Andre Whiteley: My memories of Lechfeld:
In May , 1966 , I was notified of my assignment to Lager Lechfeld as a munitions officer. I was told that I would supervise the munitions maintenance section in a nuclear weapons custodial detachment. In August, 1966, I arrived at Rhine-Main AFB and transferred to a train for my trip to Augsburg and then on to Lechfeld. Major James Cavenee was the commander of our organization…Detachment 29, 7232 Munitions Maintenance Group (MMG). Our headquarters was at Ramstein AFB. Maj Cavenee had been at Lechfeld for several months prior to my arrival. The officers had rooms in the BOQ. About 6 months later our families joined us when the housing area construction was finished. We were able to use the US Army PX, Officer’s Club, hospital and commissary in Augsburg.
Our mission was to maintain and load fully functional nuclear weapons for JaboG 32 to be used in their wartime mission. We were to provide US custody of the weapons and then to release the weapons to the German pilots on duty in the QRA when authorized by SACEUR. The safe with the classified release authentication codes was located in the QRA shelter next to the loaded alert A/C. Each USAF ADO would be on QRA alert duty about one day per week.
We had approximately 75 USAF personnel assigned to our detachment. There were 8 officers all of whom were certified as Alert Duty Officers (ADO) with nuclear weapons release authority. All the officers had Top Secret security clearance. The officers also had duties associated with the day to day operation of the Det. There were 12 enlisted munitions technicians, about 30 security police/guards, 3 Emergency Ordinance Disposal (EOD) sergeants and 1 medic. The rest were admin clerks, cooks and supply people. There were about 20 sergeants. The US Army people at Lechfeld were separate from the USAF people and had their own command structure, rules and regulations.
I was an ADO, the munitions maintenance officer and safety officer. I was also the alternate CRYPTO officer. We had our own CRYPTO section for transmission of classified messages. There was always an ADO on duty in the QRA if a weapon were present.
Our munitions maintenance shop was in the munitions storage area. We would transfer the bombs to the QRA and load the F-104 alert A/C. The Mk 28, 57 and 61 bombs were the most common USAF nuclear weapons assigned in Europe. In 1967 there were about 7000 US nuclear weapons in Europe.
The B57 was produced in six versions (mods) with explosive yields ranging from 5 to 20 kilotons. Mod 0 was 5 kT, Mod 1 and Mod 2 were 10 kT, Mod 3 and Mod 4 were 15 KT, and Mod 5 was 20 kT. The depth bomb version of the B57, for the U.S. Navy, replaced the Mk 101 Lulu and had selectable yield up to 10 kT.The B57 used the Tsetse primary design for its core design, shared with several other mid- and late-1950s designs.The B57 was produced from 1963 to 1967. After 1968, the weapon became known as the B57 rather than the Mk 57. 3,100 weapons were built, the last of which was retired in June 1993
The Mk 28 was produced from 1958 through 1966. It used the W28 lightweight, Class D warhead (also shared with the TM-76 Mace surface-to-surface missile and the GAM-77 Hound Dog air-launched cruise missile). After 1968 it was redesignated B28. 20 different versions were offered, distinguished by their yield and safety features. The B28 used the "building block" principle, allowing various combinations of components for different aircraft and roles. The principal configurations were as follows:
The B28 had a diameter of about 22 in (58 cm), with a length varying between 96 in (2.44 m) and 170 in (4.32 m) and weight of 1,700 lb (771 kg) to 2,320 lb (1,053 kg), depending on the model type and whether a parachute retard pack was fitted. The range of explosive yields was as follows:
The fuze mechanism on a B28 could be set for an air burst or ground burst detonation. A total of 4,500 B28s were produced. The last examples were retired in 1991.
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Our admin area and enlisted barracks were at Schwabstadl. Our housing area for officers and sergeants was in Konigsbrunn. We were not part of the US Army detachment but did use their dining hall. All of the USAF officers were members of the German O-Club and enjoyed socializing with the German officers. I especially enjoyed the German social functions and became good friends with several of the German Officers. Horst Wilhelms has been to visit me in Arkansas and we have visited him in Berlin. Otto Kammermeyer was also a good friend. Our detachment was closed in 1968 and I was transferred to London, assigned to HQ 3AF. I was stationed in Germany for about 2.5 years.
I think my tour in Germany was one of the best assignments I had in my 22 years in the USAF. The German people were very friendly and helpful. We became friends with our neighbors in Koinigsbrunn and frequented the local shops. I bought a VW square back (Type 3) and saw much of Germany by car. I was able learn enough of the German language to get by while traveling in Germany. While visiting an American friend in Aachen, a German waitress thought it was funny that I greeted her with “Gruss Gott” and that I “spoke like a Bavarian”.
My family and I were invited into many German homes. My first day in Germany, while on the train from Rhine-Main, I met a man from Munchen. After spending several hours on the train together he invited me to visit him and his family, which I did the next week-end.
One of the USAF officers in our Det purchased a new Porsche 912. One week-end we drove the car to the Canadian base at Bad Solingen to spend the night and then on to Le Mans for the 24 hour race. It was a long but fun week-end.