It was late 1985, it was probably early December when I got my first taste of a Berlin Brigade ALERT. Having arrived in November there were no Alerts until then.

As a young PFC, fresh from Basic, it was certainly the most interesting time, in Berlin thus far.

The place was “buzzing” almost immediately after the CQ came by to bang on the doors in the barracks!


The deal was we were draw our assigned weapons and be ready to roll out within 30 minutes after being notified of the alert activation. I would soon come to find out that while the expectation was 30 minutes it was more of a suggestion. More on that later.

As the Alert progressed, head counts were taken, those that did not live in the barracks (McNair Barracks) would trickle in with some sense of urgency. I would later find out that while it was my first ALERT, it certainly was not everyone’s.

I was lucky (or unlucky) to have my room right across from the unit’s Arms Room the line quickly formed as members of the other platoons in the company wanted to get their weapons in preparation to roll out (wherever that may be). My roommates and I could wait in our room until the very last minute.

But I digress, it was about forty-five minutes after the initial door pounding that we were ready to go form up outside.

“GUERRA!” a voice called out from the hallway.

“Yes, Sergeant!”

“Turn your weapon in and get your gear back in you room.”


“You are not going, you have School of Standards today.”

Well, it seems that some things did take priority over ALERTS in the Berlin Brigade. While I was out of my first alert, I would soon find out what the “Road March” to the Grunewald on the icy streets of West Berlin was all about.