Accidents in an actual shooting war, as well as a Cold War,
are inevitable. This one, however, stands out as apparently the
worst U.S. ground training accident of the entire Cold War. Just
after roll-call, on a rainy Friday morning on September 2, 1960,
sixteen solders were killed and 27 were wounded when a 200-pound
artillery shell landed amongst them at Camp Kasserine, Grafenwoehr.
All of the men were from the 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron, 12th
Calvary, 3rd Armored Division. The shell, which had an incorrect
charge due to human error, was fired by a V Corps Artillery unit
-- Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery.
MORE DETAIL BELOW
From various news services, with the original
and in chronological order:
15 G.I.'S KILLED,
28 HURT BY SHELL
Howitzer, Fired in Training, Hits Bavaria
The New York Times (front-page story on Sept.
Bonn, Germany, Sept. 2 , 1960 - Fifteen United States
soldiers were killed and twenty-eight were injured this morning
when an eight-inch artillery shell exploded at the Grafenwoehr
training ground in Bavaria.
The headquarters of the United States Army in Europe announced
in Heidelberg that a howitzer shell, fired during a training
exercise of the Third Armored Division, had veered from the planned
target area. It exploded in the tent camp of a reconnaissance
squadron, the announcement said.
Maj. Gen. Frederic J. Brown, commander of the division, stationed
in Frankfurt, ordered an immediate investigation. The seriously
wounded victims were flown to Army hospitals by helicopter.
The training ground, about ninety miles square, is near the
Czech border north of Nuremberg. It is used for maneuvers and
firing practice by West German and American soldiers.
"Human Error" Cited
of U.S. Soldiers in West Germany
United Press International
Heidelberg, Germany, September 2, 1960 - The shell
that killed fifteen United States soldiers overshot its target
by a mile because the powder charge was heavy, the Army said
Maj. General Frederic J. Brown, Third Armored Division commander,
attributed the accident to an overfire from "human error"
by Battery A of the Eighteenth Artillery under control of the
Fifth Corps, stationed at Darmstadt.
The shell struck just after roll-call on a rainy morning.
It tore into three tents occupied by soldiers of the division's
Third Reconnaissance Squadron, Twelfth Cavalry. It ripped through
one tent, exploded in the second and shredded in the third with
The Army said two of the injured remained on the critical
list, while three had returned to duty.
The incident was the worst ground-training accident involving
United States forces in Germany since World War II. In August,
1955, two C-119's on an air exercise collided, killing more than
The eight-inch howitzer can fire nuclear warheads. A conventional
shell, the type that went awry today, and weighs 200 pounds,
of which about 36.75 pounds is high explosive. The weapon weighs
94,000 pounds. It has a maximum range of 18,510 yards, just over
Howitzer shells follow a high trajectory from a weapon to
target, as contrasted with the flatter flight from a gun, which
has a rifled barrel.
ARMY RITES HONOR
16 VICTIMS OF SHELL
The Associated Press
Grafenwoehr, Germany, Sept. 4, 1960 - Three thousand
United States soldiers paid homage today at a simple memorial
ceremony to sixteen comrades, victims of a training accident
Soldiers of the Third Armored Division assembled in a hollow
-- with 16 gaps in the ranks -- before an altar between two fir
Sixteen steel helmets on tables near the altar bore testimony
to the accident that killed fifteen men outright and wounded
twenty-seven when an overcharged 8-inch howitzer shell overshot
an artillery range and landed in a tent camp. One of the injured
soldiers died yesterday. The army is investigating the accident.
PENTAGON IDENTIFIES DEAD
The Associated Press
Washington, Sept. 4, 1960 - Following is the list of
sixteen U.S. soldiers killed when a howitzer shell exploded on
impact in Grafenwoehr, Germany, as released hy the Pentagon.
All were from the 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron, 12th Calvary,
3rd Armored Division.
BAROFALDI, Pfc. Robert E.,
Rio Vista, Calif.
BECKWORTH, Specialist 4/c James B.,
COCHRAN, Sgt. Charles,
EASTHAM, Specialist 5/c Jack L.,
Blair, W. Va.
HARRIS, Pfc. Norman D.
Hometown not reported
HIGMAN, Pfc. Michael J.,
JOHNSON, Specialist 4/c Earl,
LOVE, Pfc. David L.,
Spring Hill, Tenn.
LUCAS, Pfc. Eimo M., Jr.,
MAPPIN, Sgt. 1/c Jack W., Jr.,
Fort Clayton, Canal Zone, Panama.
MERRILL, Specialist 4/c William A.,
Hamburg, N. Y.
NELSON, Pfc. Charles L.,
PARKER, Pfc. J. C.,
PLESHAKOV, Pfc. George,
Palo Alto, Calif.
ROGERS, Sgt. 1/c Edward V.,
Dlllon, S. C.
SAURINO, Pfc. Augustus J.,
New York, N.Y.