Jim Sessoms, 320th ASA BN DF Operations
I arrived in BA in Mar 1960 and was assigned to the Detachment in Memmingen in May of that year. At that time, it was Det D, but was never, as listed, located on the "Fliegerhorst" at Memmingen. Det personnel lived in a combination of a two-story house located in the town of Memmingerberg and in a nearby Gasthaus named the "Lowen." The operational site was located on the far side of the airfield and we had a choice of traveling 4 or 5 miles through the country or going across one end of the runway and with a provided key, exit the base on the other side and pass through farm fields to get to the site.
Other sites were:
- Det A - Bremerhaven
- Det B - Sinzig (near Bonn)
- Det C - Malmsheim (near Stuttgart)
When Det C closed (unknown date), we got some of their personnel and Memmingen then became Det C.
In Oct 63, I was reassigned to Det B and then sometime between Oct and Dec of 64, Det B was turned over to the control of Herzo and I returned to BA in Dec of 64. ASAE also controlled some DF Sites in Italy that participated in the European HFDF Net, taking DF "Flashes" from BA via morse and reporting results back the same way periodically throughout the day. Hearability played a large role in success or failure. We keyed the 1000 Watt transmitter that sat in a bldg atop Irschenberg (just off the Autobahn on the way to Munich) from the Ops Bldg in BA.
(Correction: I was wrong about the 1000 watt transmitter being on top of Irschenberg. There were two 450 or 500 watt transmitters, a primary and a reserve. I want to say they were BC-610s, but can't be sure. The 1000 watt transmitter we went to later was located in the Signal Maintenance shop in BA Operations and the signal remoted to the antennas atop Irschenberg.)
In Jan 65, I went TDY for 3 weeks to the USAF FLR-9 Site in San Vito, Italy, to do a hearability test to determine whether or not we could close the Army DF Site at San Pancrazio and use a dedicated position in San Vito to take its place. Both of those actions happened.
I also returned to Memmingen from 68-71 and would be glad to answer any questions that my memory supports.Great effort on the whole web site.
Jim SessomsBA 60-65 (E-2--E-6) & 68-71 (E-7)FS Augsburg 74-76 Augsburg/Wobeck (E-8)FS Berlin 76-77 (E-8)
HQ USAREUR 83-86 (Civ)
The 186th ASA Company was a Special Identification Techniques (SIT) Company. That's Direction Finding (DF) and Radio Fingerprinting (RFP) -- that's all we did. The DF dets were assigned to the 186th. The detachments were later moved to the 180th Co /Co A of the 320th ASA Bn after the 186th was discontinued. The 318th & 319th ASA battalions both had their own DF Dets. I don't remember locations, except that I know at one time Herzo owned the Det at Sinzig. BA transferred it to them late in 1964. As the NCOIC at the time, I remained a couple of weeks to help transition and returned to BA in Dec 1964.
The location of a DF detachment depended on several factors, including logistics, land rights and most importantly, hearability. Also important was how their line bearings would fit in with those from their other Dets to triangulate and "locate" the target. Angle of intersection was important because it helped to increase accuracy of the location.
In Memmingen, we had excellent hearability and could work just about anybody's targets from there -- and I suspect that's why Herzo (318th ASA Bn) decided to collocate a Det with us -- plus we had all the primary logistics problems worked out. Though their folks lived in another town, their equipment was set up right next to ours. We co-existed quite well!
The 320th did not have any dets on the border doing low-level voice intercept. In the 1960-1971 timeframe, Bad Aibling was strictly collecting in the HF spectrum, and primarily morse and teletype, very little voice.
The primary reason for locating Dets on the border was to intercept line-of-sight comms in the VHF range -- its called "proximity and that's why we built towers and put sites on mountains -- to gain that height needed for line-of-sight intercept. To my knowledge, the 320th had DF sites only, not any collection sites like Wobeck or Meissner or Schneeberg.
At one time, there was also a DF site in Pocking -- just a little S. of Passau. The NCOIC was a Staff Sergeant named Joseph McMoneagle, later a Warrant Officer and now a published author. I was sent there TDY for several days from Memmingen to help them clean up their admin activities -- that had to be sometime in 1969 or 1970. I only remember the timeframe because my wife went with me and we got married (in Memmingen) in Dec 1968!
Wobeck 1974-76: there was an operations compound at Wobeck with an ops bldg, maint bldg, admin bldg (all temporary) and a motor pool area. All potable water had to brought in by the local fire dept. There was also a separate ELINT van (NSA Research project) operated by 502d Gp soldiers who were attached to us for admin. EVERYBODY lived on the economy. That caused lots of problems, as we military bosses had no legal authority to inspect anyone's living quarters. It was surely a challenging assignment, especially when our bosses in Augsburg didn't always help when assigning personnel or making admin management decisions. And they always thought they knew more about our situation than we did. Some careers got severely damaged before the dust settled. We turned it over to 502d Gp custody end of Apr 1976 and I moved into Berlin.