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Cooke Barracks
A Chronology, 1945-2005

Prehistory

In a meadow north of Göppingen, where cows grazed and the people celebrated May Day, the entrepreneur Carl Hommel built a Flugplatz (airfield) for civilian use, opening it in April 1930. During the summer of 1935, the airfield was acquired and expanded by the Luftwaffe into a 300-acre garrison and facility called the Fliegerhorst Kaserne (in effect, air force base). An air reconnaissance group was based there from 1936 until the outbreak of war in 1939, and from 1941 through 1944 Luftwaffe pilots were trained there.

April 20, 1945: Göppingen surrenders to U.S. Army troops
The 10th Armored Division, famed for its part in the Battle of the Bulge, accepted the city's surrender. Adolf Hitler killed himself on April 30, and Germany's unconditional surrender followed on May 7.

1945 - 1949: Occupants of the Fliegerhorst Kaserne
Displaced persons were housed in the barracks by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and the International Refugee Organization: homeless Jews, former slave laborers, refugees from eastern Europe. The 54th Field Hospital, a unit of the 36th Infantry Division, and other American units passed through Göppingen after Germany's surrender but did not occupy the Kaserne.

Cooke Barracks

August 18, 1949: Cooke Barracks receives its name
European Command (EUCOM) General Orders Number 81 renamed the Fliegerhorst Kaserne, also known as the "Luftwaffen Kaserne," in honor of CPT Charles H. Cooke, Jr., Battery B, 32d Field Artillery Battalion. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Soldier's Medal for gallantry in action during his unit's landing at Gela, Sicily on July 11, 1943.

1949 - 1951: U.S. armed forces at Cooke Barracks
Which American unit, if any, occupied Cooke Barracks during this period is not known. If displaced persons were still housed there, they would have been moved out to another camp no later than 1951. There was such a camp near the Cooke Barracks main gate as late as 1963.

November 24, 1950: 7th U.S. Army reactivated in Stuttgart
By the end of 1951, 7th Army included two corps and five divisions (four infantry, one armored), one of the divisions having its HQ at Cooke Barracks.

1951 - 1953: Cooke Barracks built up for use as a Division HQ
In addition to the headquarters, barracks, a garage and motor pool, and other military necessities, reconditioned from Luftwaffe buildings or newly built, other facilities such as the post theater, PX, and photo lab were built when the first American units arrived. The officers' and family housing areas, as well as the chapel, service club, NCO and EM Clubs, snack bar, bowling alley, and the 9-hole golf course, were added during the 1950s to create a "little America" for servicemen and their dependents. Here is an aerial photograph of Cooke Barracks as it was at the end, and here is a map showing its streets (named) and buildings (not named).

November 26, 1951 - May 25, 1954: 28th Infantry Division
The first division-level HQ at Cooke Barracks, deployed there from Camp Atterbury, IN. At the end, 28th Infantry Division was redesignated as the 9th Infantry Division.

May 25, 1954 - October 9, 1956: 9th Infantry Division
Activated at Cooke Barracks with the personnel and materiel of the 28th Infantry Division. At the end, 9th Infantry Division was rotated to Fort Carson, CO in "Operation Gyroscope."

October 9, 1956 - December 13, 1957: 8th Infantry Division
Rotated to Germany from Fort Carson, CO, in "Operation Gyroscope," replacing the 9th Infantry Division at Cooke Barracks. At the end, 8th Infantry Division moved to Hindenburg Kaserne, Bad Kreuznach, renaming it Maurice Rose Kaserne.

December 13, 1957 - May 10, 1971: 4th Armored Division
Rotated to Germany from Fort Hood, TX, in "Operation Gyroscope," replacing the 8th Infantry Division at Cooke Barracks. At the end, 4th Armored Division was redesignated as the 1st Armored Division and deactivated.

May 10, 1971 - March 1972: 1st Armored Division
Activated at Cooke Barracks with the personnel and materiel of the 4th Armored Division. At the end, 1st Armored Division moved to Hindenburg Kaserne, Ansbach; the exact date of the move is not known.

March 1972 - August 15, 1991: 1st Infantry Division (Forward)
Moved from Augsburg, replacing the 1st Armored Division at Cooke Barracks; exact date of arrival is unknown. Notice of inactivation was received in summer 1990. Members of the 4th Battalion 16th Infantry, Detachment 1 of the 101st Military Intelligence Battalion, and others were sent to Saudi Arabia in December for Operation Desert Storm, returning to Göppingen on May 8, 1991. Meanwhile the 1st Infantry Division (Forward) transferred its equipment to other units in Europe and to units deploying to the Gulf, and was inactivated at Cooke Barracks on August 15.

August 15, 1991 - February 27, 1992: Closing down the base
HQ & HQ Co., Goeppingen Military Community, commanded by LTC Jon Goodman, readied Cooke Barracks for inactivation. About 30 military personnel remained on post until the end.

February 28, 1992: Cooke Barracks handed over to the German government
LTC Goodman turned over the base to the Stuttgart office of the Bundesvermögensamt, which administers German government property. Göppingen's Oberbürgermeister (mayor) Hans Haller attended the ceremony. The property was eventually acquired by the city of Göppingen.

Postmortem

February 29, 1992 - present: Redevelopment of the Flugplatz
The troop barracks were first used to house asylum seekers from eastern Europe and elsewhere. These and others of the military buildings have since been demolished. Those that remain, most of them renovated, include the family and officers' housing, post engineers' buildings, hangars, chapel (now a cultural center), and MP gatehouse (now a bar and restaurant called Die Wache, "The Guard"). The Flugplatz is now a new Göppingen district named Stauferpark where high-tech commercial installations, three residential areas, and recreational facilities are growing among the familiar streets. But the Göppingers haven't forgotten their former neighbors: they still celebrate "American Days" every August.


Compiled by John Francis, 504th Admin Co., 1966-1968. Please send corrections and improvements to jfrancis51@nyc.rr.com.

Thanks especially to Alec Farrell and Bill Swingler and also to Matt Angelucci, George W. Bravo, Ken S. Chan, Matthew Cheers, LTC Mitchell D. Franks, JA (Ret), John Gibson, Dan Gislason, Michael J. Mannion, George Matchette, Brian R. McCoy, Craig Nelson, T.A. Roberts, and Richard H. Robison for their information, David Wisniewski for the aerial photograph, and Scott Reed for the map link.

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