If you do NOT see the Table of Contents frame to the left of this page, then
Click here to open 'USArmyGermany' frameset

503rd Aviation Battalion
3rd Armored Division

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with the U.S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1989. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.


503rd Avn Co (19..-1963)

503rd AB(C)
(1963-1986)

A Co (Cbt Spt)

B Co (Attack)

C Co (Attack)

D Co (AVIM)

E Co

503rd AHB
(1986-1987)

2nd Bn, 227th Avn History
(1987-19..)

Related Links
503rd Avn Bn Timeline (Project)

 
503rd Aviation Company History
 

1. L-19 BIRD DOG of 503rd Avn Co, 1962 (Günter Grondstein)
 
(Source: Hanno Englaender, Germany)
Both fixed-wing as well as rotary aircraft of the Aviation Detachment, 3rd Armd Div at Bonames Army Airfield in June 1956

 
503rd Aviation Company Patch (courtesy Richard Wilder)

Fixed Wing Pltn, 503rd Avn Co Patch
(courtesy Richard Wilder)
 
1958
(Source: 3rd Armored Division, Yearbook 1958, Germany)
The 503rd Aviation Company was activated on October 1, 1957, when the Division was organized under ROCAD.

Prior to that time, 3rd Armd Div's air support was provided by twelve aviation sections scattered throughout the division area, each attached to a major command or unit. These sections were merged under ROCAD and based at Fliegerhorst Kaserne (Hanau).

The unit's duties include aerial observation, artillery fire adjustment, reconnaissance, convoy control and radio relay.


Area around the 503rd Avn Company hangar, Hanau AAF
 
1960
(Source: Email from Richard Wilder, 503rd Avn Co)

ASTA Pltn
Fliegerhorst Ksn, Hanau




1. Hanau Warriors - H-37's in background

2. U-1A Otter

3. L-23 with airfield tower in background




4. A Bird Dog of the 503rd
     

 
1963
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, May 1963)
503rd Aviation Co Becomes Battalion At Reorganization

HANAU, Germany (Special) The 3rd Armd Div's 503rd Aviation Co has been reorganized as a battalion during a review and change-of-command ceremony held here.

Lt Col James D. Davenport became the first commanding officer of the Provisional Battalion. Maj Richard E. Blanks, former 503rd CO, assumes command of the new battalion's Co B.

Davenport was division aviation officer before the battalion was formed; he retains that post as battalion commander.

Addressing the battalion and guests, Davenport expressed pleasure at being able to command another Spearhead battalion, having formerly commanded the 45th Medical Bn.

Following the ceremonies guests were shown a static display of vehicles and aircraft.
If you have more information on the history or organization of the 503rd Avn Co, 503rd Avn Bn or the 2nd Bn, 227th Avn Regiment, please contact me.

 
503rd Aviation Battalion (Cbt) History
 
503rd Aviation Battalion DI

 
MISCELLANEOUS UNIT INFORMATION

UNIT DESIGNATION

DUTY STATION COMMENTS
HSC, 503rd Avn Bn (Cbt)    
A Company    
B Company    
C Company    
D Company    
E Company    
 
VARIOUS POCKET PATCHES

Avn Co, 3rd Armd Div
Pocket Patch

503rd Avn Bn
Pocket Patch

503rd Avn Bn
Patch worn mid-1960s


189th Avn Co
Pocket Patch

2nd Bn, 227th Avn Regt
Pocket Patch



 
(Source: Email from David Hall, ASTA Pltn, 1965-66) 
 
I served as an AN/MPQ-29 radar operator in the ASTA (Aerial Surveillance and Target Acquisition) platoon of B Company, 503 Avn Bn from January 1965 to August 1966. (Webmaster Note: The ASTA Platoon performed visual, electronic and photographic reconnaissance.) 

The Aerial Surveillance and Target Acquisition platoon's function was to take photographs of selected targets.  The mobile tracking and plotting radar set had a mechanical plotting board on which a map was placed.  The plotting board would track a drone or an aircraft showing altitude while a tracking pen would trace its flight path on the board. This allowed the drone operator to take photographs when the drone was over the selected target or would allow the radar operator to instruct an aircraft pilot to turn camera on or off.  I don't remember the exact range of the radar but I believe for a drone it was about 15 miles.

The drones were small about 12 feet I think and carried a camera mounted in the belly.  When the mission was over, the drone was flown back to the radar site and a parachute was deployed to safely lower the drone and camera.
When an OV1 Mohawk was used the range was greater and could be increased by using a transponder. The pilot would fly to an area where we could easily lock onto his aircraft and victor him to the target area.  The drone or aircraft was locked onto the radar by one of two methods.  One method was called search where the radar antenna would rapidly go back and forth and up and down until it found something on which to lock.  This was sometimes difficult to do if there were several aircraft, mountains or heavy clouds.  The other method was to use special tripod mounted binoculars that were syncronized to the radar antenna.  An operator would use the binoculars to locate the drone or aircraft and could lock the radar antenna onto the them by pressing a trigger. 

In one of the photos I sent, I am operating the binoculars in such a fashion.  You can also see the drone operator on the left side of the picture.  Once the drone was out of sight he would enter the radar unit to control the drone. Once the cameras were retrieved, the photographers took over.  The cameras and film were high quality and the photographers did a great job. I was told that a camera and drone cost about $100,000.  I don't know if it was true. 

The picture of the radar set in operation was actually taken by one of the photographers holding the surveillance camera. When we went into the field we carried a lot of gear. In addition to the trucks full of drones and the two radar sets, we had to carry all the equipment to maintain the drones which had gasoline engines and wooden propellers and parachutes.  Each radar set had to have a large generator which used a jeep engine to supply power for the radar.  Each radar also had two smaller generators for communications purposes.  The photographers also had all the gear to develop the prints. 

I have several old photos and some military papers. Most of us in the ASTA platoon had received our training at the USACSTATC at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  I remember Col. Wilhelm as the Bn Cmdr and Maj. Knight as B Company Cmdr.  Our platoon leader was Lt. Trieber. 

I remember we had fixed-wing aircraft such as Beavers, Otters and our largest fixed wing aircraft was the OV-1B Mohawk.  Our rotary wing aircraft were OH1, HU1B, and H34. 

The ASTA platoon had two AN/MPQ-29 radar sets with all related equipment and many wooden propeller driven drones. We took part in several exercises with Operation Silver Talon being the most memorable. Our barracks were on the west side of "Red Square" next to the consolidated mess hall.  When my room mate and I left in August of 1966 we were the last of the radar section and turned our equipment over to a photographer.  The unit was very short handed as the Viet Nam War was drawing many resources from Europe. 

I'll be happy to look at my old record and photos for information if this is the type of material you want.  I took a few 8mm movies while on maneuvers.  I haven't tried to view them in decades but they contain images of our aircraft and drones in action.
David Hall

ASTA Pltn
Fliegerhorst Ksn, Hanau




1. Two ASTA Pltn OV1 Mohawks at the Hohenfels, October 1965

2. AN/MPQ-29 radar

3. A drone photo mission at Grafenwoehr, February 1965




4. Radar set at Hohenfels, October 1965 

5. The 503rd Avn motor pool at Fliegerhorst

6. Dave with some buddies


7. One of the ruins at the Grafenwoehr Training Area




8. Special orders (KB)

9. Leave orders (KB)

 

503rd Avn Bn
Fliegerhorst Ksn, Hanau
The following pictures are taken from old 8mm movies created by David Hall during his tour. Although some of the pics are a little fuzzy, they are of historical interest.
   

1. 503rd Avn convoy forms

2. 503rd barracks

3. Part of the airfield



4. Flight tower

5. Hqs, 503rd Avn Bn

6. Drone hangar
 

7. Airfield service vehicles

8. Hangar area

9. Hangar area


10. UH-1 Huey
     


1st Lt Kevin Scherrer, A Company, 503rd Avn Bn (Kevin Scherrer)
 

UH Pltn officers & pilots, A Company, 503rd Avn Bn (Kevin Scherrer)
 
A Company, 503rd Aviation Battalion
 
1980
(Source: Email from Kevin G. Scherrer, A Co, 1980-1982)
I served in A Co, 503rd Avn Bn, from Feb 1980 through Dec 1982. It was a fantastic assignment; I flew UH-1's and OH-58's.

(Click here to read Kevin's comments on the Hanau AAF aerial photo where he identifies the using units of some of the hangars - Hanau AAF Page)

Narrative on my time with A/503 Avn.
What follows are the (fond) memories of an old Soldier, so please accept my upfront apology to anyone I have slighted, misidentified, misspelled, or left out. I was assigned to A Company, 503rd Aviation Battalion (A/503); 3rd Armored Division (3AD) from February 1980 to December 1982. This was my first assignment out of flight school, and my first overseas. During this assignment, I served as Assistant Operations Officer (OH-58 Pilot), UH-1 Platoon Leader, and Operations Officer. I could not have asked for a more rewarding and enjoyable tour, and it set the foundation for my 27-year aviation career.

A/503 was a General Support Aviation Company (GSAC), having been cobbled together from a number of smaller aviation detachments (in 1977, I believe). It was based out of Fliegerhorst Army Airfield, north of Hanau, West Germany. It provided aviation general support to 3AD, as part of the defense of the Fulda Gap. During my tenure, A Company was commanded by MAJ John "Mike" Henry, MAJ Ed Clapp, and MAJ Gene Edwards. It consisted of 3 Flight Platoons, a Maintenance (Service) Platoon, and other smaller entities.
 

A Company Hueys over the German countryside, 1980
 
UH-1 Platoon. 15 UH-1H's. Conducted general support, VIP Support (each Division General Officer got a Huey when he wanted one), and limited airmobile operations (before they switched the term to "air assault"). I can't recall who led the platoon before me, but I had it for about 15 months, and then LT Sam Mooneyhan took over. CW3 Dick Grant was our platoon IP, and the only one with any real experience (he flew Hueys in Vietnam). Eliott Benson and Sam Mooneyhan were our LT's, and (besides me), the rest of the officers were WO1's fresh out of flight school - inexperienced, but motivated, talented, and fun to serve with. SFC Jim Avant was our gifted platoon sergeant, who mentored commissioned, warrant, and non-commissioned officers alike.

Command and Control (C&C) Platoon. 14 OH-58A's. Conducted general support.

Aeroscout Platoon. 10 OH-58A's. Conducted aeroscout missions (sometimes). I list these two (C&C Pltn & Aeroscout Pltn) together, because for a while they were combined into one, big "OH-58" Platoon, as we were critically short warrant officer pilots for most of my tour there. My flight school classmate Glenn Monrad, future astronaut Jeff Williams, and ___ LaSorte commanded the -58 platoons while I was there.

Service Platoon. 1 UH-1H. Conducted most unit maintenance. Led by CPT's Chuck Avery and Dave Bubb. A few other officers that I can recall were CPT Jack Shafer (Ops Officer) and CPT Bill Rose (XO).

Sometime during my tour, it was decided to renovate the multipurpose hangar that we shared with the Fliegerhorst gymnasium. We were displaced to the west side of the kaserne, in a section of another hangar (it may have been the simulator building). Our hangar space was dramatically reduced, and a few of our offices were now below ground, in tunnels, bomb shelters, and crawl spaces not used since the Nazis were hiding from Allied bombardment. I recall stringing extension cords for lighting, and constantly coughing because of the dirt floors. The word "primitive" comes to mind. Fortunately, the renovation didn't last too long, and we returned to our half of the gym building sometime in early 1982 (I believe).
 

SFC Jim Avant, Platoon Sergeant (middle with German beret), UH-1 Platoon, A/503 Avn
 
Two short (Cold) War stories:
I recall one field problem when a fellow pilot and I returned from a mission late at night. It was miserably cold, and we elected not to trudge through the snow all the way to the assembly area, but rather sleep in the warming tent near the aircraft. The warming tent was a GP medium with only a few cots, and one small "Yukon" stove near one of the center poles. We were the only ones there, and huddled up close to the stove inside our sleeping bags. Sometime after drifting off to sleep, we both awoke to an abnormal crackling sound. The stove was completely on fire, but neither of us wanted to leave the comfort of our fart-sacks, so we stayed cocooned as long as possible. I can't remember who lost that game of chicken and emerged to extinguish the blaze with a fire extinguisher. We were both lucky that the whole tent didn't go up.

One amusing event occurred early in my Germany tour. Our 200-man company was scheduled to change out its commander, and he directed that our Pathfinder section "STABO" in the guidon for the ceremony. It sounded like a neat idea. STABO is when a Huey or Blackhawk flies 3-4 soldiers at the end of a 100 foot rope, slung underneath the aircraft. Tactically, it's used to extract soldiers trapped in jungles and forests, but it's a fun thing to do, under the right conditions. On the day of the ceremony, our company assembled and stood at attention in front of a small audience. Then, off in the distance, came a UH-1, with something underneath it. Sure enough, it was four Pathfinders carrying the guidon. Now, while performing a STABO, the pilot has no idea how far off the ground the soldiers are. He relies on another Pathfinder, who lies on the floor of the aircraft and leans out to observe his buddies. Over the aircraft intercom system, he tells the pilot how high off the ground the soldiers are. In this particular case, it didn't go so well. As the aircraft approached and descended, the soldiers' feet hit the ground with the aircraft still doing about 20 miles per hour. They immediately started running, at which time the pilot was directed to increase altitude, which meant that the soldiers came off the ground with their legs still running at top speed. This up and down bobbing continued for a few more iterations; it was hilarious.

Some additional 503rd info:
The 503rd Aviation Battalion was comprised of the following units:
HHC/503. HQ elements. LTC Walter Yates, Commanding (would later rise to LTG Yates). Fliegerhorst Kaserne.
A/503. General Support Aviation Company. Fliegerhorst.
B/503. Attack Helicopter Company. Budingen Kaserne.
C/503. Attack Helicopter Company. Fliegerhorst.
D/503. Aviation Maintenance Company. Fliegerhorst.
SOTAS. Stand-Off Target Acquisition Section. Fliegerhorst.


Aero scouts inbound (Paul Hackerson)
 

At the East-West German border (Paul Hackerson)
 
(Source: Email from Paul Hackerson, Company A, 503rd CABV, 1981-1984)
 
A fellow pilot from Company A 503rd CAB sent me your site.  WHAT MEMORIES!
 
I served as a Scout, C & C and Maint Test Pilot at Hanau from 1981-84.

During 1980, I attended Flight School (Orange flight) and towards the end was accepted for the Scout Track.  I was fortunate not to be set back, and Orange Flight was the first class to graduate in 1981.
 
After a short leave, I deployed to Company A 503rd Combat Aviation Battalion located at Fliegerhorst Kaserne outside of Erlensee Germany, with other unit located in and around the Hanau community.
 
My time with the 503rd were probably the best years of my military career and my life.  Upon arrival, I was assigned to the Aero Scout Platoon.  We spent countless hours practicing nap of the earth flying and trying not to get into trouble. 
 
As a Scout Pilot we would fly two basic types of missions.  Around tree top level practicing our scout tactics, and down and dirty 3 to 4' off the ground.  The Pilot on the controls would not look inside the cockpit, but truly fly the aircraft.  The second pilot would monitor hazards outside the aircraft, monitor the instruments and call out commands following the map such as left turn, left turn, left turn, stop turn, right turn, right turn, follow this tree line.......  After about 2 hours we would arrive at the Forward Area Refueling Area and get hot guess.  With the aircraft running, the pilots would switch control of the aircraft, pass over the map, brief each other on future legs, and then reverse roles for the next 2 hours or so.  Although I was in my mid-20s, there were many missions that upon return I would get out of the aircraft and fall to the ground.  I would then stretch, roll my back and hips and lay there until I could walk.
 
For a short period of time I was in the Command and Control Platoon.  Glorified Cab Drivers.  I was assigned to fly the Division Artillery Commander -- Colonels Rosencranse (spelling?) and French.  Since their Kaserne was located just a few miles south of Fliegerhorst, I would make a southern departure.  To follow the airfield rules, I would pull the guts out of the OH-58 and climb nearly straight up to 1,500 feet towards the IP.  Upon reaching the IP and 1,500 feet I would call the Tower and tell them that I was at the IP outbound.  I would then literally dump the collective and do a power on auto rotation into Hutier Kaserne, landing in the parking lot and then await the Colonel to come out and climb in.
 
My final assignment was as a Maintenance Test Pilot for OH-58s.  I received in country training via CW2 Eric Hanson.  Those were some very exciting years as I had several events occur that I will always remember.

 
B Company, 503rd Aviation Battalion
 

Setting up the mobile tracking and plotting radar unit, c. 1964
 

Company "B" group photo at Grafenwoehr, c. 1964
 
1963
(Source: Email from Aneglo Fazio and Richard Smith)
  Richard W. Smith (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Div., 503rd Aviation Bn., Co. “B”, PFC E-3, 1963-1965)
Basic training Fort Ord California. Sent to Fort Huachuca, Arizona U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground for electronic training 3 mo. in 31R20-Drone Acrt. Control Sys mech. After training in Huachuca, we where given the choice of going to Europe or stay in the states. There were five or six choices in Europe, many picked Germany, and were sent to Fliegerhorst Kaserne, about 30 clicks from Frankfurt.
My job was to setup the receivers and transmitters for the surveillances drones.
   
  Angelo A. Fazio (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Div., 503rd Aviation Bn., Co. “B”, Spc. 5, 1963-1966)
Also trained in Fort Huachuca, but, was in tracking and plotting. I was an AN/MPQ-29 radar operator who setup and tracked Drones and the low flighting Mohawk twin engine aircraft.
I I was stationed in Hanau Germany at Fliegerhorst and served under Col. Davenport during the period of 1963 to April 1965. Unfortunately I am unable to locate many of my comrades of the 503rd Avn Battalion of that time period.

We are looking for old army buddies in Co. “B”. Here is a list of some of the men we are looking for. Maybe you remember others??

         
  David J. Hall   Hays   Hicks Spc. 5 (cook)
  Thomas Ivolli   Brooks   Rodregez ( Spelling)
  Clifford Richardson   Howlete   Taylor
  Loftus   Crawford Spc. 5    
  Sgt. Castro   Capt. Sterling    
  Mc Kinney   Lt. Triber    
  Peter Wigdor  

Clifford Richardson Sgt

   
  Dalimonte   Sgt. Hemiz    
  Copeland   Col Davenport    
  Griggs   Barnes    
 

Combat Surveillance School, Fort Huachuca, Arizona
 

Company "B"
Fliegerhorst Ksn, Hanau



1. U-6 BEAVER 2. Converted deuce-and-a-half
3. Howlett
 

4. Smoke break

5. Cook

6. Mobil tool van

 


7. Griggs

8. Several of the gang

9.

 


 
1980

B Company, Buedingen Airfield, 1980
 
(Source: Email from Robert McAndrews, B Co, 1979-81)
 
I was looking up my old unit that I was stationed with in Germany & I came across your website which is very informative but, I could not find any pictures of my old Company & the hangar from the time I was there.

I was stationed in Buedingen from June 1979 to Dec 1981 with B Co 503rd Avn Bn.

I just want you to know at the time that I was stationed there we took a picture of the complete Company w/ two Cobras Helicopters in the background & this picture was taken at the Air Field which I heard is closed down. The Company pictures were taken in 1979 & 1980.

I still have these photos plus many more pictures of the time w/ the 503rd.

 
C Company, 503rd Aviation Battalion
 
1979
(Source: Email from Angelo Merluccio, C Co, 503rd CAB, 1979-1981)
I served in Germany from 1979-1981 with the 3rd Armor Division, C Co.  503rd Combat Aviation Attack Helicopters as a 68G10.

I came across your web site by accident while playing with my own search technology and google. I have attached a few photos
from 1979-1981.

503rd Avn Bn
Fliegerhorst Ksn, Hanau




1. Army dispensary

2. Maint Section sign

3. 503rd CAB barracks



4. Fliegerhorst airfield

5. AH-1 Cobra

6. AH-1 Cobras lined up in front of hangar
 

7. Back of C Co, 503rd CAB hangar

8. Angelo Merluccio at Hohenfels

9. "C" Company sign


10. Looking at "C" Co hangar, Winter 1980

11. Inside the "C" Co hangar

12. Coleman AAF, Sandhofen
 

 
D Company, 503rd Aviation Battalion
 
(Source: Email from Kenneth M. Winters, Co D (AVIM), 503rd Avn Bn)
Re question on Overview Page: [1] it is possible that the 58th TAMC was actually assigned to the division's DISCOM and was not really a subordinate element of TFV. OR, the unit was originally part of TFV and then reassigned to DISCOM. Can anybody provide details? Yes. I’m CW2 (USA Retired) Ken Winters. My dates are approximate, but I should be close.

I was assigned to Co. D (AVIM), 503d Avn. Bn., as a Maint. Tech./AH-1& UH-1 Maint. Test Pilot/ and DSSA (Div. Supply Support Activity) OIC. We were removed from the 503d Avn Bn and assigned to DISCOM in approx. Feb 1986, as the 58th TAMC, as the Bn. became the 4th Bde, under the new MTOE. I remember vividly because I had to got to DISCOM in Frankfurt at 3rd Armored Div. HQ. once or twice a week for unit business.

We were not a sub-element of TFV (Task Force Viper), but we did share part of our hangar with the new TFV. Since we supported the new 4th Bde with AVIM capability, but they had no authority over us, the decision was finally made to take us out of DISCOM control and put us under the Bde. It made sense.

Then the unit became Co. I, 227th Avn. in approx. July 1987.

I retired in Sep 1986, got a European out and was in the area working, so I watched the migration. Our Commander was MAJ Thomas Dockens (now COL, USA Retired).

 
503rd Attack Helicopter Battalion History
 
(Source: Email from Daniel Sullivan)
Served as a 68M in C Company, 503rd AHB from Dec 1984 through about May 1986. Lived in old barracks near control tower. Overlooked post laundry. Had to move across the post after a little over a year because our barracks were being renovated. Best of times, worst of times.

 
Related Links:
B Company 503rd Cbt Avn Bn - Several former members of B Co in the mid 1960s have created a website for veterans of the 503rd Avn Bn. Very nice! Former members are encouraged to contact them for input and possible reunions.