Aviano & Ravenna Italy DF Site History & Memories
Det A, 600th USASA Company, Ravenna, Italy - EARLY DAYS
The Ravenna DF Detachment when John Morrow and I joined it in Jul 1960 was actually the DF Detachment of the
75th USASA Company with duty station of Aviano AFB, Aviano, Italy.
Commanding the 75th at the time was MAJ John J. MacFadden (some of you may have heard of him. MAJ MacFadden was assigned as commander FS Herzo in Oct 1961 and was replaced in the 75th by MAJ Shellace T. Calhaun
The Detachment Site Chief in Aviano was SSG Benny F. Sutton and the entire site consisted of approx 14 people.
The site was located at one end of the main (and only) runway at Aviano across from the alert pad of two F-100s
(nuke armed so the story went).
The 75th ASA Co was primarily a SIGSEC company and was located in Vicenza supporting the 512th USA Artillery
Group (Honest John missiles at that time - if memory isn't failing me.) and other SETAF elements. The 75th ASA
Company was re-designated the 600th ASA Company either in late 1961 or sometime in 1962.
Meanwhile, as we were enjoying ourselves in Aviano, USASA Europe had been conducting a site survey all up and
down Italy to find two, more suitable sites, to support the 320th ASA Bn in Bad Aibling, Germany.
The plan that was put in action was to close and pack up at Aviano and road march the detachment to Ravenna
install and get ourselves operational again in as few days as possible. Then after several months another
detachment was formed, moved south and established the site at Lecce, Italy -- About 30 (50 kilometers) miles
from San Vito AFB, Italy.
On March 6, 1961 the detachment, with Carbienieri
motorcycle escort from their NATO detachment in Vicenza, convoyed to Ravenna arriving shortly after lunch. The
company had in advance made hotel arrangements with the Motel Romea for housing. The truck with all of our
personal baggage was left at the motel and we fairly soon moved on to the site location which was about three
kilometers from the motel which is itself about two kilometers south of Ravenna.
The first order of business was to get the site's AN/TRD-4A installed and mission operational, all other
details to follow. If memory serves we were operational by the next day's afternoon and starting our almost
non ending rotating shifts once again..
Tom Harris, E3->E2->E3->E4->E5 while at the detachment
Even More Earlier Days & A Bit About Site Test For Ravenna and Lecce
Some additions to the history. I arrived at Aviano in the dark of the night on 3 Nov. 1957. The unit was then
designated as Det D 7227 USAF Support Group as a cover designation.. The site chief was SFC Gordian A Fath and the
ones I can remember were the following Ray Pfaff, Francis Stanislos Olshinski, Sonny Abramson, Curtis W. Malone,
John Blassingame, Jim Mattson, and Lloyd C Hodgekins. Blassingame was radio repair, Hodgekins and Malone were
Serbo-Croatian Linguists(strange) the rest of us were 056 ops.
For most of the year of 59/60 Myself, Pfaff, and Olshinski were on the road taking ground conductivity tests on
possible sites at Ravenna, Ancona, San Vito De Normani (later to be an AN/FLR9 Site), just south of Pizza, and San
Pancrazzio In Salintino (outside of Lecce, A WW2 B24 Base.
I Was on that convoy to Ravenna and nearly froze my ass off if it were not for a bottle of grappa that the
brigadiere had . He was riding in My Deuce.
I was at Ravenna for only a little over a year and took the group to Lecce to set up that Site. When I had about
5 Months to go John Cummings came down as my replacement and I returned to Vicenza and Benny Sutton and I and two
fast radio operators manned the NCS.
John (Hoop) T. Rhuark
Note: The photo above of John (Hoop) Rhuark provided by Curt Malone. The story of that
Back in 1958 I shot slides in Italy. Kodak color film came with a prepaid
mailer for processing. I rotated back to CONUS in JAN 1959. When a roll came back from Kodak after I had
already departed, my buddy Lon Dugger picked it up and kept it for me, FOR 51 YEARS! Now that we have
re-connected after all those years, he sent the photos to me last week. The best photo of the lot is of a very
pensive Hoob. Curt Malone
Later Days & End Days
The 600th USASA Company was deactivated some time in late 1967 or early 1968 and the Signal Security portions of
the company was either stopped or taken over by elements in Germany. The Ravenna Detachment responsibilities were
taken over by Field Station Bad Aibling in Germany. I have no knowledge of who continued to man the the mission
down south -- probably the Air Force.
The Ravenna Detachment was closed/deactivated in conjunction with the Field Station Consolidations and mission
move to Field Station Augsburg in 1972. I have been unable to really locate people who served in Ravenna much past
1968 who would persumably be able to provide more accurate information about the last years.
Note from Dick Brannan, December 2010: You probably know that Ivo (co-owner of the then Motel
Romea) passed away several years ago. His partner, Jacamo, bought the cafe Tassa d'Oro in the Piazza del Papolo but
sold it about 5 years ago and retired.