The Giessen Depot, once known as the Giessen Support Center, also home of the 284th BSB Headquarters, is located in Giessen, a city situated in northeast Hesse approximately 60 miles north of Hanau. The 284th BSB was officially activated in a ceremony in Giessen on April 24, 1998. Pendleton Barracks is located just a few blocks from Giessen Depot.
This 522-acre plot of ground, former grazing fields for the local farming community, was identified in 1920 as an ideal landing site for small aircraft. During that time an unknown entrepreneur ran an aerial sightseeing service and private flying school there. Even the German airline "Lufthansa" thought Giessen to be a perfect place to start regular passenger and cargo services and developed the air strip in 1929. Soon the growing German "Luftwaffe" (Air Force) took notice, built the Giessen airport and began training pilots and technicians there.
During WWII a bomber group occupied the base. Late in the war the bombers were relocated and a school for German Air Force technicians and mechanics was established here. Giessen suffered heavily from the bombardments during the final year of WWII. The 56th Quartermasters landed in Normandy on D-Day, established operation centers in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, and arrived in Giessen June 15, 1945. The base was in shambles. Nevertheless US Army supply operations have been successfully carried out from this location under different leadership ever since.
In 1969 the area was split into the Giessen Army Depot and the Support Activity Giessen (AAFES Redistribution Center). The Giessen Depot is now home to field artillery units, engineers, MPs, BSB agencies and other small detachments.
In addition seven other facilities are also part of the 284th BSB. They are: Dulles and Marshall Housing areas and Pendleton Barracks in Giessen. Housing areas in the Friedberg area are Alvin York and McArthur. The vast majority of families in the 284th BSB live in Roman Way and Schloss Housing in Butzbach, a small community between Giessen and Friedberg.
The independent Giessen military community was reflagged during the drawdown and became the 234th BSB, part of the 104th Area Support Group. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and consequent further realignment in USAREUR, additional drawdown measures were executed. The U.S. military in the greater Giessen area became a part of the 414th BSB with headquarters in Hanau.
The 284th BSB went through many changes over the last few years. The most recent one was preparing Ayers Kaserne in Kirch-Göns for return to the federal German government. Despite moving into better facilities in Friedberg and Giessen, it was not easy for some of the soldiers to say good-bye to Ayers Kaserne. Built by the U.S. forces in 1952-1953 it was an integral part of U.S. military history in Germany.
The garrison at the Giessen Depot, while hosting over 2,000 troops, also received new support facilities: tearing down of buildings at Gruenberger Strasse is scheduled to be followed by construction of a new PX and Commissary for roughly 37 million Deutsch Marks on an area of 9000 square meters in October 2001. Meanwhile military leaders wait for a training area in the immediate neighborhood. Immediately after standing up a garrison in 1997 they were striving to obtain the area. At that time the garrison was the home of about 1000 soldiers and 320 vehicles. American Armed Forces are annoyed about the costs caused by the training of the locally stationed Engineer and Field Artillery battalions. These costs arise because each time a complicating large amount of men and equipment has to be moved to distant training areas. After Wetzlar, whose former Bundeswehr training area would have been favored by the US Army, has denied the request in 1997 the US Army requested the "Hohe Warte" from the Secretary of Defense. The former Secretary of Interior Affairs Gerhard Boekel (SPD) had "serious concerns". Since the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr from Steuben Kaserne in 1993 the areas has been reserved as a nature protection area. In 1998 the administrative district in Giessen has been ordered to take care of the request and the process took until September 2000.
In early 1997 Defense Department officials said the Giessen General Depot, named earlier as a partial return, will remain a US installation. Some of the 1st Armored Division units leaving Kirchgoens will move to Giessen, while other units will transfer to Ray Barracks in Friedberg. The Headquarters United States Army, Europe, in conjunction with base closures announced in February 1997 by the Secretary of Defense, decided to move three units from Ayers Kaserne in Kirchgoens to Giessen or Ray Barracks in Friedberg, and to move an engineer battalion from Friedberg to Giessen. The units affected by this announcement and their new duty stations are: the 3rd Battalion, 5th Infantry and Headquarters, Headquarters Company of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, which moved from Ayers Kaserne in Kirchgoens to Ray Barracks in Friedberg; and 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Field Artillery, which moved from Ayers Kaserne in Kirchgoens to Giessen. The 23rd Engineer Battalion moved from Ray Barracks in Friedberg to Giessen. These moves enabled all 1st Brigade Maneuver Battalions to be stationed together and as close as possible to the Friedberg local training area. The rest of the brigade will be quartered a short distance away. The engineers occupied significantly newer living and working facilities in Giessen. The decision to move these units was based on the Army's continuing effort to realign forces to be more flexible, effective and efficient while providing the soldier with a quality environment in which to live and work. These moves allowed USAREUR to better use decreasing dollars without affecting training or readiness.
Giessen, the capital city of the former province of Upper Hessen, lies in the confluence of the Wieseck Brook and Lahn River. The Lahn River valley has an average width of about two miles in the vicinity of Giessen and is bounded by the foothills of the Taunus and Vogelsberg mountain chains. Thus, Giessen is situated in the geographical center, north to south, of the German Federal Republic (West Germany), near the center of the State of Hessen.