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1963 Timeline
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This Page Last Updated  16 April 2016
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      All major theater activities, stateside incidents, or Cold War and Vietnam War events that affected the 720th MP Battalion’s force allocations, training, operations, deployments, morale or history are shown in Italic blue American Typewriter font.
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III Corps
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4th U.S.
Army
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1st Logistics
Command
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720th MP
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Strategic Army Command (STRAC) Duty, Fort Hood, Texas

     At the start of the year the battalion’s organic units, HQ & HQ Detachment, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Company (active less personnel and equipment) was headquartered subordinate to III Corps, U.S. 4th Army, 1st Logistics Command at Fort Hood, Texas.

     The start of the year found no change in the location or organic missions of the battalion headquarters, though national defense needs would again result in another busy year of additional war game exercises at home and abroad. Before the deployments were over, some suggested changing the battalion motto from Orderly Regulation to “Pack and Repack.” Even with their busy schedule, the volleyball team of Alpha Company managed to win the 4th Army Championship.
January

16 January The following personnel were awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal.

SP/4 Ralph E. Hardman of A Company for the time period of 8 February 1961 through 7 February 1963;

SP/4 Fred A. Schnell of HQ & HQ Detachment for the period of 14 February 1961 through 13 February 1963;

SP/4 Daniel L. Wabakken of HQ & HQ Detachment for the period of 13 February 1961 through 12 February 1963.

SP/4 Wabakken

Exact Date Unknown

Exercise RAPID ROAD

     One platoon of Alpha Company comprised of 1 officer and 49 enlisted personnel with all remaining battalion TO&E equipment departed Oxford, Mississippi via ground convoy transport for Fort Hood, Texas.

18 January The remaining personnel of Alpha Company composed of three officers and 116 enlisted personnel departed Oxford, Mississippi to Memphis Municipal Airport, Tennessee and closed via air transport at Fort Hood, Texas.

     On the same day the Alpha Company platoon with all personnel and TO&E equipment closed at Fort Hood, Texas via motor convoy.

Personal Reflections

     "We rotated additional deployments to Oxford, Mississippi with other military police units. I spent Christmas of 1962 and New Years of 1963 back in Oxford. During that deployment the area received 3 to 4 inches of snow and it was very cold. By this time we were living in the large tents that had oil stoves in them for heat.

     While there I was promoted from Private First Class to Specialist 4th Class. There was also an incident were some of the fellows obtained some local “White Lightning,” and tried to run over one of the big tents that I was in."   SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis, Able Company, 1962-1963.

SP/4 Lewis
February
Exact Date Unknown The battalion’s basketball team finished their regular season play in the 11-team Fort Hood and III Corps 1962-1963 battalion-level basketball season in second place with a record of 18-4.
1 February
Exercise IRON SPUR
     The 2nd Armored Division began a four-day exercise called IRON SPUR designed to test its command and communications strength from headquarters down through its separate companies. Part of the exercise was combined with the annual Army Training Test for the division’s 502nd MP Company. The battalion and the 1st Logistical Command provided the Umpires for the military police test. The main exercise took place within Fort Hood.
     On the same day the 1st Logistical Command at Fort Hood was named a Strategic Army Corps (STRAC) unit. The battalion was one of eleven units at Fort Hood that remain subordinate to the command.

7 February The Fort Hood Post Boy Scout Troops, operating under the Boy Scout (Fort Hood) Troop Committee celebrated their 52rd anniversary with a week-long program of troop awareness and recognition of their sponsoring units. Of the thirteen individual units there are, four Cub packs, six Scout troops and three Explorer posts. The battalion and the 2nd Battalion, 52nd Infantry, 1st Armored Division, sponsor Troop 127.

1600 hours, Provost Marshal General of the Army, MG Ralph J. Butchers arrived at Temple Municipal Airport for a two-day visit to all military police units on Fort Hood. COL Marion C. Miller, the Fort Hood Provost Marshal, greeted him at the airport. That evening MG Butchers attended an informal dinner party given in his honor.

8 February In the morning MG Butchers was welcomed during a ceremonial commander’s greeting by in front of Building No. 1 where MG Ralph E. Haines, Jr. 1st Armored Division welcomed him with a salute by Battery B, 3rd Artillery. Also present for the ceremony was a detachment of color bearers and the 720th MP Battalion honor guard, and two platoons representing the 501st and 502nd MP Companies. The 266th Army Band provided the music. Following the ceremony MG Butchers visited the deputy post commander and made a brief stop at 1st Log Command. Later that day MG Butchers observed the 720th in action in the field, and was briefed by Battalion Commander LTC Earl B. Milburn. The general viewed films of the battalion taken during Exercise SWIFT STRIKE II, and Exercise RAPID ROAD (deployment in Oxford, Mississippi).

9 February MG Butchers visited the 502nd and 501st MP Companies, followed by a visit to the post stockade and a conference with BG Frank S. Henry, III Corps chief of staff and Deputy Post Commander COL Cecil Himes.

MG Butchers
March

Exact Date Unknown During a three-day Army Training Test of the battalion, the 501st MP Company (1st Armored Division) acted as aggressors. As the aggressors the 501st first harassed the battalions march columns, conducted night raids, and generally raised havoc testing the battalion’s ability in the field. The Continental Army Command (Fort Monroe, Virginia) and the 4th Army Provost Marshal’s Office were on had as observers, while the 1st Logistics Command Provost Marshal office and 501st and 502nd MP Companies and the 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion acted as the test umpires.

     Beginning with the harassment of the march column in the vicinity of Manere Mountain, the 501st did not let up pressure until the problem was over. Stationing personnel in the battalion’s bivouac area forced the battalion to conduct thorough sweeping operations. Later that evening, the 501st attacked the command post.

     An administrative action turned a number of aggressors over to the battalion as POWs for behind-the-lines processing. Released later, the ex-prisoners continued their harassment with an ambush of a VIP escort problem conducted by the battalion on West Range Road

     Highlighting the three-day training test, the 501st changed roles and became civilians staging a riot around a simulated missile plant in North Fort Hood defended by the battalion. Delaying night march columns became a specialty of the 501st causing the battalion to lose appreciable amounts of time.

     Switching roles again, the 501st took up defense positions on the third and final day of the test in an examination of the battalion’s attacking abilities. Following the full battalion attack the test was called and the units returned to garrison.

     The 4th Army Provost Marshal observers pointed out that, the battalion’s abilities to handle traffic during a combat situation rated as best ever seen in the 4th Army area. “The unit performed its mission in an outstanding manner under superior leadership,” was in a statement released by the test umpires.
Personal Reflections
     “The 720th MP’s kept us on out toes.” Their constant surveillance and efficient patrolling made movement difficult. They played it to the hilt.”    1LT Roger T. Williams, 501st MP Company, 1st Armored Division, 1963.
15 March The battalion’s Bravo Company bowling team finished the 1962-1963 season in third place in the sixteen-team Fort Hood and III Corps Bowling Championship. In the eight-game championship competition, Bravo Company scored a total of 665 team points. PVT Francis J. Bradley won the high series title with a total of 392 pins, and his 1,447 pins placed him third in the all-event play.

17 March PFC’s Lester L. Ferrell and James Kilmerry of Bravo Company were sitting in the Fiddlers Green Service Club reading the Dallas Times Herald when they came upon a story about 17 year old Fred Wallace, a hemophilia victim who since last October had been receiving from 4 to 22 pints of blood each day, amounting to approximately 900 pints, resulting in an overwhelming debt for his mother of $17,000. They discussed the story and each soldier decided to donate one-pint of their own blood towards the care of Wallace. When they returned to the company compound they told the story to the other members of their platoon and anyone else who they came in contact with. The two soldiers then went to their company commander CPT Paul D. Kaufman and informed him they had acquired a total of 85 volunteers to contribute to the Wallace blood drive.

     By the 30th the Bravo Company list of volunteers wanting to donate had grown to 140 soldiers, and with the story spreading to the rest of the battalion companies many more soldiers were willing to sign up for the blood drive. The progress of the blood drive was driven, without command appeal, solely by the actions of PFC’s Ferrell and Kilmerry.
     The Waco Red Cross Chapter heard of the drive and volunteered to draw and process the blood from the donor’s at Fort Hood and credit it to the Wadley Research Institute Blood Bank in Dallas. The institute had supplied the blood on credit during Wallace’s treatment. It was at this time that the battalion’s company commanders stepped in to insure that all troops willing to donate would be available on 19 April. The Wallace blood donation incident turned into one of the largest individual blood drives in Fort Hood’s history. The news of the blood drive didn’t remain within the confines of Fort Hood. Word of the battalion’s efforts began to spread resulting other military and civilian organizations contributing to the cause. Before it ended the 931 pints of blood used for the treatment of Wallace were matched, 500 just from the troops of the 720th. As more blood arrived from outside sources the hospital said they would credit the excess donations against the service charges incurred during Wallace’s treatment.

     Once her son Fred was ready for release and the trip home to Muskogee, Oklahoma and a reunion with his two sisters, his mother said, “Be certain to extend my deepest appreciation to all the generous men at Fort Hood who volunteered to make donations, it means so much to us.” “To me it’s one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever encountered in my life. When total strangers, who don’t even know us have taken this situation into their hearts so warmly, willingly and ready to help us, it’s just overwhelming.”

     Prior to the departure of the Wallace’s from the hospital, they were presented a giant get-well card signed by PFC’s Farrell and Kilmerry and other members of the battalion as well as others who donated their blood.
April
17 April The battalion’s Alpha Company volleyball team took top honors in the 14-team Fort Hood and III Corps Volleyball League with a record of 12-1, and moved on to post-season play representing Fort Hood at the upcoming 4th Army Championship at Scandia Base, New Mexico.
May

Exact Date Unknown During the first week of May in preparation for the upcoming 74th annual conference of the U.S. Armored Association, the 1st Logistics Command was assigned 15 square miles of Fort Hood’s range area for a general clean up. The battalion was detailed to the mission along with elements of the 185th Ordnance Battalion, 670th Transportation Company, and the 52nd Chemical Company.

     In addition to the usual volume of paper trash and drink containers discarded along the roadways the clean up details also found, concertina wire, a child’s bike, parts of an old bridge and two stolen automobiles. With the discovery of the vehicles the battalion MPs immediately went to work. One vehicle had been burnt-out and was hauled away by a wrecker, while the other, a 1959 model that had been partially stripped, was left for an insurance adjuster to examine. The late model vehicle was identified as having been stolen from Waco, Texas, and investigations were initiated.
Exact Date Unknown The battalion’s PFC Blake Smith obtained his Federal Aviation Administration commercial pilot’s license and instructors rating through a training program offered by the Fort Hood Aero Club.
1-4 May The battalion’s Alpha Company volleyball team now representing Fort Hood defeated Sandia Base (New Mexico) winning the 4th Army Championship. The team’s top player, PFC Walter Utro, was one of two soldiers from the league selected to participate in post-season trails for a slot on the U.S. Army Team.

12 May

Exercise RAPID ROAD

     An advance detachment from Bravo departed Fort Hood for Oxford, Mississippi to prepare for routine rotational duty at University of Mississippi Oxford, Mississippi for 65 days under Exercise RAPID ROAD.

15 May The bulk of Bravo Company commanded by CPT Paul D. Kaufman departed Gray Air Force Base for deployment to Oxford, Mississippi.

17 May The remaining troops of Bravo Company arrived at Oxford from Fort Hood, Texas to relieve and replace Alpha Company, 716th Battalion on station.

     In the Fort Hood and III Corps Softball League, the battalion’s Alpha Company was tied for third place with the 670th Transportation Company with a record of 6-3 in the ten-team National League, while HQ & HQ Detachment was in eight place of the ten-team American League.

WANTED: Information, photographs or personal stories relating to the battalion deployment to Oxford regardless of your deployment date. Please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

     In Korea a U.S. Army OH-23 helicopter was forced down north of the DMZ. Its two officers were held by the North Korean Army for approximately one year before being returned.

June
Mr. McDowell

3 June At the University of Mississippi, Oxford a court order was issued to allow a second Negro student to register for classes. Mr. Cleve McDowell age 21 of Drew, Mississippi, an honor graduate of Jackson State College wanted to attend the University’s law school. Although the college administration welcomed his registration, they had a legitimate fear that Governor Barnett who still openly opposed the university’s segregation would fan the still smoldering embers creating another racial disturbance.

     The Oxford Area Command met with the University administration and it was decided that Bravo Company would remain in the background ready to respond if needed while the FBI and Marshal’s Service continued the Peanut Patrol on Campus. Mr. McDowell was to receive the same protection as Mr. Meredith. However, there is some dispute alleging that he was actually on his own.

5 June 0815 hours, Oxford Area Command forces to include Bravo Company, went on full alert with the summer registration of both Mr. McDowell and Mr. Meredith. No crowds gathered and the Governor did not appear on campus.

Communist Expansion in Southeast Asia

     Following the 1962 withdrawal of the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (USMAAG) - Laos under the terms of the Geneva Agreement which was to make Laos a neutral country, Soviet [Russian] and Chinese Communist supported North Vietnamese Army trained guerilla group pressure that previously had been contained in Laos, crossed the border to spread subversion in the northern Thailand frontier area. Fortunately, the pro-western Thai government recognized the increase in the communist subversive activities to train and indoctrinate the Thai villagers in guerilla warfare.

     Although the only armed communist activity at the time being conducted was by a few Malayan communist guerillas in the Thai-Malay border area, the existence in Northeast Thailand of well disciplined Viet Minh [Viet Cong] – controlled pockets of Vietnamese refugees, totaling 40 to 50 thousand, represented a potential for insurgency that could be exploited by the communist at will.

CLICK ON MAP FOR ENLARGEMENT

     Like the insurgency, the most serious threat of armed subversive activity also was in Northeast Thailand where the anti-western cadre received aid and direction from the association of pro-communist Thai exiles in Laos.

     Toward the end of the year the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand submitted a revised Assistance Strategy Statement for Thailand to the Department of State. This statement had the approval of all elements of the U.S. diplomatic mission, and provided broad strategy and objectives for Agency for International Development (AID) and military assistance programs. The coverage of the external threat to Thailand in the statement was particularly significant since it indicated that Chief, Joint Military Advisory Group (CHJUSMAG) Thailand have been able to arrive at an evaluation of the external threat that was acceptable to all elements.

     An increase in U.S. aid was directed by the Thai government to increase ongoing civic action programs to counter the current communist indoctrination missions in the area. In addition CHJUSMAG prepared a plan for the ground defense of Thailand that incorporated the redeployment of certain Thai Army units from the Bangkok area to the north and northeast areas to support counterinsurgency and national defense efforts that included staging of military units, air support facilities, logistics, and repair and construction of existing and new roadways and bridges.

     In 1963 with the growing communist insurgency expansion throughout Southeast Asia, the U.S. also began a prepositioning of air, naval and army forces throughout the Pacific theater.

Exercise TIDAL WAVE (Dhanarajata)
     In response to the communist threat from Laos, a Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) military exercise named Tidal Wave (Dhanarajata) was conducted in Thailand as a 'show of force' to the communist movement.
Thailand

     Editors Note: The name Dhanarajata is an alternative spelling of the Thi language for the name “Thanarat.” Sarit Thanarat was a former Field Marshal (June 16, 1908 – December 8, 1963) who was a Thai career soldier that staged a coup in 1957, thereafter serving as Thailand’s Prime Minister until his death in 1963. During his years as Prime Minister Sarit was a patron of his cousin, the Laotian strongman General Phoumi Nosavan who lead the fight against the communist Pathet Lao guerillas in the neighboring Kingdom of Laos.

11-24 June 

Exercise TIDAL WAVE

  A total of some 25,000 military personnel from all SEATO nations participated in Exercise TIDAL WAVE. These include 17,000 Thais, 7,449 U.S. (in addition to the 4,218 U.S. military personnel already stationed there), and approximately 1,000 from the Commonwealth nations (United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) and the Philippines, France and Pakistan.                                                                                                              Patch of U.S. Military Assistance Command Thailand >

U.S.
U.K.
Australia
New Zealand
Philippines
France
Pakistan

     U.S. forces participating in the exercise consisted of one infantry battle group from Hawaii, one airborne brigade from Okinawa, one tactical fighter squadron (18 F-400’s), tactical reconnaissance fighters (4 RF-101’s), and transport aircraft (14 C-130’s). In addition, the 315th Air Division and MATS aircraft were utilized during deployment, exercise, and redeployment to provide airlift to all Services.

     For the exercise, a Commonwealth brigade (one rifle company each from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, each representing a battalion), with fighter, bomber and transport aircraft participated. France, Pakistan and the Philippines also provided headquarters staff officers. The Philippine contribution consisted of elements of their Army ordnance and engineer units. The Thais utilized four of their regimental combat teams, special-forces units and aircraft.

     It was planned that the U.S. battle group from Hawaii would remain in Thailand until some time after 5 July 1963, for further training and area indoctrination. They were later redesignated as the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

     While the French Colonial Forces battled the Viet Minh in Tonkin (Hanoi area) between 1945 and 1953, some 45,000 North Vietnamese refugees fled the hostilities and moved into Thailand where they settled. There were also approximately 9,000,000 Thais of Laotian heritage (Lao’s) also settled in the country. Neither the Vietnamese nor Lao’s held any sense of nationality or loyalty to the Thai government. Communist infiltrator’s, both Viet Cong and Pathet Lao, were sneaking into Thailand and instigating rebellion of the Vietnamese and Lao’s against the local district and national governments.

     Spurred by the discovery of hidden Communist arms caches and reports of supply drops by parachute in the northeast, Thai Premier Sarit Thanarat began an aggressive civic action and counterinsurgency program to counteract communist influence in the area before it got out of hand. With two-thirds of Laos now under communist control, his primary concern was a major cross border communist offensive against the Thai countryside.

     With the SEATO Headquarters located in Bangkok, Premier Sarit called on them to stage a large scale training exercise as a show of solidarity and force, as well as providing his tough modern-equipped 85,000 man Army- training in large scale counterinsurgency tactics.

     Editors Note: There was also a story behind the story. Before the exercise, the U.S. also contracted a private study conducted during the exercise, on the feasibility of long-range transport aircraft capabilities for air-tanker refueling, and non-stop landing on temporary short runway jungle airfields. Their new and yet to be tested C-141 transport plane was scheduled to begin coming off the assembly line in early 1964, and it would become the reliable workhorse of the U.S. military airlift missions during the soon to come Vietnam War.
720th Deployed to Thailand

     1LT Pitt Watts, III, Commanding Officer, Headquarters Detachment, and thirty-three enlisted men from Alpha and Bravo Companies were deployed to Thailand in support of Exercise TIDAL WAVE.

     The battalion’s platoon operations when they worked with the civilian authorities during the maneuvers were conducted around Korat in central Thailand, approximately 157 miles northeast of the capital Bangkok.
Personal Reflections

     "The MP's packed their gear, updated their shots and attended a five day crash course in Thai-related topics of history, geography, customs and cursory language training conducted by two NCO's from a Fort Hood Army Intelligence Battalion. No organic vehicles were taken and the only weapons issued were their .45 caliber duty pistols and nightsticks.

     The joint platoon boarded a C-124 Globemaster at Connelly Air Force Base in Waco, Texas for a four day flight to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, north of Bangkok. About an hour outbound from the island of Guam (at that time an unincorporated organized territory of the United States) the aircraft developed problems when one of its four engines shutdown requiring an immediate emergency turnaround and the transfer of troops and gear to another C-124 to continue the transport.

     When the platoon landed at Korat, Thailand it was moved to nearby Camp Friendship 157 miles to the Northeast of the Thai capital of Bangkok, just outside the city of Nakhon Rachasmia (also know as Korat or Khorat City) adjoining the Korat air base to join a squad of U.S. Army airborne MP's that previously deployed from the island of Okinawa, Japan.

     Also stationed at the camp for the exercise was a group of Royal New Zealand (Kiwi) Air Force Police from Tengan Air Force Base, Singapore, then a self-governing protectorate of the British Commonwealth.

Camp Friendship 1963

     At Camp Friendship vehicles were issued to the U.S. MP’s, however, none contained radios or bumper markings identifying them as military police. Subsequently, a formal military police station was established and a joint town patrol began with the airborne MP's and the New Zealand 'Kiwis'.

     Several primitive beer-bars quickly sprang up outside the camp that presented the patrols some challenges. On one night a disorderly U.S. paratrooper taken into custody refused to ride in a patrol vehicle. He insisted on double-timing back to camp. On another day, a Thai Pedicab driver handed over approximately $100 that a drunk U.S. soldier lost in his vehicle. The Battalion MP's had to convince the driver to accept a token reward.

     One particular mission assigned by the camp commander was rather controversial. He ordered the MP's to frisk all the soldiers who were on liberty. The operation resulted in many flip-knives, daggers and even medical scalpels being confiscated. Fortunately, the legality of the searches did not become an issue because no one was apprehended or cited.

     On weekends, several MP's drove down to Bangkok for joint patrols with Royal Thai Police and other allied SEATO MP's. It was common then to see a colorful group of 'lawmen' strolling the streets or checking a nightspot. The joint patrols consisted of: a Thai Police Officer, a Royal Thai MP, an American MP, a Kiwi MP, a Filipino MP and sometimes others.

     Once or twice Royal Thai Crime Suppression officers would escort the Battalion MP's on backstage tours of local nightclubs. That weekend duty was a choice detail.”  SGT (MSG Retired) Otto H. Uebel, B Company, 1963.

MSG (Ret.) Uebel

 

WANTED: Information, photographs or personal stories relating to Exercise TIDAL WAVE, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of the page.
Miscellaneous Photographs of Exercise TIDAL WAVE
B0079
  U.S. Army, Australian and New Zealand Military Police joint patrols enjoy themselves at the Wolverine Club.
 
17 June Under a phased troop reduction plan, Bravo Company returned to Fort Hood from Oxford, Mississippi. Company A of the 716th MP Battalion was designated as the sole military police unit on station and would remain until the Oxford federal deployment officially ended at 1200 hours on 24 July.

 

28 June For the fourth straight year the battalion received the coveted 4th Army Command Superior STRAC Unit Award (certificate and streamer) for the training year of 1962 under General Orders No. 33, Headquarters 4th U.S. Army, 16 April 1963. The Superior Award cited a rating of 95.3 representing the highest numerical rating ever posted by the battalion.

     At a formal ceremony held before 700 combat-uniformed troops at Fowler Field, the award was presented by LG Thomas W. Dunn, III Corps and Fort Hood commander to five units of the 2nd Armored Division and the battalion, one of four non-divisional units of Fort Hood.

 

Personal Reflections
    “To the best of my knowledge there is no other MP unit that has received four successive STRAC superior awards. This is my third MP battalion and by far the best I have served in.”    MAJ Karl E. Nestler (S3), HQ & HQ Detachment, 1963.

 

Exact Date Unknown Members of Alpha Company formed into 15-man teams acted as aggressor forces in a four-day field training exercise carried out on Fort Hood to prepare the 670th Transportation Company’s 130 troops operating fifty 12-ton tractor-trailers for the upcoming Exercise SWIFT STRIKE III.

 

Personal Reflections
    “They really did us a lot of good. They [Alpha Company] used psychological warfare, CBR, infiltration and general harassment. Much of the success of our exercise is due to their support .”    CPT Michael J. McCarthy, Commander, 670th Transportation Company, 1963.

 

July
Personal Reflections
      “The Battalion was being reorganizing due to the buildup in Vietnam. Those members with plenty of time remaining in their tours were sent to C Company. I was due for discharge in July and remained in A Company, and other members who were just months from discharge were also assigned to A Company.”    SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis, Able Company, 1962-1963.
7 July Bravo Company returned to Fort Hood, Texas from their 16 May redeployment to Oxford, Mississippi.
Personal Reflections
        “We managed to get the company [Bravo] back from Mississippi in time for the men to move out for SWIFT STRIKE-III.”   MAJ Karl Nestler, Battalion XO, HQ & HQ Detachment.

21 July

Joint Exercise SWIFT STRIKE III
     The battalion, minus Bravo Company arrived at Greenwood Municipal Airport, South Carolina for further movement to Kesrhaw, and Saluda Counties for participation in Exercise SWIFT STRIKE III.

     Bravo Company with eight officers, two warrant officers and 113 enlisted personnel arrived in three increments at Fort Gordon, Georgia via Bush Field Airport, Augusta, Georgia tasked with supporting Exercise Swift Strike III at Aiken in Aiken County, South Carolina.

     SWIFT STRIKE III involved the 82nd Airborne, 5th Mechanized Infantry, and 2nd Infantry Division’s. Approximately 100,000 soldiers and airmen were deployed for the joint exercise. Officially, the purpose of this massive exercise was to train major combat organizations as a highly mobile, hard-hitting, joint land and air team.

     Unofficially, the Army, Navy and Air Force were bitter rivals, especially for their piece of the Pentagon defense budget allocations. The Army airborne had developed rapidly in the past decade and while improving on their own long-range paratroop air transport capabilities, they were still examining and experimenting with the helicopter supported airmobile infantry strategy. If successful, it would reduce the Air Force support down to cargo transport and a small piece of the direct air combat ground support, which the Navy and Marine Corps also had their eye on. The result was inter-service rivalry became the bottom line of the exercise.

     Prior to the start of the massive maneuvers the battalion had its hands full simply directing traffic. They guided the entire 2nd Infantry Division into its maneuver area, as well as III Corps, 1st Logistical Command and elements of the 5th Mechanized Infantry Division.

     During the maneuvers the battalion started out as a tactical unit of III Corps under LTC Joseph Verde, the Corps Deputy Provost Marshal. But after the first week the need for military police assistance from surrounding civilian communities became known. Responding to the civil authorities requests for help, the battalion was soon maintaining MP desks in six cities and towns, and performing various police jobs.

Personal Reflections
     “For the itinerant 720th, it’s understandable that packing and repacking is one of our biggest problems.”   1LT Fernando Zalduondo, XO, Bravo Company, 1963.
Personal Reflections
     “When we get back from a move, we’re usually working like mad for two or three days just to catch up.”  SP/4 Everett Fuller, Bravo Company, 1963.
26 July An increase in Fort Hood military police nighttime patrols in conjunction with the Bell County State Highway Patrol were credited for a decrease in motor vehicle accidents and fatalities involving military personnel on the heavily traveled 17-mile stretch of Highway 190 from Belton to Killeen, Texas, in a report issued by the state patrol through the Fort Hood Provost Marshal’s Office.
August
23 August All battalion elements, plus personnel from the 513th Quartermaster Battalion, minus nine enlisted personnel of Bravo Company who departed via air, returned to Fort Hood, Texas from Exercise SWIFT STRIKE III in four transport increments
Personal Reflections
    “You may not particularly like it when you’re on these STRAC excursions, but it does make the time go faster.”   SP/4 Gary Hodorski, (company clerk) Bravo Company, 1963.
September

Exact Date Unknown Alpha Company won third place and $10.00 cash prize in the September Green Thumb Contest of the post units “best kept landscaping” competition judged by the Killeen, Castle Heights and Seed & Weed Garden Clubs.

19 September LTC Milburn was temporarily assigned to Fort Belvoir, Virginia for reasons not stated. MAJ Karl E. Nestler, the battalion executive officer, became the interim commander pending the colonel’s return scheduled for 12 October.

23-27 September
Exercise LEFT HOOK
     Battalion elements did not participate in, but provided military police support to the 1st Armored Division (Old Ironsides) during the Army Training Test war game exercise held on Fort Hood.
MAJ Nestler
26 September The Fort Hood military police units celebrated the 22nd Anniversary of the Military Police Corps. Ceremonies were officiated by the military police chain of command, COL George A. Bien III Corps and Fort Hood provost marshal, COL William T. McClary deputy III Corps and Fort Hood provost marshal and LTC Joe Verde the deputy III Corps provost marshal.
October

1-4 October

Exercise THUNDER
      The battalion was assigned to support the 2nd Armored Division (Hell On Wheels) field training exercise war game being held on Fort Hood by setting up a Prisoner of War cage at North Fort Hood. The war game exercise took the form of the armored divisions response to an aggressor force detonating an atomic bomb on a bridge.

7 October The battalion’s HQ & HQ Detachment flag football team finished their regular season by winning first place in the American League Division of the Fort Hood and III Corps Flag Football League with a record of 7-1. They went on to play for the league championship but failed to place high enough in the competition to move to further post-season play.

11 October The battalion was identified as the current operational check point unit in a report and public news release issued on a three-week old continuing program to curb speeding on Fort Hood through the use of the new S-5 Radarmatic Radar Machine assisted check points. The MP patrols have issued 100 speeding tickets by targeting dangerous stretches of road, play areas of children, housing areas and open roadways. The program was scheduled to continue indefinitely.

20 October Each year the 1st Armored Division (Old Ironsides) designates one Sunday as Layman Sunday during which the Protestant Chaplains of Fort Hood step down to allow laymen to address the congregations from the pulpit. Battalion Commander LTC Earl B. Milburn conducted the worship service and COL John H. Cobb G3 of the 1st Armored Division read the scriptures at the Brigade Avenue East Chapel.

22 October

Exercise BIG LIFT

     In the early morning of October 22, 1963, soldiers of the 2nd Armored Division (Iron Deuce) lumbered up with their gear and individual weapons to an assembly of large cargo aircraft from the Military Air Transportation Service (MATS). Their destination was Germany. In over 72 hours, the division, two artillery battalions, and assorted transportation units from around the country made the day-long flight across the Atlantic. An air strike force went as well. Altogether, the planes made over 200 flights, ferrying some 15,000 personnel and nearly 500 tons of equipment, one quarter of which belonged to the Army. It was the largest trans-oceanic Army – Air Force deployment even made. The operation was a test as well as demonstration of the United States capability for rapid reinforcement of NATO forces any where in the world.

     The battalion mission was to provide a controlled flow for the hundreds of trucks, troop busses and armored vehicles involved in the BIG LIFT motor convoys from Fort Hood to the three departure airfields.

23 October The battalion was reorganized (less Charlie Company, active less personnel and equipment) as an Army Battalion, under TO&E 19-35E, 1961, TO&E 300-21, 300-24 and 300-25 apply with a strength of 18 officers, 5 warrant officers and 435 enlisted personnel.

25 October The battalion was cited as one of several post units that reached the 100 percent or more of their fair share donation towards the 1963 Fort Hood United Fund drive goal of $100,000.
November

1 November The battalion was assigned readiness status Category C1: the unit possesses the required resources and is trained to undertake the full wartime mission.

2 November In South Vietnam, President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were killed in a military coup. His regime accused of corruption, ineptitude in fighting a strong war effort against the communist and pro-Catholic and anti-Buddhist favoritism drew opposition from several quarters.

     The U.S. government, believing he was too weak a leader to carry on the war effort, stepped aside and allowed the coup to take place, but did not sanction the killings.

     The leader of the military coup, General Dùóng Van Minh, a staunch anti-communist an enthusiastic and dedicated military leader, replaced Diem and held the office under the title of Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Committee (junta), until he went into exile 8 February 1964.

Diem
Minh

12 November Once again LTC Milburn was temporarily assigned, this time to U.S. Army, Provisional Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), South Korea. MAJ Nestler, again became the interim commander pending the colonels expected return on 6 February 1964.

15 November The battalion was reorganized, less Charlie Company (active without personnel or equipment) under TO&E 19-35E, TO&E 300-21, 300-24 and 300-25 applied with a strength of eighteen officers, five warrant officers, and 435 enlisted men

LTC Milburn
MAJ Nestler
President Kennedy Assassinated In Dallas, Texas
Kennedy

22 November, 1230 Hours (CST) The country and the free world came to a sudden stop with the news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (D) in Dallas, Texas. Within forty minutes, Lee Harvey Oswald, an ex-marine, admitted communist and pro-Cuban sympathizer, was arrested as the assassin

     Within hours, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson (D) from Texas was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States. Also wounded in the shooting was Texas Governor John B. Connally (D). To add to the tragedy and controversy, within days Oswald would be shot to death in front of television cameras in the Dallas Police Department headquarters basement by a local nightclub owner named Jack Ruby.

     Upon the news of the Presidents death the entire battalion was placed on STRAC alert until a determination was made that it was not a prelude to an attack by Soviet Russia.

Johnson
Oswald
     On the same day The Armored Sentinel Newspaper ran an article on the duties of the forty-five post Chaplain’s who regularly administer to the troops of the Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, Christian Science, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, First Family Church, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian faiths. In addition to his regular ministry duties the battalion’s Chaplain, CPT James R. Linderman, also provides a “chaplains hours” of talk, discussion and when requested, individual counseling services to the Protestant troops confined in the post stockade.
1963 Miscellaneous Photographs Index
This Index contains miscellaneous photographs from 1963 that have yet to be directly linked to any specific Battalion Timeline event. If you can date any of the events depicted, or identify them as part of a specific event, operation, exercise or special duty assignment, please use the Email Link on the photograph or this page to notify the History Project Manager.
A "?" preceding the photo number denotes further identifications are needed, and an Email Link is provided.
Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment
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 WANTED: Your 1963 photographs. Please contact the History Project Manager at the Email Link provided at the top of this page.
Alpha Company
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 WANTED: Your 1963 photographs.
Bravo Company
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 WANTED: Your 1963 photographs.
Charlie Company
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 WANTED: Your 1963 photographs.