Defense Area Communication Control - Europe By Douglass Donnell

In 1961 Dreux became home to DACCC/Eur, the European arm of the newly formed Defense Communications Agency. Here's a little background on the unit.

In the late 50's the Eisenhower administration became concerned about the duplication among the services' communications systems and studies eventually led to the formation of the Defense Communications Agency (DCA) in May of 1960. In a nutshell, the idea was to establish general purpose communications systems that all services could use and eliminate "stovepipe" systems where different services were paying for overlapping capabilities. There were numerous situations where the Air Force and Navy, for example, would be leasing circuits going to and from the same locations. So, shortly after DCA's formation, it was decided to create a Defense Area Communications Control Center (DACCC) in the European and the Pacific theaters to oversee operations in those areas. Although the logical place to locate the new organization in Europe would have been close to the various US headquarters in the Paris area, no suitable space could be found. I'm personally convinced from conversations with my father years later that the military services were very resistant to the idea of subordinating their communications systems to the new joint organization (DCA), so may have thought that by banishing the new DACCC to a phased down base in the distant farmlands of Normandy, it might just go away. So DACCC was offered space at Dreux Air Base.

In June of 1961 the initial cadre of DACCC personnel was temporarily assigned to Wiesbaden, Germany to activate the unit with the plan to move operations to Dreux as soon as possible. Almost simultaneously the first DACCC personnel began to filter into Dreux and a USAF Engineering and Installation unit was dispatched to Dreux to modify Building 132 as a temporary location to begin operations on the base. Full time operations of DACCC-Eur were shifted to Dreux on 1 September 1961 under the command of Colonel George Zahn.

Modification of a nearby facility (Building 143) began in March 1962 to house a permanent location for DACCC-Eur. This involved extensive modifications to the structure including installation of power and air conditioning systems and backup generators to support a large computer that would serve as the heart of the DACCC mission.

By late 1962 it became obvious (my speculation) to the military services that DCA and DACCC-Eur were there to stay and it also became obvious (again my speculation) that coordinating with a group that had control of their communications circuits that was a distant 60 miles away was not in their best interest. So, in December 1962 "discovered" that sufficient space existed at Camp des Loges near Paris to house DACCC-Eur and USCINCEUR approved the move. The plan to relocate required Secretary of Defense approval which was given in March, 1963. A new building was constructed at Camp des Loges and DACCC relocated in early September, 1963, thus ending their time at Dreux.

As a closing comment, it was not lost on me, even as a 12 year old, that this was a pretty silly way to do business. DACCC moved into their newly completed facilities in Building 143 at Dreux just in time to have to shut it all down and move to Paris. What a waste. What was even more depressing to me was that meant that I would have to leave Dreux behind and spend my last year in France in the suburbs of Paris. Paris may have sounded a bit more glamorous, but, in reality, it was anything but. I went from being having the entire base as my playground to living in a small, 3 bedroom apartment in the suburbs. My 10 minute walk to school was replaced by an hour bus ride. Fortunately I did get to return from time to time and spent my last summer back at Dreux staying with a friend before my family moved back to the States.

In writing this article, I borrowed heavily from information researched by Chuck Timms and contained on the we  for information about the early days of DACCC. My special thanks to all involved in gathering this info as it filled in quite a few blanks in my memory. Also it might be of interest to those reading on this Memories of Dreux website to know the names of some of the original members of DACCC-Eur. These came from both Chuck Timms' research and my memory:

* Officers:

o Col George A. Zahn (USAF), Chief of DACCC-Eur

o Lt Col E.R. Daniels (USMC), Deputy Chief

o Cdr J.E. Butler, USN, Operations Officer

o Lt Col Robert W. Stowbridge (USA),Chief, Plans and Engineering Division

o Mr. Aubrey A. Childers, DoD Civ, Chief Communications Engineer

o Lt Col Charles R. Rambo (USA), Chief Plans and Engineering following Lt Col Stowbridge

o Lt Col Thomas M. Holimon (USA), Chief, Plans Branch

o Lt Col Carroll H. Donnell (USAF), Chief, Control Division (my father!!)

o Lt Col Alfred M. Carter (USA), Chief, Control Branch

* Enlisted:

o YNCM H.H. Boyden, USN

o YN1 H.M. Smith, USN

o MSGT D.L. Matson, USA

o SSGT J.R. Heimbach, USA

o SSGT L.R.E. Hersey, USA

o SSGT D.E. Hoskins, USA

o SFC C.J. Clark, USA

o SFC R.B. Walters, USA

o RMCM R.S. Burham, USN

o RM1 G.W. Kerber, USN

o RM1 R.D. Witt, USN

o MA1 J.W. Stutzman, USN

o RM1 R.D. Young, USN

o RM2 P.W. Savage, USN

o SSGT Reilly, USAF

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