Did you ever visit Schloss Neuleiningen?

From: Fred Horky
Subject: A question for Grunstadt missileers…
Date: July 27, 2020
To: Russ Reston


A question posed for your Sembach Missileers website, to those who served at Site 3 (Grunstadt): 

I was wondering how many had even just once visited the Schloss Neuleiningen…”our” castle, just down the hill and across the autobahn!

(“Neuleiningen” of course translates to “new Leiningen” ….but it was 800 years old!)

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuleiningen_Castle

But first, the Grunstadt missile site.  

No, it’s not Stalag 13.  Those who were fortunate enough to be Grunstadters will remember it as great duty!

The castle ruins are seen in the pictures below.  This view is from about half-way back down the hill to the autobahn.  

Above, the castle and its village can be seen on their little knob of a hill, directly in front of my Karmann Ghia.  The Rhine River valley is in the distance beyond the castle; the Odenwald Mountains behind Heidelberg can just be made out on the far side of the valley.  

It was one of those rare days when the weather was so nice, convertible tops came down almost automatically, and the Germans were all outside, walking around and staring at that strange yellow orb high in the sky: pictures were also taken almost as automatically.  

Grunstadt veterans will understand why, remembering all those OTHER days.  For example, below, my shot of the same Karmann-Ghia after clawing UP the hill. 

But, about the castle!  Above, it’s seen again on the other side of the autobahn from a little further down the hill, just before the access road dove under the A6 autobahn.

Above, sitting on their little hill the castle and village are viewed from the opposite direction in an aerial shot found on the internet.  The access road up to our missile launch site is seen at the upper right corner, on the far side of the autobahn.  Below, the old castle is definitely a “fixer-upper”.

As for myself, among many other adventures on that tour I made it to London, Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris, Rome, the Riviera (the latter, three times!) and may other places; but while I passed directly past Neuleiningen twice a day for a couple of years, not once did I ever get TO Neuleiningen, or its village!

Below, the castle ruins two hundred years ago, in 1800!

… and below, about the same view, today.

The 1960 picture, below, shows Ted Knutson, of one of the guidance techs on my launch crew.  This was during the original “long count” (before RFML) days.   Ted is seen standing in the castle ruins in a picture taken by Tom Bowers, another crew member.  They are the only “Grunstadters” that I know for a fact got to the castle.

This was in the early Mace era (1959-1961) before the changes to Rapid Fire Multiple Launch, when the launch crews did about everything inside the fence, from assembling/disassembling the missile, to standing alert on them….

….to mowing grass.

Fortunately, the mess hall was OUTSIDE the security fence, so contracted Germans did the “K.P.” duty.

Below, in our crew picture, Ted is standing at far left.

Sadly, Ted didn’t survive the tour, being killed in a car accident during the area’s “Weinstraße” festival in October of 1960.  Tom Bowers has passed away in recent years

Ah, the memories of working hard, and playing harder.  Looking back, I feel fortunate to have survived……

Site 3, Grunstadt 1959-1961
38th TMWg Command Post 1961-1962

Did you ever visit Schloss Neuleiningen?

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    Survey Results

    Bob Perkins
    I can remember our missile maintenance crew stopping in town on the way back to the main base for a few cold ones to take back in our crew truck. I started out in Grunstadt in 1963, maintenance crew guidance tech.
    Edward Nangle
    I think the airman mowing the grass was in FLT A Mace 76A on alert stationed at Sembach 1959-1960. Do you know his name? We were the first Mace Launch crews to arrive at Sembach
    Fred Horky
    Ed Nangle asked about the airman cutting grass. It was definitely at Grunstadt, next to the "H" building. My notes with the digitized slide said his name was Driscoll, sorry no first name. He may have also served at "A" flight, but after 60 years to even have his last name amazes me! He wasn't on my crew. Sorry, I have no further knowledge.
    James Dutcher (Dutch)
    Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, So great to see you are still posting great stuff, Fred!!!
    James Dutcher (Dutch)
    Oops, hit the return button and posted prematurely... Old age? During my 3year 10 month tour, until the site was deactivated ion '66, I visit Neuleiningen many times. I've returned many times since then and, while assigned to Germany throughout the 80s, I even hosted a couple Christmas parties in the Castle. When spargel is in season the Castle has the world's best fresh asparagus, Their stakes are also amazing. If you visit there be prepared to drive on the narrowest, slickest cobblestones ever. When I was hosting Christmas parties there, I made it a point to rent a restored room in the ancient wall. I have photos somewhere and will post if I find them. When Iooked down on that castle from the Weingut Sonnenberg, I knew I was home again. Thanks for Posting, Fred. Your photos and words are a treat.
    Kenneth Gunn
    I was a Nuclear Weapons Specialist in 1962-65. We did the PAL modification in the auto hobby shop on Site 3. Changed out all the warheads on site.
    Robert L. Bolton
    Many many many time during my 4 1/2 years living on the site at Grünstadt
    Russ Reston
    William (Bill) Goshorn
    My wife Helge, and I visited the castle on one our many trips to Kaiserslautern, to visit her parents. I was stationed at Sembach, from Feb. '61 thru Aug. '64 as a Flt. Control Tech, initially on the flight line, later when Site Dispatch was implemented. So on occasions I got to Grunstadt for PEs.
    William Schneider
    Visited the Fire Station at site 3 a few times. I was stationed at the main Fire station in the AB Control tower.
    Xavier Sendejo
    Airman Garmon was my POL man at our Grünstadt Site.!