The Berlin Wall Expieriment – FAIL

With all of the attention on the anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, we have heard about the major players in the collapse of the wall.  However I would like to share a little bit about the men and women whose mission it was to help bring about this momentous event.

As a member of the 37th TAW stationed at Rhein-Main Air Force Base during the Cold War years, I have first hand experience with the events that helped lead up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Part of our mission during those years was to provide air lift support to West Berlin.   This was a legacy role, from the Berlin Air Lift 1948-1949, and was an ever-present option, that applied continuing political pressure on the Soviets.

You may recall in the beginning of the Cold War, Berlin was cut off from the west by the Soviets, and for 15 months every scrap of food, clothing, fuel, and parcel, right down to the tooth picks, and paper clips, had to be air-lifted in.  It was a continuous conveyor belt in the sky.  The mission started out as a supply mission, but became a symbol of resolve and strength.  We never stood down from that mission, even after the need for air lift supply was supplanted by cargo trains.  Indeed the air lift component remained, and we trained to reestablish the mission to its full strength if required.

I remember serving in the Reagan years, and the sense of pride that I was part of the mission keeping the Soviets in check.  Many of us volunteered for the assignment, and extended our deployment, in the face of the ever-present threat of nuclear war.  Now that the USSR has disbanded, people seem to forget how convinced the world was that the nuclear option was imminent.  We didn’t take the threat lightly, nor downplay the tough language that was being bantered back and forth.  When you are 7 minuets away, as the nuke flies, you know that if the button is pushed, you’re charcoal.

Rhein-Main was also the target of two terrorist car bombings, one of which killed several Army, and Air Force troops.  I will never forget the morning of the bombing of our Headquarters Building.  It was 7:25 am, and I had just got up.  My barracks was kitty corner to the Headquarters Building, and when the bomb went off it shook our building and shattered some of the windows.  Our shop received multiple bomb threats in those years, that little attention was paid to the terrorist threat.

I am proud to have served with those who were brave enough to stare down the enemy, in the ultimate blinking contest.  As a result, the wall came down, the Soviets eventually went broke, trying to counter the many missions like the 37th’s.

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