII Corps commander, [Major] General [Manton S.] Eddy, led them onto a rickety freight elevator, and as they slowly descended the pitch-black shaft Patton quipped, ‘If that clothes-line should part, promotions in the United States Army would be considerably stimulated.’ Sixteen-hundred feet down, the doors lifted open…In a wide gallery Patton pointed to currency-engraving plates used by the Reichsbank, and stacked bales of money designated for the Wehrmacht [German solders]. Eyeing the bills, Bradley said, ‘I doubt the German army will be meeting payrolls much longer.”
The mine at Merkers was just one of several mines where the almost-defeated Third Reich stored riches and valuables, some belonging to Germany, some to countries formerly occupied by the Nazi forces. Atkinson goes on to comment: “Eventually valued by SHAPE in excess of half a billion dollars, the treasure in the Merkers shaft lay within what soon would become the Soviet occupation zone.
The rest of the story is probably better explained by the recent movie “Monuments Men.” In 1949, Hersfeld became Bad Hersfeld to recognize the spa springs. Both the 3d Squadron 14th Armored Cavalry (1948-72) and the 3d Squadron 11th Armored Cavalry (1972-93) Regiments were stationed at McPheeters Barracks, located to the east of downtown. There was no recognition of the fact that in April 1945 “stars gathered in Hersfeld.”
Editor’s Note: In 1988, then Major General (ret) George Patton, Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, visited Bad Hersfeld for an OPD with 3/11. While there he told me that his father had his headquarters in Bad Hersfeld and I was to figure out where, and he (MG Patton) would place a marker to commemorate the location. Through good luck we located a photo of LTG Patton standing outside of the 3/11 Headquarters building in McPheeters Barracks. On his next trip to the Regiment as Honorary Colonel, MG Patton placed a plaque commemorating the location of Third Army Headquarters in Bad Hersfeld.
The following was received from someone seeking information about his stepfather’s service. If anyone has any information, his contact details are at the end of the message.
My name is LTC Croft Edwards, and I am an Army Reserve officer. I am trying to do some research on my late stepfather, LTC (ret) Ralph B. Garretson. I have a guidon which I believe was his from Golf Troop, 11th ACR, and my stepsister has one from HHT, 11th ACR. I have tried to get a copy of his official records from HRC but I get the standard story about how they were destroyed in the fire in 70’s. I believe he commanded (or was a 1LT) in the 11th ACR in the early sixties but cannot verify that. I would like to frame the guidon(s) and would like to have as much of the story behind them as possible. Thanks in advance for any information or direction you could provide.
CROFT + Company
The “Last Patrol” commemoration is still planned to be held at Point Alpha in Germany on April 24, 2015. This is one of many celebrations going on in 2015 celebrating the 25th year of German reunification. The concept of operations for our Last Patrol celebration is a simple one-day affair with scheduled events at the OP, followed by a pay-as-you-go dinner and bar at a place TBD. Squadrons are encouraged to set up their own mini-get-togethers in the days preceding the event. We will be publishing and e-mailing self-initiated tour options to those interested in joining us that week. Over 20 former troopers have already signed up, and we are working now to come up with options for local-area hotels that are reasonably priced. Anyone with contacts on the ground in Germany or who has suggestions for lodging, please let us know. POCs for signing up or sharing information are Dave Cowan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tom Smart (email@example.com)
Saturday, October 4, 2014
1100 – ???
2850 Temple Drive
Davis, CA 95618
Everyone is welcome to join us for a casual picnic in the park. Bring something to BBQ, something to share (salad, dessert, or munchies) and your beverage of choice.
I-80 to Davis. Take the Mace Blvd exit. Go North and around bend (Mace becomes Covell Blvd). Turn Left on Monarch Ln. Take 1st right onto Temple. Park is one block ahead on left.
I-5 to Woodland, exit at Road 102 to Davis. Proceed South to Davis, approx. 8 miles. Turn left at the 1st major intersection – Covell Blvd. Go about 1 mile to Monarch Blvd, turn right, go 1 block. Turn right onto Temple. Park is 1 block ahead on left.
RSVP: Ron Krueger: 530-758-0351/cell: 530-304-4249
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