43 Signal Battalion Heidelberg Germany
The 43rd Signal Construction Battalion was activated at Camp Crowder, Missouri on 7 February 1944. The Battalion underwent training for a period of five months at Camp Crowder. During the period of the Battalion?s training on 1 March 1944, the 43rd Signal Construction Battalion was redesigned the 43rd Signal Heavy Construction Battalion.
On 7 July 1944, the 43rd left Camp Crowder enroute to Camp Shanks, New York, where they arrived on 9 July 1944. After a brief stay at Camp Shanks, the Battalion left New York on the Queen Elizabeth on 15 July 1944.
The 43rd arrived in Gourock, Scotland on 21 July 1944. They remained in Scotland and England until 9 July 1944, when they departed from Weymouth, England enroute to Utah Beach, France, where they arrived 9 August 1944.
In France, on 13 August 1944, the 43rd became assigned to the special troops of the 12th Army Group, under the Third Army. From that time until 9 May 1945, the Battalion was chiefly occupied with building signal lines to connect the 12th Army Group Headquarters with the Third Army Headquarters. From 11 August 1944 to 16 September 1944, the signal lines were constructed in the vicinity of Avranches, Laval, LeMans, Chalons, Troyes, and St. Mihiel.
The Battalion began its first open wire job on 16 September 1944, east of Verdun. The 43rd continued working on that job through 21 September 1944 when the work was halted before completion because of the siege of Metz.
During the period of 22 September through the end of November 1944, the 43rd worked on various signal construction jobs commencing with the construction of a seven-mile section from Verdun to Aubange. Beginning 4 October 1944, the Battalion extended open wire from Longivy to Aubange, Belgium which brought the 43rd to Belgium on 15 October 1944. From 15 October to 4 November, the Battalion constructed an open-wire line from Bastogne to Jemelle. The remainder of November was spent rehabilitating the communication lines in the areas of Commercy and Toul.
In early December, the construction of signal lines was practically impossible due to the Neuse River valley being flooded. However, an open-wire construction job was started from Metz to St. Avold. This construction job was not completed due to the German Ardennes offensive.
In late December to 17 January 1945, the Battalion built lines from Ausbange to Arlon, and built lines in Luxembourg City. From 17 January 1945 to 30 January, signal wire was repaired in the vicinities of Arlon, Bastogne, and Jemelle.
On January 1945, the 43rd began a period of training west of Neufchateau which lasted until 24 February 1945.
From Luxembourg on 25 February 1945, an open-wire construction job was started from Luxembourg City to Trier, Germany. The construction was continued from Trier to Wittlich, but it was not completed on 20 March 1945 when the 43rd moved to Kaiserslautern, Germany. On 31 March, the Battalion was moved to Bad Kreuznach. From 17 April to 22 April, construction of open wire took place between Wiesbaden and Frankfurt. Open wire was constructed from Giessen to Marbury from 22 April to May 1945. From May to 9 May, open wire was constructed from Partenstein to Lohr.
From 9 May 1945 to 7 July 1945, the 43rd continued construction lines connecting major American occupation units. The construction included lines between Bassum and Bremen, Frankfurt and Mannheim, and across the Weser River. On 28 May 1946, the Battalion was inactivated.
The Battalion remained inactivated until 1 August 1966, at which time the 43rd was again activated in the Republic of Vietnam as the 43rd Signal Battalion (Support), a combat support battalion. During the following two-month gestation period, the Commanding Office, LTC Ertlschwiger, worked within the parent unit, the 21st Signal Group, to complete preparations for the Battalion?s arrival. Announcing the birth through the filling of the first morning report, the 43rd emerged on 16 October 1966 in Pleiku with Company A, 41st Signal Battalion assigned.
When Company C, 459th Signal Battalion moved into the Dragon Mountain Base Camp of the 4th Infantry Division on 22 October 1966 and began operating the Famous Signal Center on 4 November 1966, the Battalion continued its growth in size and responsibility. The reassignment of Company A, 41st to Company A, 43rd and the formation of Company C, 43rd from Kontum Detachment of Company A brought the 43rd near maturity on 16 November 1966.
The Battalion?s two-fold mission was administrative and field communications support for US and ARVN units within Pleiku, Kontum, Phu Bon, and Dar Lac provinces of the II Corps Tactical Zone.
During the first half of 1967, the Battalion worked to consolidate its position in the zone, both in terms of physical facilities and communication support. Although originally slated for field-type support, the 43rd gradually found itself providing fixed-plant telephone switchboard and communications center facilities for Pleiku, Kontum, and outlying sites. Company A, which originally was assigned to the 41st Signal Battalion, subscribed into the Long Lines System for both telephone and teletype. Additionally, this unit operated VHF/UHF systems which tied in Kontum, An Khe, Cheo Reo, Ban Me Thout, and Dak To, operated manual telephone and switchboards, and managed several communications centers.
Company C provided telephone service for the MACV Advixory team and other units at Knotum, Ban Me Thout, and Cheo Reo and gave additional communications support through communications centers and entrance into the Long Line System.
During the fall and winter months, the Battalion installed better and more improved communications transmission facilities between various points. This included installation of a microwave shot from Tropo Hill to Pleiku South, which is operated by a detachment from the 518th Company and underground cable facilities on Tropo Hill, among others. Class IV projects were begun: Pleiku Army Communications Center (which has replaced a tactical communications center) and 4th Infantry Base Camp Dial Central Office. Other major projects underway included cable projects at the 4th Infantry Base Camp, Kontum, and Ban Me Thout, and all the installation of an AN/MSQ-73 Tactical Facilities Control to monitor all Army Area Communications System circuits in the Pleiku area.
In addition to improving communications, administration, and logistics during this year-end period, all units improved their defensive posture by extensively sandbagging billets and communications equipment, constructing perimeter towers and bunkers and installing perimeter lighting.
Battalion headquarters and Company A in the Pleiku MACV compound were attacked by 122 mm rockets on the night of 26 October 1967, the first hostile incident in nearly a year. No one was injured in the incident.
The deployment of a contingency team to DAK to support Operation MacArthur took place in November 1967. It became apparent that the 4th Infantry Division Signal Battalion could not support both the tactical units and the Forward Supply Area because of the large number of forces involved. The 43rd Signal Battalion was tasked with providing a complete signal site in a matter of hours. This was accomplished by drawing equipment and personnel from several scattered sites to assemble at Pleiku and convoy to Dak To. The entire operation from tasking to action communication with Dak To required 48 hours. The Battalion continued to operate communication facilities in Dak To, although a communications center was deactivated in early 1968.
Later in 1967, battalion units received numerous other rocket, mortar, and small arms attacks. Affected were the Pleiku MACV compound, Pleiku North, Camp Holloway, Dak To, Kontum, and Ban Me Thout. Company C, at Kontum, suffered several wounded and 90 percent of its cable and wire at Kontum and Ban Me Thout as a result of shrapnel cuts. Company C lost two 45KW generators as result of the attacks.
The 43rd Signal Battalion began calendar year 1968 with assigned/attached units at the following sites: HHD and Company A, Pleiku: Detachment 1, Company A, Camp Holloway: Detachment 2, Company A, Pleiku North: Detachment 3, Company A, Dak To: Company C, Kontum: Detachment 3, Company C, Cheo Reo: Detachment 6, Company C, Ban Me Thout: 278th Signal Company, Dragon Mountain.
A Major battalion assignment was providing base cam telephone facilities for the 4th Infantry Division at Camp Enari. This task originally was assigned to Company C, 459th Signal Battalion, which was attached to the 43rd Signal Battalion for that purpose. However, in April 1967, operational requirements necessitated the deployment of Company C in support of Task Force Oregan which later became the American Division. A platoon from Company A assumed the base camp support mission until the 278th Signal Company 73rd Signal Battalion was deployed from Tuy Hoa and Phan Rang to Camp Enari, where it became part of the 43rd and took over the support mission. The third platoon of the 278th remained attached to the 73rd Signal Battalion to provide communications for the 30th ROK Division at Dong Ba Thin.
During the spring months of 1967, all units began massive self-help construction of cantonment areas. In Pleiku, HHD constructed billets, a headquarters building, personnel buildings, and S-4 in the MACV area. Company A remained billeted in the existing building and occupied two new two-story billets. Company C collocated with MACV at Knotum and completed approximately 70 percent of its defensive structures on their respective perimeters.
Detachment 10, 362nd Signal Company, one team from the 69th Signal Battalion, and the 3rd Platoon, Company D, 36th Signal Battalion were attached to the 43rd Signal Battalion. The 362nd Signal Detachment was attached to operate Tactical Troop and communications center facilities at Pleiku, while Company D, 36th Signal Battalion operated switchboard and communications center facilities at Pleiku North (Dynamic). Company A and Company C detachments provided communications support in Cheo Reo, Ban Me Thout, Camp Holloway, Camp Schmidt, and other areas.
In addition to these functions, the Battalion also operated 1st Signal Brigade AN/TRC-24 School. This support assisted significantly in upgrading communications efficiently within elements of the US Army Vietnam.
During the second half o 1967, the US Air Force took over its responsibility for telephone service in the Pleiku area, relieving the 43rd Signal Battalion of this duty. As the 1878th Communications Squadron gradually activated a 2000-line dial telephone exchange and expanded lines in the area, the Battalion was able to deactivate the manual Pleiku army and Camp Schmidt (Calvert) switchboards.
Also at this time, the 43rd Signal Battalion organized the Army Area Communications Operation Center (AACOC), the first such facility developed within the 21st Signal Group and a prototype for similar facilities in other battalions. This facility provided a centralized center for DCASAM and 1st Signal Brigade element in the Pleiku area which could respond to circuit and system installations, operations, and restorations.
The first four month of 1968 were very active, both in terms of enemy activity and communications support. The most serious enemy attack on battalion units came during Lunar New Year Tet offensive, which began 29 January 1968. All 43rd Signal units were "hit" and the Company C compound at Kontum was threatened by ground attack. Company C repelled an enemy attack on the northern perimeter of the compound and, with the aid of armored vehicles from a nearby unit, caused the enemy to end the engagement, although not without suffering casualties. A reactionary force of 11 volunteers was dispatched from Company A and HHD to assist the embattled company in defending the compound perimeter and restoring communications and fortifications that were damaged as a result of the mortar, rocket, and small arms attack.
A few days following the Tet offensive the 586th Signal Company was assigned to the Battalion. The Battalion was also given responsibility for communications support in the western portion of the Binh Dinh province. The 589th Signal Company and responsibility for communications support I An Khe area were previously assigned to the 41st Signal Battalion. The major function of the 586th was to provide base camp facilities for Camp Radcliffe, former home of the 1st Cavalry Division (Air Mobile).
In February the Battalion also sponsored the arrival in-country of the 596th Signal Company, which originally was scheduled to locate in An Khe. The 43rd processed the new unit and moved it in March to Phu Bai where it became a part of the 63rd Signal Battalion.
In March, the 3rd Platoon of the 278th Signal Company at Dong Ba Thin was returned to the 278th Signal company at Pleiku South at zero strength and the personnel located at Dong Ba Thin were assimilated into Company D, 36th Signal Battalion. The AN/TRC-24 school was closed in March and moved to the 1st Signal Brigade Training Facility.
The following communications projects were completed in early 1968: cutover of DCA Tctical Tropo Systems to the Tropo Hill Electrical Equipment building, cutover of all circuit/systems to the MSQ-73 Technical Control facility, completion of Kontum cable project, installation of dial trunks to Famous, Pleiku North, and Camp Schmidt switchboards, deactivation of the Tactical Tropo system between Pleiku and An Khe, and completion of the new fixed-plant Pleiku Army Communications Center.
Due to recurring difficulties encountered in supporting the Ban Me Thout signal sites, the Battalion turned over full operational, logistical, and administration control of the sites and responsibility for Darlac Province to the 498th Signal Battalion on 10 September 1968.
In late October, the 63rd Signal Battalion sponsored the arrival in-country of the 270th Signal Company (CA) and the 17th Cable Platoon (CC). The 43rd Signal Battalion processed the new units at An Khe for further deployment to the 63rd Signal Battalion area of responsibility which took place in the later part of November.
Support of the 4th Infantry Division unit movement became a primary activity of the 43rd Signal Battalion during the later part of 1969. An aggressive program to determine communications requirements was conducted through the joint efforts of the 43rd and the Division Signal Officer.
Due to the relocation of US forces, the DAK To signal site was deactivated on 29 August 1969.
On 12 December 1969, the Pleiku Tandem Switching Center was activated. The 43rd worked closely with the 187th Comm Squadron in making this possible. Tandem switch gives units direct dialing service rather than manual switchboard.
The Pleiku West Detachment of Company a was deactivated on 1 January 1970. The detachment provided manual telephone switching to subscribers in the Pleiku area. These services were no longer required when the expansion of the Pleiku Dial Control Office gave dial telephone service to all US military units in Pleiku.
On 1 March 1970, Company in Pleiku and Company C in Kontum were redesignated the 146th Signal Company and 175th Signal Company, respectively. The Signal Support Detachment Pleiku and Signal Support Detachment An Khe were also activated on this date.
With the move of the 4th Infantry Division from Camp Enari, Pleiku to Camp Radckiffe, An Khe, the mission of the 278th Signal Company changed from providing area camp communications for the 4th to inactivation and redeployment of personnel and equipment. On 12 April 1970, the 278th Signal Company moved to Artillery Hill to await deactivation. On 28 June 1970 the 278th Signal Company was brought to zero strength and was officially deactivated on 25 September 1970.
On August 1970, the mission of the 586th Signal Company to furnish base camp communications for Camp Eneri were given to the Signal Support Detachment An Khe. Due to lack of mission, the 586th Signal Company was brought to zero strength and officially deactivated on 15 December 1970.
With the stand-down of the 4th Infantry Division on 1 December 1970, the support mission of the Signal Support Detachment An Khe was virtually eliminated, and, on 15 December 1970, the Detachment was brought to zero strength. The unit has since been deactivated.
The 175th Signal Company that provided communications support to the American units in the Kontum area was reduced in size and mission on 15 March 1971 due to phase down of American and ARVNiation of the signal missions. The remaining personnel were redesignated as a platoon of the 146th Signal Company. The 175th Signal Company was carried at zero strength awaiting deactiviation orders.
On 25 March, due to the reduced communications requirements of the 43rd signal Battalion, the signal support Detachment that operated the Pleiku Army Comm center and AUTOSEVOCOM facilities was re-designated as a platoon under the 146th Signal Company. The Signal Detachment would be carried at zero strength until deactivation orders were received. The 43rd Signal Battalion was inactivated effective 30 May 1971 per headquarters, USATRATCOM General order Number 225, dated 25 June 1971.
On 1 July 1974, the 43rd Signal Battalion was activated at Heidelberg, Germany per headquarters, USACC General Order Number 209 and 210, dated 17 June 1974. The mission assigned was to supervise the operations, training, maintenance, supply, administration, and security of fixed station dial offices, telecommunications center, European Command Control Console Systems, wide and narrow band secure systems, HF/SS fixed and mobile radio, the assigned portion of the European Wideband Communications (a part of Defense Communications Systems), and other communications support, as directed, in support of the CINCEUR. The Battalion was organized from elements of Signal Operations Battalion, Heidelberg, and D Company 68th Signal Battalion.
Two companies were activated on 1 July 1974. The 181st Signal Company to support all fixed-plant telephone communications, and the 178th Signal Company to support the Telecommunications Center and Staff Message Control Center. A Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment was activated to support the Battalion headquarters.
The co-occupation of billets by enlisted men and women of the Battalion was accomplished in August of 1974. Reorganization of the former Signal Operations Battalion in the 43rd Signal Battalion was completed September 1974. The 43rd Signal Battalion has since been performing as well as efficiently in the peacetime as in combat situations in World War II and Vietnam.
Posted by Richard Brothers Sr.
Sep 05 2003 04:21:24:000AM