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559th US Army Artillery Group
Southern European Task Force

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.



Italian Army

Italian Air Force

62nd Engr Co

19th EOD

167th Sig Co

Related Links

HHD, 559th
IT Army, IT Air Force
IT Air Force
69th Ord Co
IT Army, IT Air Force
IT Air Force
IT Army Arty
47th USAAD
IT Air Force
IT Army Arty
IT Army Arty

559th US Army Artillery Group DI
(Source:SETAF Outlook Special Orientation Issue, June 1981)
559th U.S. Army Artillery Group
Colocated with SETAF Headquarters in Vicenza is the headquarters of the 559th US Army Artillery Group.

Subordinate units at Vicenza include the 62nd Engineer Company, the 69th Ordnance Company, the 19th Ordnance Detachment and the 167th Signal Company.

Detachments of the 559th are also located in the towns of Bressanone (Brixen), Oderzo, Codogne, Longare, Conselve, Ceggia, Chioggia, Bovolone, Zelo, Monte Calvarina and Cordovado (see map).

The 559th Artillery Group provides technical advice and assistance to Italian field artillery and air defense units. Soldiers of the 559th work closely with Italian counterparts, and many of them come to know the Italian people and culture thoroughly.

(Source: STATION LIST, 31 Dec 1966)
It appears that the 31st US Army Artillery Detachment supported the 17th NIKE Sq in the 1960s.



31st US Army Arty Det Conselve supported 17° Reparto
Team 1 Conselve () supported 80th
Team 2 Chioggia () supported 81st
Team 3 Bovolone () supported 72nd
Team 4 Zelo () supported 79th
It appears that the 34th US Army Artillery Detachment supported the 16th NIKE Sq in the 1960s.



34th US Army Arty Det Ceggia supported 16° Reparto
Team 1 Ceggia () supported 57th
Team 2 Ca' Tron () supported 56th
Team 3 Cordovado () supported 58th
(no Team 4 mentioned) Monte Pizzoc (59th)
It appears that the 47th US Army Artillery Detachment supported the 7th NIKE Sq in the 1960s. However, the 47th AD Det is not mentioned in the STATION LIST for Dec 1966.

(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Jan 17 1968)
Article on the Chaplain of the 559th Arty Gp indicates that the 28th Missile Det (later USAFAD) was stationed at Portogruaro in 1968.

(Source: History of US Army Southern European Task Force (Abn), SETAF website, 2006)
USASETAF’s mission and geographical area of responsibility increased in 1972 when the command enlarged its signal support unit and took control of the 558th U.S. Army Artillery Group in Greece and the 528th USAAG in Turkey. These units had been in support of NATO since the early 1960s, along with the 559th USAAG, which had been a USASETAF unit in Italy since 1964.

(Source: Nuclear Battlefields - Global Links in the Arms Race, by William M. Arkin and Richard W. Fieldhouse, 1985)
The authors list the following US Army units in Italy that provided support to nuclear-capable artillery units and air defense (NIKE-H) units in Italy in the early 1980s:


HHD, 559th US Army Arty Group Vicenza
62nd Engr Co (ADM) Vicenza
69th Ord Co (GS) Longare
11th USAFAD Sciaves (Bressanone) supported 8-inch howitzer unit
12th USAFAD Oderzo supported LANCE missile unit
29th USAFAD (2) Codogne supported LANCE missile unit
34th USAAD Conselve supported NIKE-H unit (1)
40th USAAD Chioggia supported NIKE-H unit
41st USAAD Bovolone supported NIKE-H unit
44th USAAD Zelo supported NIKE-H unit
47th USAAD Monte Calvarina supported NIKE-H unit
87th USAAD Ca' Tron supported NIKE-H unit
(1) also mentioned: Cordovado (Team 2); Ceggia (Team 3)
(2) should this be: 28th USAFAD?
Other related information mentioned in the book:

Nuclear warheads stored at Longare (Site Pluto) include: for US use -- 24 ADMs & 50 155mm artillery shells; for Italian use: 60 Nike Herc warheads; 42 LANCE warheads; 29 8-inch artillery warheads.

Tonezza del Cimone LA site (a.k.a. Passo Coe) (YouTube)
A ceremony was held early October 2010 to open to the public a "memorial park" at the former launcher area of Passo Coe (known under its codename as "Thunder" base) near Folgaria, Italy (in the province of Trento, north of Verona). The base was activated in 1966 and closed in 1978.

Alpha Section - with three NIKE-H missiles - is being maintained as a museum and historical memorial of the Cold War and will be used to explain the operations of a missile air defense base and its role during the Cold War period. It is open to visitors but check with park officials first.

For more information http://www.parcomemoria.it/ (in italian only).

Contact the webmaster if you have questions.

(Source: 6th Aviation Company Lineage)

The 110th Aviation Surveillance Company was located in Verona, Italy until 1 April 1971. On the date, it was reduced and relocated to Dal Molin Airport, Vicenza, Italy under new colors and redesignated the 6th Aviation Detachment. In March of 1993 it was renamed the 6th Aviation Company.

The mission of the 6th Aviation Company has been to support the Southern European Task Force with its many missions throughout Europe, northwest Asian and North Africa. Until 1991, a platoon was located in Athens, Greece in support of the 558th Artillery Group. This means that the 6th probably also provided aviation support to the 559th Artillery Group in Vicenza.

11th Missile Detachment (11th USAFAD)

Caserma "Ruazzi" at Elvas (Bressanone), home of the 11th USAFAD (Google Maps)

Recent photo of former Site RIGEL. Photo taken by Luca Lorenzi in March 2004

Site RIGEL - the 11th's SAS site near Naz-Sciaves, north of Bressanone (Google Maps)
Site RIGEL: Former Special Ammo Storage site located in the Italian Alps at Naz-Sciaves (Bressanone - "Brixen" in German). "Rigel" was the codename for a nuclear NATO warhead storage site for the Italian IV Corps artillery (headquarters in Bolzano). The depot stored nuclear Honest John warheads and 8-inch shells (1967-1988). The storage site was under the supervision of a US Army warhead custodial unit, the 11th US Army Field Artillery Detachment, which was subordinate to the 559th US Army Artillery Group in Vicenza. 

The 11th was stationed at Caserma Giovanni Ruazzi in nearby Elvas.


Caserma "Ruazzi", Elvas (Italian Army veterans page on Facebook)

HONEST JOHN launchers at Caserma "Ruazzi" (Italian Army veterans page on Facebook)
Veterans of the Italian artillery unit supported by the 11th MSL Det/11th USAFAD and support units stationed at Caserma Ruazzi near Bressanone have started a Facebook page at link. Lots of interesting photos from then and now.

12th Missile Detachment (12th USAFAD)

Caserma "Zanusso" at Oderzo, home of the 12th USAFAD (Google Maps)

Caserma "Maset" at Codognè, home to part of the 12th USAFAD (Google Maps)

Site ALGOL - the 12th's SAS site near Palù di Orsago, north of Codognè (Google Maps)
Site ALGOL: Former Special Ammo Storage site located at Palu di Orsago, north of Codognè. "Algol" was the codename for a nuclear NATO warhead storage site for the 3rd Italian Missile Brigade. The depot initially stored nuclear Honest John warheads and later Lance nuclear earheads, when the HJ was replaced by the Lance (1979-1992). The storage site was under the supervision of a US Army warhead custodial unit, the 12th US Army Field Artillery Detachment, which was subordinate to the 559th US Army Artillery Group in Vicenza. 

The 12th was split between two sites, with Missile Team 2 stationed at Caserma Pietro Maset in nearby Codognè and the Missile Team 1 at Caserma Zanusso in Oderzo.

The 3rd Italian Artillery Regiment had its headquarters at Caserme Zanusson, Oderzo.

28th Missile Detachment (28th USAFAD)

Caserma "Capitò" with adjacent US compound at Portogruaro (Google Maps)

Former 28th MSL Det compound at Portogruaro (Google Maps)
(Source: Email from William J. Goetz, 28th MSL Det, 1969-71)
I was looking at the webpage for the 559th Artillery Group and noticed that the 28th Missile Detachment has a small blurb that it was in Portoguaro in 1968. I know it was there a number of year later also.

I was a Team Leader for a 8" howitzer team and later an Honest John team in the 28th Missile Detachment in Portoguaro, Italy. I was there from March 26, 1969 through March 22, 1971. I was a 2nd Lt. when I got there and left as a Capt. Not sure when they shut it down or moved it, but there was not any talk of any move before I left so I would think it was still there for a few more years.

We just called our barracks area Portoguaro. Our installation was right next to a large Italian installation (Webmaster note: Caserma "Capitò") .

We had one 8" team and two Honest John teams. If I remember correctly there were seven other sites close to us. Some were artillery like us and others were NIKE sites. Because Portogruaro was one of the bigger cities around, a lot of the officers and senior NCOs from the nearby sites live in Portogruaro.

Site CASTOR - the 28th's SAS site near Teglio Veneto (Google Maps)
Our weapons storage site was a few miles further down the road from Portogruaro. The area at the bottom of the Site CASTOR image above does look like our storage site. We had a guard house and two Igloos where the weapons were stored. It pretty much looks the same.

We had about 34 personal assigned to the detachment. Most of the time we had 4 officers: the CO and 3 team leaders. We also had, I think, a 6 or 7-person Air Force communication team assigned to us for our backup communications. Their work area was a small building next to our detachment headquarters building.

We were one of the show sites. I think it was because of our closeness to Venice. They would helicopter congressmen and high ranking officers to our detachment and we would give them a couple hour briefing and tour of the facility, usually in the morning, and then cars with their wives would show up to take them to Venice.

The site layout was as follows:

Building 1 - I think that is where the Air Force communications center was.
Building 2 - Detachment HQ
Building 3 - Don't remember this one. Could have been storage if it was even there.
Building 4 - Mess Hall with rec room. I remember it being connected to Building 5
Building 5 - Enlisted men's rooms. The back section was also a meeting room (movies, etc)

I don't think area above Building 5 was part of our installation. We could not drive back there, I am pretty sure there was a fence there. We did have a basketball net but it was in the parking lot and we only could play half court.

And the gate ("G" on the image) was at the end of the road coming in. There appears to be a gate now just above where the compound gate was and it looks like it is going into the Italian installation. We could not get into the Italian installation from our installation. We had to go back out to the main road and go into the Italian's installation from the main road. We got to our installation by going on a road off the main road behind a residence and then into our installation. The field there to the left was where the helicopters would land when bringing guests and we used it for football when we had R&R. That is where I did my knee in and eventually had a knee operation just before going to Vietnam. I was the R&R officer.

Just thought I would pass this info along.

Related Links:

  MC-DF's photostream - NIKE sites in Italy - a FLICKR page with lots of great photos of the various Nike sites formerly supported by the 559th USAAG in Italy. (Submitted by Marco Colliva, Italy, via Tom Page from the Radar Museum Website.  
  Nike Missile Forum "Guardiano Silenzioso" - an Italian forum on the NIKE misile system and its operations in Italy.  
  3a Brigata missile "Aquilea" - Wikipedia - an excellent presentation of the Italian Army's 3rd Missile Brigade, integral part of SETAF. Lots of details! (All in italian language)