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Southern European Task Force
SETAF Installations

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.


Page 1

Camp Darby

Caserma Ederle

Caserma Passalacqua

Boscomantico AAF

Site Pluto

Lake Garda Rec Area

Verona Storage Point

Remote Sites







 
History of SETAF Installations
1956
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Sep 1, 1956)
Italy Construction Saving $16 Million.
SETAF Employs the Economy for the Sake of Economy

VERONA, Italy, Aug. 31 (Special) -- SETAF's engineers, working with the local Office of the Joint Construction Agency, are saving American taxpayers an estimated $16 million in construction costs for U.S. Army facilities here.

A free rein in dealing with the immediate market and reversion to rehabilitation, where possible, are effecting the hugs savings.

The $16 million represents the difference between SETAF's authorlzed expenditures for construction -- $27 million -- and the amount actually being spent.

Three modern Army installations are being constructed in the Veneto region of northern Italy. The work is "reconstruction," in part, since the new camps will be located on the grounds of ancient Italian "casermas" and will carry the names of their forerunners, Casermas Chinotto and Ederle in Vicenza will be the home of many SETAF troops, while SETAF Hq and most staff sections will be located In Verona's Caserma Passalacqua.

The construction-rehabilitation projects are contracted to local firms. Billions of Italian lire are pouring into the regional economy since the entire corps of laborers and all materials come from the local market.

At the time of SETAF's activation in October 1955, the Department of the Army authorized $27 million for the construction of SETAF Hq and the three installations. This figure included costs which were to be spread over two fiscal years, 1956 and 1957.

Even before the Joint Construction Agency could organize the letting of contracts, members of the 532nd Engr Co in Vicenza picked up their hammers and went to work. Such initiative on the part of all members of the command has characterized the rapid and economical progress already made.

Initial construction and rehabilitation were temporarily halted last winter because of heavy snow and cold weather. Work commenced again in early spring and has continued at full speed through the summer. Early operatlons completed included the SETAF Hq building and the post theater. Before long many other buildings and roads will receive their finishing touches

Early September
Estimated completion dates include early September for the two enlisted men billets and the dlspensary at Passalacqua. Rehabilitation of the dependent school in Vicenza is also due to be completed in September, just before the fall term starts. Central heating in all buildings is due to become operational on or about Nov. 1.


Construction of a quartermaster gas station, laundry, bakery and cold storage plant should be start ed soon. The EM and Officer messes and a permanent bachelor officers quarters also are in the planning stage. Later, a flight strip near Passalacqua and additional post exchange facilities and crafts and entertainment shops will fill the schedule. Even a half-mile railroad track will be laid, connecting the Verona casern with the Italian lines.

Comparable costs of construction -- using the most economical local material which meets structural and functional requirements -- for the U.S. and Italy shows that a large saving can be made by using Italian-produced material.

 
Camp Darby, Livorno
(Source: Livorno Site Information, DoD SITES)
In June of 1951, The United States and Italy concluded negotiations to establish a line of communication and supply through Italy, in support of troops in Austria. Tnder the agreement, Italy provided the land and the United States began construction of a military post, a general depot and a port which were to be the basic facilities for the logistical command.

The military complex, located between Pisa and Livorno, waw formerly dedicated on 15 November 1952.

It was named Camp Darby in memory of Brig Gen William O. Darby, Assistant Division Commander of the 10th Mountain Division, who was killed in action on 30 April 1945 in Trento, Italy.

Since its establishment. Camp Darby has served successively for the
7656th Logistical Command, the 7617th USFA Support Command, USA Logistical Command (sic), 8th Support Group, and currently the 22nd Area Support Group.

As US occupation forces in Austria were withdrawn after the Austrian State Treaty was signed in 1955, Camp Darby was the base for the removal of soldiers, equipment and supplies from Austria.

With Austria neutral, northern Italy’s eastern flank became vulnerable to attack. To reduce the danger in that area, the U.S. agreed to establish a force there; and, on October 25, 1955, the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force was activated. USASETAF’s first headquarters was on Camp Darby, but the largest number of soldiers has always been in Vicenza. Shortly after activation, USASETAF moved the headquarters to Verona, to Caserma Passalacqua. Troop strength reached 10,000, and USASETAF was formally established with a U.S.-Italian agreement.

 
1966
(Source: Welcome to SETAF - Special Edition (Fall-Winter 1966), The Dispatch)

Caserma Ederle, Vicenza
1966
(Source: Welcome to SETAF - Special Edition (Fall-Winter 1966), The Dispatch)

Caserma Passalacqua, Verona

Bird's Eye View of former Camp Passalacqua, Verona (Bing)
1958
Can anybody provide more details on locations of US and NATO facilities in and around Verona, incl. installation maps, photos, etc.? Also interested in location of the recreation facility (beach) on Lake Garda that was reserved for US use in the 1960s.
(Source: Email from Malcolm Comeaux)
You asked that I send you photos of Passalaqua. I have only two. The first one was taken in the summer of 1958, when Passalaqua was a U.S. Army base. The second one was taken in the summer of 1997.  At that time (1997) the Italian military used the right side as you entered the gates, and on the left side was the University of Verona. ( )


(Also read Malcolm's email regarding Boscomantico Airfield.)

Cas. Passalacqua

 

1. Main Gate, 1958

2. Former main gate, 1997



(Source: Email from William Hansen, 98th Sig Bn and 202nd Trans Co (Lt Hel))

Cas. Passalacqua

 

1. Visit of Gen. Daley and his staff, 1959

2. Visit of Gen. Daley and his staff, 1959



1962
(Source: Email from John Browning, 163rd MI Bn, 1962-64)
I was stationed at Camp Passalacqua in Verona, Italy from Feb. 1962 to Sept. 1964. My unit was the 163d Military Intelligence Battalion, which morphed into the 430th MI Detachment during my stay.

I kept a diary during my growing-up years, and in 2002 I published a book named "Flint Hill" which was basically an autobiography covering the first 24 years of my life. About one-third of the book (which, believe it or not, is 1800+ pages long) dealt with my three-year Army enlistment, most of which was spent at Camp Passalacqua. Anyone interested in reading my book can contact me. It's listed on AMAZON.COM., among other places.

I note that you're looking for further info on the "former American beach" on Lake Garda. When I was there, the Officers' Rec Center was located in the village of Lazise
( ), while the EM Rec Center was in the nearby village of Cisano ( ). My unit held its annual unit picnic at the EM Rec Center, and as a lower-ranking EM I was usually "volunteered" to drive a truck which carried the picnic supplies. (We EM also had to clean up the site afterwards, before leaving for home.) When left to our own devices, we EM usually visited a beach in the town of Garda.
John Browning

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
I was an enlisted man stationed at Camp Passalacqua in Verona, Italy from Feb. 1962 through Sept. 1964. My unit was the 163d Military Intelligence Battalion, which was "downsized" into the 530th MI Detachment during my tour of duty there.

Other units at Passalacqua included
Headquarters Company, 560th Signal Battalion, 68th MP Company, and 57th Army Postal Unit.

At the army airfield at Boscomantico, several miles outside the city, were 110th Aviation, 17th Transportation, and an Air Force unit, 5th ATAF.

The facilities at Passalacqua included a PX, snack bar, library, commissary, Class VI store, and movie theater. Those poor guys stationed at Boscomantico had to ride military buses into Passalacqua to use these services.

Most units fielded teams in softball, basketball, volleyball, and football which competed against one another. At the end of each sports season, there were playoffs to determine the post champion, which went on to compete against the champions of Camp Ederle and Camp Darby for the SETAF championship. Other recreational activities included the alerts which were called each month, and the "field problems," which came up every three months and lasted about a week.

One of my most vivid memories of Verona is of the dense fogs which would roll in, suddenly and unexpectedly, usually in the fall and winter. I recall once walking from our barracks to the snack bar on a perfectly clear night, and by the time I finished my snack and left, the fog had rolled in, and I got lost in the parking lot between the snack bar and barracks. A running joke was that you could go to the latrine on a sunny day, and by the time you finished and came out, the fog would be so thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face.

(Webmaster note: Can anybody locate the exact locations of the two American Rec Centers/beaches at Lazise and Cisano?)

1965
(Source: SETAF Dispatch, Oct 26, 1965)

Cas. Passalacqua

 

1. Armed Forces Day



Boscomantico AAF, Verona
1958
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Sept 2, 1958)
A joint Italian-American ceremony marked the opening of the 3,300-foot runway at the new airport at Boscomantico.

The SETAF airfield, which will cost $372,000 when completed, will be used by the US Army and by the Verona Aero Club.

(Source: Email from Malcolm Comeaux)

I was stationed at Boscomantico ( ) from December 1957 to March 1960.

Bosco had been an Italian base as far back as WWI (when they were our allies), and it was a military base in WWII. I was told that it was the Black air group, the Tuskegee Airmen, who bombed the hell out of the place. Little was standing after the war.

When I went to Bosco (Dec. 1957) I was assigned to the 70th Transportation Detachment. The unit had been in Innsbruck, and had moved down the year before (Austria was demilitarized in 1955, and it took a while for the Americans, Russians, French and British to leave). There was nothing there, so they had outhouses (which were still standing when I arrived). But, by the time I arrived the Army had built a temporary water tower of fabric on top of the mound behind the quanset huts (the old ammo dump), and there was water for flushing toilets. For well over a year we had to go to Passlacqua to take showers, and a shuttle bus ran back and forth.

Some time after May, 1958, the unit changed to become the 522nd Transportation Company. While attached to some unit in Turkey, few people got promotions. I was told by the company clerk (I think at the time it was Richard J. Keating) that it was because they used all promotions there, and sent us what was left over. The 522nd ceased to exist on June 25th, 1959.

At that time the 17th Transportation Detachment was established. I don't know from where the name came. It remained the 17th when it was moved to Vicenza (when I do not know).

In the early 1970s the 1st Battalion of the 509th Airborne was stationed at Bosco.

I was told the base closed in 1975, but I found someone claiming to be there with the Army as late as 1979. So a mystery there.


Boscomantico AAF, 1958


Buildings ID'ed
 
In this scene, three large warehouse-type buildings (1) have replaced the Jamesways used in 1957 as barracks. I first lived in a Jamesway, then in the middle Quonset hut, and then moved to the middle warehouse.

My unit (originally the 70th Transportation Detachment, at the time of this photo it was the 522nd Transp. Company, and later it became the 17th Transp. Detachment) used the three Quonset huts (2) in the foreground. The 202nd Transportation Company used the three Quonset huts (3) in the background, as well as the two Jamesways across the street from them and the two structures to the right of the mess hall. They also used the white building (4) beyond the three warehouse-type buildings. When this photo was taken there was no sidewalk in front of the Quonset huts or across the street. Prior to this we had pallets that were used as a sidewalk, and in this phase of construction a concrete sidewalk was poured.

The mess hall (5) is the long building in the upper left. The dark-colored extension of the mess hall to the far left was the new “day room.” Our unit and the 202nd used this mess hall.

Between the Quonset huts is the latrine (6). The water tower on the dirt mound (7) behind the latrine was the source of the water pressure for the lavatories and toilets. (I think the dirt mound was an ammo dump, but I knew of nothing ever stored there.) The dark pipe exiting on the left ran to the latrines, and the smaller white pipe going up the hill to the tower was the water intake. At the time this photo was taken, the latrine is being expanded, doubling its size, with the new portion near the camera, and to be used exclusively by our unit (with the 202nd using the other half).
When this photo was taken, there is also an addition being built to the rear of the latrine -- that was to be our shower area. To provide water pressure for the showers, a large water tower was soon built behind and to the right of the mess hall (about where a bomb crater is seen), along the edge of the river terrace, and as far from the runway as possible. Until the water tower was completed, we had to go into Verona to Passalaqua to take showers.

The large tent (8) at the lower right, surrounded by black, was the motor pool. A motor pool building is being built to the right of the tent. The motor pool had nice facilities before a hanger was built.

There are three tents (9) seen in the immediate foreground. The second from the left held specialized tools for working on aircraft, and one night in the winter of 1959 there was a spectacular blaze when it burned to the ground, and all the tools were lost. One man from my unit lived in the tent, but he got out safely.

Two Jamesways (10) are seen on the left and behind the large buildings. The first was our “day room” and it held a piano, a pool table, a refrigerator, and a few chairs. When Capt. Reese told us to load the piano in a deuce-and-a-half and take it to the dump, we instead took it to a local bar we called “mamas” and placed it in the basement. It may still be there.

The main road to the base came in from the upper right, near where the cars are parked..

Asiago crash

 

1.

2.

3.


4.

5. 522nd Trans Co, 1959

   

(Source: Email from William Chakeres, US Army Avn Det & 70th Trans Det, 1957-58)
I understand your interested in obtaining additional information regarding the "American Beach", which was located in a rented millionaires villa, in Cisano on Lake Garda. I was stationed with the "US Aviation Detachment" at that time -- housed in Castelnuovo which is halfway between Verona and the lake. Our aircraft were maintained at Villa-Franca airport which now serves Verona. We later moved from Castelnuova to Boscomantico, where we were re-assigned as the 70th Transportation Det.

I have some pictures taken at the lake along with a copy of the orders reassigning our unit as the 70th. There were approximately 35 of us in the unit, when the orders were cut on 11/26/57.

70th Trans Det
Boscomantico AAF

 

1. Flight line, 1957

2. AAF, 1957

3. Shop van


4. Castelnuova

5. SO #258
   
       

EM R&R Center
Cisano, Lake Garda

 

1. American beach, Lake Garda
     

(Source: Email from William Hansen, 98th Sig Bn and 202nd Trans Co (Lt Hel))
I was stationed in Verona, Italy, in 1958 - late 1959 with the 98th Signal Battalion, Camp Passalacqua, Verona, and then at Boscomantico Airport with the 202nd Army Aviation and Transportation Co. I have many photos of Campo Passalacqua and Boscomantico Airport, also all the aircraft that we used and old pix of the airport and pix of the airport after it was modified.

Boscomantico AAF

 

1. Aerial view of airfield (KB)

2. North side of airfield (KB)

3. New portable airfield tower (KB)


4. Airshow 1959 (KB)

5. L-23 liaison plane (KB)

6. U-1A tactical transport plane (KB)
 

7. L-16 reconnaissance plane (KB)

8. H-34 helicopter (KB)

9. (KB)
 

10. H-34 equipment (KB)

11. PFC William Hansen and Sgt Otis Stocking (KB)

12. An H-34 gets ready to airlift a small Italian plane (KB)
 

13. War games near Belluno, 1959 (KB)


 

1960
(Source: Email from Dave Anderson, 110th Avn Co, 1960-62)
I see you have an e-mail posted by a Richard Young. While I didn't remember him our paths on the post must have crossed a number of times.

I was stationed in Boscomantico from 1960-1962. When I got shipped to Italy, they weren't sure where I belonged. Went to Verona for about a week and then they sent me to Camp Ederle, Vicenza. I was assigned to the 110th Aviation Company. Spent a couple of months there and then the entire unit was sent to Boscomantico where we joined the 202nd Transportation Company. They built a new barracks building and we were the first to occupy - very nice. Had a mess hall and snack place on the first floor and a PX and barbershop in building right next door, but most facilities were at Camp Passalaqua in Verona, which was the major post for SETAF then.

Eventually the two companies merged to form the 1st Combat Aviation Company (Provisional) and was that way when I left. Since I worked in the Orderly Room with usually late hours I often couldn't make the hourly bus that went to main post at 5PM and took an hour getting there. So I spent a lot of time at the Italian Aeroclub across the runway. We shared the airfield with them. Had a small bar there, probably enough for 6, and was run by a German girl, Honey, and her assistant was an Italian girl with a name sounding like Ume. Honey was was married to an Italian and lived right behind the club.

I was there when "Barabbas" (Anthony Quinn) was being filmed. Only remember one soldier, SP4 Gentile from the Recon Platoon who worked on that move as an extra. He was probably the best looking of the soldiers at the post. I met Aldo Ray at the PX in Passalaqua.

My 1st Sgt Anger also married an Italian girl from Verona -- a nurse. Best wedding reception I ever attended -- three complete courses and much wine.
Attending the opera at the Arena was among the most memorable experiences of my life.

We had an Enlisted Men's recreation area at Lago de Garda where we went frequently in season and rode the airboats on the Lake to Riva del Garda.

Years later, one of my nephews, Career Army, became Commander of the post at Vicenza. Don't remember exactly when but must have been in the late 1990's. He told me then that Camp Passalaqua had only a minor role and he didn't even know about Boscomantico airport so guess somewhere along the way the U.S. Military pulled out.

(Webmaster note: I am looking for more details about the former American beach on Lago di Garda. I know that it was in use at east in the 1950s and early 1960s. Went there several times as an Army brat. But don't know where exactly it was located.)

(Source: Email from Richard Young, Det 1, 7th WS, Boscomantico)
I was stationed in Boscomantico from Oct 1961 to Feb 1965.  I was in the USAF, Detachment 1, 7th Weather Squadron, a small detachment of the Air Weather Service assigned to provide weather support  for the Army aircraft (U1A's and Hueys primarily) that flew from Bosco.

I came to know a lot of Army guys along with the guys in my own unit.  Being single (I was just 19, wide-eyed and clueless when I got there) I lived in the barracks, a two story building with the mess hall in one end and a snack bar in the other with a day room across the hall from it.

The Army post commander was Major Gilroy, though I think he rotated out before I left.  I don't remember who his replacement was.  Our Air Force commander was first a Major Grisham, and he was replaced with a Major Stein.
 
A few of the army personnel that I can recall were Tom McNally (he was an air traffic controller and my pinochle partner), Sam McGill ( air craft maintenance), 'Lucky' Gorham (I remember he was from Texas, as was Sam McGill), Steve "Schlermie" Schulman from NYC who would get a big kosher sausage stick from home every Christmas, and Johnny Kidd from Georgia.  Many other faces are fixed in my memory, but the names elude me.
 
Some guys in my unit were George Gall from MI, Roland Bremer from Louisiana, Sterling Nicholson who used to rave about the great duty at Myrtle Beach, Joe Markham from Virginia, Ray Howell from D.C.,  et. al.
  
We would work 2 days in the station and 2 days in the tower, unless extraordinary circumstances required otherwise, as when the Vaijonte dam disaster occurred and choppers from Bosco flew rescue missions.

There is a picture on your website that shows the "new" portable control tower.  We took our weather observations from that tower - I recognize it - until they put in a new permanent tower about 40 feet high.

There was a civilian bar called the Aero Club across the runway where we would often go.  A pretty German blonde we called 'Honey" and her Italian husband whose name I never knew ran the place. Many a G.I. went reeling across the runway back to the barracks from that place after a night of indulgence.
  
I'd like to get in touch with anyone who might have been there during my hitch. The only reason anyone might remember me was that I was, as I said, in the Air Force. We Air Force guys were, you might say, 'the turd in the punch bowl' and thereby, perhaps in someway, remembered.  If you can suggest any way for me to find any of the Bosco guys, I would appreciate it. thanks.


Dave Dinges, 17th Trans Det (AAR), Bosco Airfield, 1968
1968
17th Transportation Detachment (AAR) Patch (courtesy David W. Dinges, Jr.)
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 16, 1968)
17th Transportation Detachment (Army Aviation Repair)

The 17th Trans Co is located at Boscomatico AAF, near Verona, Italy. CO of the unit is Capt Robert E. Fear.

The 17th provides maintenance support to all aircraft assigned to SETAF as well as any aircraft belonging to Military Assistance Groups located in Iran, Turkey, Greece, Ethiopia and the Republic of the Congo. This includes recovery of disabled planes and helicopters.

The unit operates one fixed-wing plane, a U-6A BEAVER, that is utilized for hauling repair parts and to transport personnel to and from machine shops. Three of the unit's officers are pilots.

Lake Garda Rec Area, Verona
1956
(Source: Email from Chet Gillis)

I stumbled on the website and have many great memories of Verona and the lake. I also have many slides of Cisano, Peschiera, Verona the Campo and have returned to visit twice, once in 1999 and then again in 2002.

I have friends in Peschiera that owned the Albergo Milano and visit with them and stay at her cousins hotel on the lake. The second trip back we went with a couple from Michigan, Frank Lenox and his wife. Frank was at Passalaqua when I arrived, he had moved down from Austria after the base closed there. Frank passed away a couple of years ago with cancer. I still remain in touch with his wife and family.

The gardens at Cisano were manicured when I was there in 56/57, they were a run down mess when I visited there in 2002. When I was stationed there, we had a Riva mahogany speed boat to water ski behind daily. The overnights cost 50 cents and the beer 15 cents a can, the mixed drinks were fifty cents.

I worked in the com center on the top floor of SETAF headquarters as a teletype trick chief operator/repairman. We worked two twelve-hour days twice with two days off for each shift and then a three day twelve on twelve off and three days off. We spent much of the off time at Cisano and Venice/Lido in the summer. Winter months were spent in Milano and skiing in Cortina or drinking Verona dry..

I think you could call it a year and half in paradise.


1966
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Aug 8, 1966)
SETAF offers recreation areas at Lake Garda and Leghorn (Livorno).

Lake Garda, near Verona, has an officers' recreation area at Lazise and an enlisted men's area at Cisano. Leghorn has a beach for all ranks. All offer sumer recreation at no cost.

European Exchange System (EES) snack bars sell beer, ice, soft drinks, steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs. The Lake Garda areas have villas and at Cisano single enlisted men may have free rooms. At Lazise officers and their families may obtain rooms at low cost.

The SETAF recreation areas open May 29 and are scheduled tentatively to close Sept. 11.

(See
email from William Chakeres, US Army Avn Det & 70th Trans Det, 1957-58, for a photo of the enlisted men's villa at Cisano in the late 1950s)

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