Ike inspects troops in field training
BAUMHOLDER, Aug. 13 — Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower took to the field in the French Zone today for an inspection and spot appraisal of how U.S. soldiers, newly sent to Germany this summer to reinforce his SHAPE command, have buckled down to training.
Under his practiced eye, ground troops of the 4th Div deployed in realistic field combat exercises in rugged, hilly country supported by the fire of light tanks.
Earlier in the day, he had started his round of inspections with a 30-minute visit to the 2d Armd Div's crack Combat Cmd B near Mainz.
And he finished more than 250 miles of rapid travel by car with lightning visits late this afternoon to the medical depot and the engineer depot of Rhine Military Post near Kaiserslautern.
Eisenhower broke his EUCOM vacation to fly this morning from Garmisch to Wiesbaden Air Base for a rendezvous with his hosts, Gen Thomas T. Handy, EUCOM commander-in-chief, and Lt Gen Manton S. Eddy, 7th Army CG.
After the short stop in Mainz. his cavalcade rolled for an hour and a half westward into the French Zone, and arrived in time to permit the SHAPE commander to take open-air lunch in the field with the men and officers of Co J. 3d Bn. 12th Inf Regt, of the 4th Div.
Sitting at the roadside table with Ike, besides Handy and Eddy, were Maj Gen Harlan N. Hartness, 4th Div CG, and Lt Col J. A. Prall, 3d Bn CO.
They pitched into trayloads of tried chicken, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, peas, carrots, olives and relishes, bread and butter, and finished up with canned peaches and coffee.
Meanwhile, the steel-helmeted, camouflaged troops observed a tactical chow line, spacing themselves at 10-yard intervals.
Lunch over, Eisenhower strolled over to inspect Co K's kitchen and mess tent and shook hands with Sgt Edwin J. Dimes, first cook.
After a brief inspection of the command post set up by Co I, 2d Bn, the NATO commander jumped into a jeep for a ride up to a hill crest where, with field glasses, he watched troops and light tanks attack across rolling country.
At Rhine Engineer Depot near Kaiserslautern, Eisenhower made straight for sheds and other installations under construction.
Under guidance by Brig Gen Oliver W. Hughes, Rhine Military Post CG, and by Lt Col John H. Jackson, depot CO, Eisenhower strode from one piece of heavy engineering machinery to another, chatting with enlisted men.
M Sgt Robert J. Eairheart, of the 581st Engr Maint Co, showed off the giant paving machine he was bossing, told the five-star general he had helped build the Alcan Highway as a civilian.
Eisenhower finally ran across a fellow Kansan in M Sgt William H. Meeker, of Leavenworth, Kan., sergeant major of the 323d Engr Sv Bn.
"The next time you write to your folks back home, please send them my regards," Ike requested.
Shortly after 5 pm Eisenhower and party departed Kaiserslautern for Heidelberg, where he was to be guest of the EUCOM staff tonight.
Another series of inspections of troop units and Army and Air Force installations in the U.S. Zone will occupy the five-star general tomorrow. Then he plans to resume his interrupted vacation.
During his 30-minute visit this morning to Mangin Kaserne, near Mainz, Eisenhower watched soldiers of the 2d Armd Div's Combat Cmd B snap through weapons drill, including the handling of tanks, mortars, machine guns, and fire-control apparatus.
Maj Gen Williston B. Palmer. 3d Armd CG, greeted the Eisenhower party as their vehicles rolled to a stop in the Kaserne square.
Palmer and Col Briard P. Johnson, CO, Combat Cmd B, escorted the SHAPE commander to a drill with 30-cal. machine guns by Co A, 42d Armd Inf Bn.
Eisenhower chatted a moment with Lt Theodore P. Harless, Co A CO, on the placement of riflemen supporting the machine guns.
Then he watched an emplacement of 81-MM mortars by the 42d AIB's Heavy Mortar Platoon. under the direction of Lt James A. Adams, platoon leader.
But it was the M26 Patton tanks of the 66th Tank (M) Bn that principally captured Eisenhower's attention.
While tankers rotated the turrets of their armored. vehicles, Eisenhower engaged Handy, Eddy, Palmer and Lt Col Roy Lehtonen, CO of the 66th, in an animated discussion of muzzle velocity of the Patton's 90-MM gun.
Moving on to Co C of the 42d AIB, Eisenhower motioned to M Sgt John W. Lewis, directing a 60-MM mortar platoon. .
"What does a 60-MM round weigh?" he asked.
"Just a fraction under three pounds," Lewis replied.
Before departing by car for Baumholder, Eisenhower complimented Palmer and Lt. Col. G.H. Woodward, CO, 42d AIB, on the snap and dash shown by troops in the weapons drills.