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SAT & BAF! Memories of a Tower Rat
Second Place Winner of the 2011 Reader Views Literary Award (History/Science). A memoir of the author's time as security for Pershing II nuclear missiles in cold war Germany.
The year is 1986. The Cold War is five years from its end bringing a close to a nearly fifty year standoff between the United States and the USSR. The Soviet Union is outraged over a large number of Pershing missiles being kept in West Germany. President Ronald Reagan is proposing the Strategic Defense System, also known as "Star Wars", further raising the heat on the Soviets. The USSR is in turmoil over General Secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, proposing a revolutionary policy of Glasnost or "openness" toward the west. They are also mired in a war of conquest in Afghanistan. Leftist, terrorist groups such as West Germany's Red Army Faction (RAF) and France's Action Directe (AD) are threatening further attacks on western military installations. Thousands of protestors are regularly picketing sites that house nuclear weapons. It appears nothing can solve this standoff except complete, nuclear annihilation or capitulation by one of the sides. The pressure is rising quickly in the Cold War.
One company of Infantry stands between all of these enemies and live Pershing II nuclear missiles.
In this very personal memoir, the author carries the reader through his two year tour as a young Infantryman in Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment (Pershing). He shares with you the highs and lows of life in the boiler pot of a Pershing unit and in Heilbronn, Federal Republic of Germany. He takes you to the site, to the field, and out on the town as he earns his way back to "the world". This very readable adventure is both brutally honest and irreverently funny. For the first time, someone from inside 56th Field Artillery Command (Pershing) speaks out on exactly what it was like to serve in that command during the very momentous period at the end of the Cold War. You will experience the brotherhood that is exclusively found in the Infantry which was only made stronger by the unique conditions in C 2/4 Infantry. The narrative is extremely personal, but it is written in a way that is universal and will be widely enjoyed by any audience. This book is a rollicking adventure from beginning to end. A person who was actually there describes exactly what it was like to serve in West Germany during the Cold War in an immensely stressful unit. The author explains the tremendous toll it took on the minds, hearts, bodies, and souls of the men who volunteered to stand between the Eagle and the Bear. Someone is finally sharing what millions experienced in this very entertaining memoir. You will stand by the author and see the world through his eyes. You will live it.
The Cold War has become a footnote at the end of many history text books. Even though it influenced the world more than any other period with the possible exception of the Renaissance, it is normally left with a short period at the end of a history class. Millions of Americans served overseas in the Cold War, and very few of them have told their stories. There is an entire generation that only vaguely remembers hearing something about the Cold War.
"SAT & BAF! Memories of a Tower Rat" is a first step in correcting that situation.
Second Place Winner of the 2011 Reader Views Literary Award (History/Science)
Around eight o’clock, I saw a group of my friends come in. I remember Sergeant Hildebrand, Pierre, Henry Maldonado, Jeff Pojar, Shiff, Lockhart, and I think Big Jim was with them. Maldonado walked over to say hello. He leaned over close to me, and I whispered that her brother-in-law was an Engineer. He just nodded at the ladies in his polite Texas way and shook hands with the men.
He whispered, “We’re right over here if you need us.”
That’s when I noticed that the entire crew was dressed for a fight. You could always tell when Maldonado was looking for a fight. He’d wear ripped jeans and jungle boots. He usually had a white T-shirt with an anarchy sign drawn on it with a magic Marker. He was either itching for a fight or he was going slam dancing later in one of the German punk clubs. He was the first person I met that liked Dead Kennedys as much as he liked George Strait. My guess on that night was a fight.
I kept visiting with Lisa and her family for a couple more hours without any problems. I liked her parents a lot. Then, around ten, I saw a group of GIs walk through the front door of the tent. They immediately glared at me and sat down over by the door.
“Oh ****,” Lisa whispered.
“They’re from his unit. They already told him they don’t like you dating me. I’m afraid they’re here to start a fight,” Lisa kept whispering.
“Don’t worry about it. I fight for a living.”
A short while after that, Lisa whispered with her sister. Then she leaned over to me and said, “We have to go to the bathroom. Please try not to get in a fight while we’re gone.”
I told her, “I’ll try my best. I don’t know how hard those guys are trying, though.”
She rolled those beautiful green eyes at me and walked off with her mom and her sister. Within seconds of her leaving, the engineers came striding my direction. One of them leaned over by my ear, put his hand on my back, and said quietly, “You can’t sit with her.”
I dismissively stated,”Ok,” and took a drink of beer.
He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m not kidding. You really can’t sit with her.” Then he tightened a grip on the back of my neck.
I again said,”Ok,” and went on ignoring him.
He then squeezed the back of my neck a little harder and said, “How about we go outside and talk about this.”
I motioned to Maldonado with my hand as I stood up and said,”How ‘bout we talk about it right here?”
Nobody else at the table could hear us because the tent was so loud, and we were talking barely above a whisper. The entire tent could hear that liter beer mug cracking against the side of his head, though. I hit him with a mug I had sitting by my feet as I stood up. The rest of the guys were already coming across the tops of tables knocking over beers as they charged. They jumped off on the tops of engineers and the fight was on. I got a couple more hits in, but unfortunately I knocked the table over spilling beer on Lisa’s dad.