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1980 REFORGER Certain Rampart – Galerie Mertz

Certain Rampart with the 2nd ACR

When I served in the 2nd ACR we were still a heavy cavalry regiment. Each squadron had 3 cav troops with 12 tanks and 12 scout vehicles per troop, though there may have been more scout vehicles, as well as 120mm mortar tracks. H Company, Second Squadron, which I was part of as platoon leader of the 1st Platoon, had 17 tanks, 5 per platoon and two in the headquarters company. The Howitzer batter had 6 155 howitzers. Of course there were the usual support tracks, trucks, etc. There were three of these squadrons, as well as the Air Cav Squadron with Cobra and and Kiowa helicopters and some Hueys. We were part of 7th Corps, which was a heavy corps and defended the southern half of Germany from the Soviets. Our real world mission was border patrol, which we accomplished out of Hof, but our home station was Bamberg.

We were still using the M60-A1 (rise/passive) tanks with a V-12 engine, optical range finder and spotlights. This was right before the regiment got the M-1 Abrams. The scout tracks were M113’s accompanied by open top gun jeeps.

Reforger was the biggest single peacetime exercise in Europe and units from many countries, as well as US Army, Air Force, Marine and Navy personnel participated, including National Guard and Reserve units. In fact, without the National Guard and Reserve units, the whole operation would have been undoable. We were a key part of the “war plan” for this reforger.

We started out north of the Danube river and then played along as we “delayed” the enemy, crossing the Danube. We had a big fight on a ridge overlooking a valley, with the red army attacking us. My platoon was assigned a small hardball road coming out of woods up a steep hill. We set up “hull down” behind large manure piles close enough to cover the road coming up and the woodline. Scouts from the cav troops were stationed to spot and report the encroachment of the infantry that were attacking us. We were informed that they were coming up the hill and then, using out superior sights, we spotted them in the woodline. I had one section take them under fire and my section charged them, routing them and sending them back down the hill.

Subsequently we retreated as in the battle plan we were planned to. The original plan was to cross using Bailey Bridges (pontoon bridges), but to our relief we crossed real bridges, as the Danube was at flood stage and too dangerous to cross on the fragile pontoons.

We now were south of a water barrier, but the enemy blew past it and we hunkered down for the night. During the night our scouts found an unguarded overpass over the autobahn that formed the enemy’s front line. They literally drove through the enemy lines. The fog helped. The next morning, just as the sun started to rise in the east and the heavy fog still shrouded the fields, we crossed the overpass, all 17 tanks of H Company, my tank in the lead, and moved north through their lines. No shots were fired. We spread out in a classic V formation, two platoons up, one back and drove across the undefended enemy interior. I still remember my commander in his jeep driving next to me, smiling as we charged into the fog. His tank had radio problems, so he had jumped into his command jeep.

We encountered only soft targets at first, including MLRS batteries and headquarters and logistic units, with the predictable result of their destruction. Finally we were too far ahead of the main body of the Corps and ordered to stop. We ended up in another field with more manure piles and set up a quick defensive position facing a railroad embankment and a clear field of fire. To our right a road crossed the railroad through a small town. As the sun was fully up I was scanning the horizon. Looking to my right on the road, was a reinforced company, maybe a battalion, of French AMX tanks (at least that is how I saw them). We wheeled into position (we had not been spotted in our hull down positions about a kilometer away) and took them under fire. I also called indirect fire on them. Our fire was so effective the umpires sent the entire assemblage (still on the road, by the way) back across the railroad.

They were not done with us, though and we were subsequently knocked out by a pair of A-10 Warthogs, some pictures of which you can see. That pretty much ended the exercise for us.

Seems like yesterday sometimes.


Lars de Vries

Lars de Vries

Kind des "Kalten Krieges". Viele Manöver des "Kalten Krieges" prägten mich in der Kindheit und Jugend und waren der Ursprung zu dieser Webseite!
Lars de Vries

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Lars de Vries

Kind des "Kalten Krieges". Viele Manöver des "Kalten Krieges" prägten mich in der Kindheit und Jugend und waren der Ursprung zu dieser Webseite!

3 Kommentare

  1. 3
    Lars de Vries

    Hi Lance,

    an incredibly great article. Not only the pictures, also the text is first class. Wonderful time documents … thank you very much.

    Greetings from Lower Saxony

  2. 2
    Guenther H.

    Da Varreck…hätt nicht für möglich gehalt, das ich nochmal Bilder seh, die den “Solier Bickel” zeigen, als es da wuselte vor Amis( Burgsalach “Büchelberg”) heute steht da ein Funkturm,aber damals, war da da “Teifel” los wie man sehen kann.
    14 Tage vor Übungsbeginn war dort schon alles gespickt, mit U.s.Einheiten, unschwer zu erkennen , das es größtenteils Funker waren…unvergessen bleibt auch die riesige Kolonne von M60ern die von Oberhochstatt her anrollten, nach dem man Tagelang in Weißenburg Panzer ausgeladen wurden, …die Signals waren ruckzuck vergessen…

    Gruß
    Günther

  3. 1
    Guenther H.

    Hi Mr.Mertz

    Thank’s für this great Pictures from one of the greatest Manuvers in my Life…back then, i was 12 yerars old and it was hard Times, form my Teachers, if the M60ten “Roaring” . No Way from classes, in that Moments…after School, we are at the Troops from U.S.Army, Canadien Forces,an Bundeswehr…This was great Times , an they stay unvergotten in my Memorys!

    BiG THANK YOU FOR POINTING!

    Greetings Günther

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