2-28, Field Artillery, Bleidorn Kaserne, Ansbach Germany, US Army, Howitzer, M109, Grafenwehr, 2 28, Hohenfels,
28th Field Artillery Regiment Association
We Support the Line
Constituted 5 July 1918 in the National Army as the 28th Field Artillery and assigned to the 10th Infantry Division. Organized 10 August 1918 at Camp Funston, Kansas.
Demobilized 7 February 1919 at Camp Funston, Kansas.
Reconstituted 24 March 1923 in the Regular Army as the 28th Field Artillery. Assigned 1 January 1930 to the 8th Division Infantry (Motorized) (later redesignated as the 8th Infantry Division). Activated 1 July 1940 at Camp Jackson, South Carolina.
Reorganized and redesignated 1 October 1940 as the 28th Field Artillery Battalion.
Inactivated 25 October 1945 at Camp Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Activated 17 August 1950 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. As part of the 8th Infantry Division (Training)
Relieved 1 August 1957 from assignment to the 8th Infantry Division; concurrently, reorganized and redesignated as the 28th Artillery, a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System. Redesignated 1 September 1971 as the 28th Field Artillery Regiment.
After designation to the Combat Arms Regimental System 6 Battalions were formed, 4 have been on active status:
1st Battalion 28th FA (155MM T, Active 1959-1960, 8th ID, Ernst Ludwick Kaserne Darmstadt), (RKT) (HJ) Active 1960-61 8th ID (Baumholder)
2nd Battalion 28th FA (175MM SP, 155MM SP Active, 1966-1988, Hindenburg Kaserne, Bleidorn Kaserne , Ansbach)
3rd Batalion 28th FA (Not Activated)
4th Missile Battalion 28th FA (Lacrosse) (Active 1960-63, Ansbach, Bleidorn Ks)
5th Battalion 28th FA (203MM SP, USAR, Cincinnati Ohio deactivated Sept 1993)
6th Battalion 28th FA (Not Activated)
Second Battalion 28th Field Artillery in the 80s
The 2nd Battalion 28th Field Artillery was a 155MM M-109A2 Battalion that was part of the 210th Brigade, VII Corps Artillery, located on Bleidorn Kaserne in the town of Ansbach in the Federal Republic of Germany. During the 80s in Europe, there were 17 155 SP M-109A2 units, of which 14 of them were in the Mechanized and Armored Divisions as Direct Support Artillery to the maneuver brigades. In the 80s in VII Corps Artillery, there were only two 155 SP Battalions with the remaining Battalions being 8-inch or Lance Missile. The other 155MM Battalion in the Corps Artillery is the 5-17FA located in Augsburg.
2-28 FA during the 80s was organized with 5 subordinate batteries. Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB) which contained the Command group and the Battalion Staff. A significant part of HHB was the communications platoon which had multiple teams to run wire internally to the Battalion. For long distance communications and Nuclear control orders the Battalion utilized a high frequency secure radio teletype system called a “RATT Rig”. Other platoons in HHB were the Battalion Survey platoon, the Battalion Tactical Operations Center including the Battalion Fire Direction Center and several other command and staff elements.
The muscle of the Battalion were the three firing Batteries (A, B, and C) each authorized 6 Howitzers (later 8 howitzers). Finally there was Service Battery which was a type of unit that was fairly unique to the Field Artillery because it was an organic company sized unit that was almost totally logistics focused. The “heart” of Service Battery was its large Ammunition Platoon consisting of over 12-5 Ton Ammo trucks with trailers (Later in 1980s HEMMTs). Service Battery also includes the Battalion maintenance section, Battalion S-4 section (Logistics) and a small decontamination capability. The Battalion drew its external logistics support from several units in the 2st Corps Support Command, specifically for maintenance support from the 256 Maintenance Company, 71st Maintenance Battalion out of Nuremberg provided a small maintenance detachment that was attached to Service Battery as a forward support team. Supplies were provided through the 95th S&S Battalion also located near Nuremburg which is about an hour away.
The 28th was part of the 17th FA Brigade. In the other US Corps Artillery in Germany (V Corps Artillery) there is only one 155 MM Battalion which is the 2-75 FA located in Hanau.
The Firing Batteries
The three firing batteries were organized like every other 155 MM SP Firing Battery in the US Army in the 1980s. The one exception to the standard M-109 Battery organization across the Army were the Howitzer (HOW) Batteries in the Armored Cavalry Regiment which had the MTOE elements that enabled the Battery to operate independently of a Field Artillery Battalion.
Each Firing Battery was authorized 3 officers, 46 Non-Commissioned officer in the grade E-5 and above and 47 soldiers in the grade of E-1 through E-4. Among the soldiers in the Firing Batteries there are 11 different Military Occupation Specialties (MOS) with the majority being 13B Cannon Crewman and 13E Fire Direction Specialists. The Battery was organized around two “platoons” along with the Battery Headquarters. The Battery Headquarters consists of the Battery Commander (Captain 0-3, 13A), the First Sergeant (13Z) and a driver for an M-151A2 ¼ Ton Jeep with Trailer. The First Sergeant did not have his own vehicle and rode with the Battery Commander in the field. The Jeep trailer carried the Battery Commander’s (BC) personal gear, the 1SGT and driver’s personal gear plus a small tent, a “Yukon” stove and fuel for the stove. The BC’s Jeep, the generators in FDC, and the Mess hall were the only users of gasoline in the Battery, everything else ran on diesel.
The Firing Platoon
The “muscle” of Firing Battery was the Firing Platoon which was led by the Battery Executive Officer (XO). The XO is assisted by two SFC/E-7 13B40’s who are the Chief of Firing Battery and the Gunnery Sergeant. The XO, the Chief of Firing Battery (commonly referred to as “Chief of Smoke”…or just “Smoke”) and the Gunnery Sergeant (Commonly referred to as Gunny) are assigned an M-561 Gamma Goat with a driver. This vehicle serves as the Battery Operations Center (BOC) and also carries the classified safes that have all of the nuclear release code books. The BOC also serves as the alternate Fire Direction Center (FDC). In the field, the BOC is supposed to be augmented by a couple of 13E Fire Direction Specialists which come from the Battery FDC section as well as the NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) NCO. The BOC contains firing charts as well as a full capability to compute firing data. The BOC has a drawback to being the alternate FDC because it has only one radio, so if the primary FDC is lost then we will need to use the Battery Commander’s Jeep and remote the radios to be fully mission capable.
In the Firing Platoon, there are the six howitzer sections. Each howitzer section is authorized a 13B30 Staff Sergeant Section Chief, two 13B20 Sergeants assigned as Gunner and Ammunition Team Chief, and 9 13B10 Soldiers who serve as Cannoneers, Howitzer Driver and Ammo Vehicle Driver. Each Gun section is authorized an M-109A2 155MM SP Howitzer and an M-548 Ammunition Carrier. The howitzers and the ammunition carriers are not currently authorized radios, so our primary means of communications between the Fire Direction Center, BOC and the Guns is communications wire which is the primary way inner battery communications has been done since World War 1!
Fire Direction Center
The Fire Direction Center was technically part of the Firing Platoon, however, since it was led by the Fire Direction Officer/Assistant Executive Officer, it was, in practice, part of the Headquarters Platoon. In addition to the Lieutenant who was the Fire Direction Officer (FDO), the FDC had a 13E30 (Staff Sergeant) Fire Direction Chief, a 13E (Sergeant) Fire Direction Computer and 6 13E10 Fire Direction Specialists. The primary vehicle for the FDC was an M-577 Command Post Carrier. Besides the firing charts and manual gunnery tools, until the acquisition of the TACFIRE System, the FDC had a Field Artillery Digital Data Computer (FADDAC), which was a fire direction computer system that had been around since the 1950s and 1960s. FADAC was powered by two 3KW Generators (one primary and one back up) which were mounted on top of the M-577. The FDC had 2 radios in it plus an Aux receiver. Mounted on the FDC was a 4.2 KW Generator to basically power the lights and radios when the FDC was stationary. The FDC also had several of the Ti-59 hand held calculators that could compute firing data. The FDC could get a little crowded with all those people and their gear so a lot of things were mounted outside the vehicle. Seeing an FDC moving down the road is kind of like seeing a gypsy wagon. The FDC section was also authorized an M-60 Machine gun.
The Battery had its own set of trucks for hauling ammunition from Service Battery or the Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) to the Firing Battery. Artillery ammunition is the life blood of any artillery unit and 155 Ammo is both bulky and heavy. To accomplish the Ammo resupply mission, the battery was authorized 4 M-813A1 5 Ton “drop side” ammunition trucks along with ammunition trailers (These were later replaced with HEMMTTs). The Ammo section was authorized a 13B30 Staff Sergeant as the Section Chief, 1-64C20 Sergeant (Truck Master), 3-64C10 Truck Drivers and 3-13B10 Ammunition Handlers. In every Field Artillery Battalion tactical SOP of the time, all of the battery ammunition vehicles are “pooled” with the Service Battery trucks for better efficiency. In almost all nuclear capable cannon artillery units, one of the trucks was dedicated for the purpose of transporting nuclear weapons exclusively and was not part of the normal ammunition supply routine. Because this Special Weapons truck was included in most every nuclear weapons inspection or certification, it was kept in pristine condition and ws not used for any of the other mundane tasks that typically assigned to the normal Ammo trucks.
The Ammo Platoon had some of the hardest working soldiers in the Battery because, in the field, they were constantly on the road and constantly handling literally tons of ammunition. Back in garrison they were always in demand for supply runs and every other task for a truck that came along. Since they are the most utilized vehicles in the Battery they tended to be the ones that need the most maintenance attention.
Because of the importance and high visibility of nuclear weapons, it was a common practice in the firing batteries to form a provisional Special Weapons section since one was not spelled out specifically on the MTOE. On the TOE, one soldier in each Howitzer section was identified and coded as a Nuclear Weapons Assembler. What was done in most units, is that a section was built utilizing the six soldiers who are Nuclear Weapons Assemblers under a Sergeant or Staff Sergeant who may have been dual hatted to form a Special Weapons “Section”. These soldiers were all enrolled in the Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) and spent their time exclusively on the technical aspects of nuclear weapon storage, transport, assembly and emergency destruction.
The Headquarter Platoon contained all of the “support” sections of the Battery:
Maintenance - The biggest element here was the Maintenance Section which was led by the Motor Sergeant (Technically he is called a Self-Propelled Artillery Systems Maintenance Supervisor) 63D40 and he was assisted by a 63D30 Assistant Motor Sergeant. The rest of the soldiers in the Maintenance section consisted of 3-63D10 SP Artillery Mechanics, a 92A20 Sergeant, Repair Parts Clerk, a 52D10 Power Generation Equipment Repairer, a 45D10 SP Artillery Turret Mechanic and a 63B10 Light Wheel Vehicle Mechanic. The Maintenance Section traveled in a 2.5 Ton M-35A2C truck with a .50 Caliber ring mount and this truck towed a 1.5 ton trailer which carried all of the Battery’s repair parts (PLL). The Battery carries, on the average, about 160 “lines” of repair parts with different quantities in each “line”. The Maintenance Section also carries all of its authorized tool sets which is called “#1 Common”, plus any number of special tools for a M-109A2 Battery. With all this equipment, parts, grease, oil, other lubricants and people the maintenance section had to be very careful on how it packed the vehicle so they could get it all loaded. The truck for Battery Maintenance was most often “built up”. This was done using plywood and 2x4s to make a shelter for better organization of the tools and equipment. The PLL Trailer was also built up so that it could carry all the parts and lubricants.
Supply - The supply section of the battery consisted of the Supply Sergeant (92Y30), the NBC NCO (54B20) a supply clerk (92Y10) and the Armorer (92Y10). Supply was a real challenge for loading, in that, they were authorized only one 2.5 Ton truck that had to carry all of the weapons racks from the arms room, night vision devices (until they were issued), mine detectors (until they were issued), all of the NBC gear and decontamination equipment, nerve agent antidote, 5 Gallon cans of sub-tropical bleach (STB) for the M-11’s extra spools of wire and extra commo gear, fuel cans for the stoves, spare gas masks and replacement MOPP suits, small arms ammunition resupply, light Sets, extra CTA-50 items for the soldiers to direct exchange, field Desks, a 3 day supply of field rations for the entire battery plus a 3 day supply of expendable supplies for the Battery (toilet paper, latrine sets, batteries, soap, sundry items). The supply truck also pulled the 500 Gallon, M-149A1 water trailer (commonly known as a “water buffalo”). The supply truck also required some extremely careful planning otherwise all it was required to carry would not fit.
Communications - The Communications Section consisted of three people, a 31L20 Communications Sergeant and 2 31L10 Communications Specialists. Because the Commo Section did not have an assigned vehicle, they had to store most of their equipment on the already overloaded supply truck and they would catch a ride with whomever they could. Typically, one or two of the Commo section would go with the battery advance party to set up wire communications. The Commo Section had huge spools of wire in addition the wire that is already in the gun sections. When the Battery was in a firing position, the Communications Chief normally was posted at the BOC to make sure all the wire lines were working. The soldiers that were assigned to the Communications section were principally wire people (31L) but are sometimes they were cross trained to a certain degree in radio repair. The Battery Commo people were not authorized to “fix” radios at the Battery level and by regulation were only supposed to trouble shoot. Most of the good Battery Commo Chiefs knew how to keep a stash of unauthorized spare parts for radio’s and did not have any qualms about opening up a radio to fix it if they can, provided that their BC would provide “top cover” for them if anybody found out. The Commo Section was also authorized an M-60 Machine Gun which was normally transported by the BOC.
Mess Section - Led by a 92G Staff Sergeant Mess Sergeant (Technically Senior First Cook), a 92G20 First Cook, and two other 92G Cooks. The section was authorized a 2.5 Ton Truck which pulled a Mobile Kitchen Trailer (MKT). The MKT was a self-contained kitchen that had a complete set of gasoline burner units, gas field range and immersion heaters. The Mess Section was also supposed to carry a two day supply of A or B rations in addition to the three day supply of C rations that was carried by Supply. The common practice then was that to feed two hot meals per day (typically breakfast and dinner) and issue each soldier a C Ration Meal for lunch. In most Artillery units, they consolidated the mess sections back in Service Battery and would send out the “hot” meals twice a day in “Mermite Cans”. To get the ration cycle done, the mess section needed to be augmented by KP’s (Kitchen Police). The KPs basically do all the cleaning while the cooks…cook. KP was always viewed as a pain in the ass by most everyone except the Mess Sergeant but it was entirely necessary to get everyone fed on time.