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President Kennedy Questions Davy Crockett Crewmen

- An Awkward Moment -

ABOVE: The President reviews 3rd Armored troops at Hanau, Germany, 1963.


From Thomas Herwer in 2005:
3d Bn, 36th Infantry, 3AD

Marty Kungl and I (both of 3rd Bn, 36th Inf) were selected for the advance party to prepare for President Kennedy's visit to Hanau in June, 1963. We set up a full blown Davy Crockett Weapon System display over by the missile launchers. The 1963 3rd Armored Division yearbook has a photo that shows us, although real small. We were the only two guys from the Davy Crockett section at the display. I had heard that Kennedy didn't want a lot of LT's and SGT's around. He wanted to hear about the weapons from the gunners of tanks, mortars, artillery, and so on.

It was a very impressive show for the President. I can't ever remember seeing so many GI's in one place at one time.

When Kennedy was riding around in the limousine with Gen Pugh (Division Commander) and viewing all the troops and weapons, they stopped at the missile launcher displays and got out and Kennedy talked to the guys for a few minutes. He was a big advocate of missiles and rockets. On the way back to the limo, Gen Pugh pointed out to Kennedy our Davy Crockett display. Boy, were we startled when the President and the General walked over to Marty and me. We must have been at ramrod attention at that point.

Kennedy ask me if I thought the Davy Crockett was accurate weapon. I told him, if I can put this warhead within a 100 feet of a target with a 20-foot air-burst, there won't be anything around for a 1.7 miles radius.

Kennedy then asked Marty what was the yield of the warhead. Marty said something like, "Sir, I can't tell you. That's a classified secret." There was a moment of dead and uncomfortable silence. Then Gen Pugh told Marty that it would be okay to tell the Commander in Chief that information. So Marty divulged the warhead yield, much to Pugh's relief, I'm sure.

I don't know if it had anything to do with what I said to him, but in July, 1963, I later read, Pres. Kennedy ordered the removal of all Davy Crockett's from Germany because "It showed to be too inaccurate to deliver even low yield nuclear fires". Nevertheless, it remained in service until 1971.

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