4th Missile Bn
(Hawk-AW)
517th Artillery
Panama
Canal Zone

 

Lt. Clyde Wiley, Batteries A & B, 1962-64

 

I enjoyed browsing your site as I served as a Lieutenant with the 4th from 1962-1964.

When I arrived in 1962 -- arrived the day that Kennedy announced the Cuban blockade actually -- I was assigned to Battery A at Fort Davis. Capt. Shirley was the CO, Lt Crowl was XO, Lt Smith was one of the platoon leaders. Later Capt Shirley was transferred to Hq, maybe S1 spot, and Lt Crowl took over. He was CO just a short timer, resigned his commission and left the army, and another Lt was moved in from another battery and took over. I don't remember his name as I was transferred to Battery B at Fort Clayton at about the same time.

Battery A was a 40mm gun unit and we had pre-assigned defensive positions along the canal, mainly along the Gatun locks and Gatun dam. The main motor pool area was in an old warehouse adjacent to the canal. The guns were too wide and heavy to cross the small bridge at Gatun Locks so part of one platoon, the guns assigned to positions on Gatun dam, were housed in a small area adjacent to the locks.

When I was first transferred to Battery B at Fort Clayton. Capt Trejo was the CO. He was later replaced with Capt Schissel. Actually I think Schiessel was a 1st Lt when he took over and promoted to Capt soon after. I was sorry to read on another posting that Al passed away. Battery B defensive positions were along the Pacific side of the canal, concentrated mainly near the locks. To get to the "opposite side" positions from Clayton we normally crossed the Thatcher Ferry Bridge, but the bridge at Miraflores was supposed to be available in any actual crisis to save some time.

During that era both 40mm gun batteries did their live fire training at Pina Beach. That was just a short drive for Battery A, the main challenge was getting the Gatun side guns across the canal since they couldn't use the small bridge at the locks. This was usually done by LCM using landing sites on the third locks channel on one side and the old French canal on the other. While on the firing exercise we stayed in the old Battery McKenzie facilities in Fort Sherman. There was an LCM assigned to use as a ferry across the Chagres to get back and forth from McKenzie to Pina. The LCM was also used to retrieve any drones lost in the ocean and to set floating targets to be used for ground fire exercises.

Battery B usually drove across the isthmus to get to Pina Beach and used the same LCM exercise to get across the canal once we reached the Caribbean side. One year we did a passage through the canal on a navy LST and incorporated an amphibious landing exercise into the training schedule. As I recall we loaded at Rodman and landed at Coco Solo.

During the riots of early 1964 a large contingent of men from Battery B and HHB were assigned as a reserve force to support the infantry personnel that were manning various areas in the Canal Zone. We spent several days bivouacked between the Canal Zone Hq building and Gorgas hospital.

Clyde Wiley