December 9 1985 – ALERT! ALERT! followed by a couple of loud bangs on our barracks room door. I had just spent my first month assigned to the Berlin Brigade’s A Company, 6th Battalion, 502nd Infantry over at McNair Barracks. I was still getting used to the being so far from home, so far behind the Iron Curtain and in the world’s only occupied city: West Berlin. It was surreal, actually to this day it remains a surreal experience.
Well there I was fresh from Basic and AIT in Fort Benning, Georgia. Knew how to be a soldier but had not yet learned to be a Berlin Brigade Soldier but I was learning fast. Tried to make mistakes only once but then again as with most 18 year olds it was more than once.
I digress, that very early December Monday morning was suddenly thrown into a form of organized chaos the likes of which I had never seen before. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had seen organized chaos before this was on an entirely different level. I had grown up in a military family, my father was career Army, two uncles served during the Vietnam Era, and both my Grandfathers served during World War II. Again, I digress.
ALERT! ALERT! followed by banging on each and every door down the hallway to third platoon’s area of A Company, 6th Battalion, 502nd Infantry. Even though, I had already been in Berlin just over a month and had
I had heard about these alerts but had yet to experience one. So when the banning came to the door of our four man room and being the newest I had no idea what to do. Now, my three roommates had been there maybe 5 minutes longer than me. Yet they had something different then I did. They already had one under their belts.
Come on, get your gear on and move your duffel bag to the stairway. Quickly, I got dressed put on my TA-50 gear and hauled my duffel bag down to the area where our gear was to be held in preparation of moving it out. Next one of my room mates told me wait until the line goes down but make sure you draw your rifle. Lucky for us our room was directly across from the arms room. So we did not have to wait in a long line for a long time.
Our squad leader finally arrived as he lived off base. At this point, I was still as confused as I was this 6 minutes earlier won the door banging began. Down the hallway we could hear the squad leader yelling our names. So off we go to the front of the platoon sergeants office and there stood our squad leader. He had all is gear ready to go and asked us where our gear was. We told him we were ready the duffel bags were lined up by the stairwell with here in hopes that a deuce and a half would soon would be there. OK, maybe we didn’t respond exactly like that but you get the idea.
He just stared at us. And finally he looked and asks me, “Don’t you start SOS today?”
“Go get your gear back, put it back in your room and get ready for SOS.”
0800 there I was standing out in front of the School of Standards as I watched my unit road march down the road towards the front gate.
Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, that was the only time that I got out of any alert and most definitely got out of a road march. As there were many more in my future.