As you recall, the Allied forces occupied and defended
for 50 years, 1945-1994. After we left Berlin for good, a few of our
military members who served there got together and formed the Berlin United
States Military Veterans Association (BUSMVA) for interchange of information
and recollections and commaradie.
Government formed a corresponding agency, the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation
(CCF), to commemorate its survival as a free city-state. Checkpoint
Charlie was a small building in the center of Berlin where the interchange of U S and
Soviet Forces took place. Checkpoint Charlie Foundation was founded by
government in 1994 as the American Forces withdrew, to develop and maintain
German- American relations. One of the projects for the past two years has
been to sponsor a "Welcome Home" visit of a few servicemen who served in Berlin during the cold
war. Participants were selected from members of the BUSMVA.
The CCF recently invited 10 former members
of the U S military garrison to be its guests for a week, along with wives
who cared to attend. I accepted the invitation, and my wife and I flew to
Berlin-Tegel for the 10-18 October visit. The cost of airfare was our only
expense. Other former serving military men were from MA, NJ, VA, FL, and MI
and of course us from TEXAS. There was only one other career
soldier and I was the only one who served in Viet Nam during that war.
The CCF organization treated us in
a superior manner. Our accommodations were in Motel One in
Mitte at the Kufurstendamm near the destroyed Kaiser Wilhem Church.
All meals, entertainment, and tours
were planned, coordinated, and handled for us in an excellent, pleasant and
We were greeted on our arrival by Professor
Alexander Longolius, Chairman of the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation. and
Doctor Andrea Mehrleander, Executive Director, Checkpoint Chatlie
in a comfortable bus and were shown various castles, museums, memorials, and
government offices. Although space is not available to describe all we
did, the following summary may give you some idea.
We toured and had photo stops :
Charlottenburg Palace; Olympic
Stadium(1936); Schoenberg City Hall (JFK "Ich bin in Berliner); Brandenberg
Gate; the Soviet War Memorial; Septsen Juni Strasser(17 Sep -
riots); Allied Museum, using the PX and Movie Theater near the former Berlin
Command Headquarters, Spandau Citadel; barraks of the German Army in Berlin,
lunch and welcomng remarks by the CO, Col Arandt, and Mayor Wanjura of
Berlin District Reinickendorf; bus tour of East Berlin with appropriate
photo stops; thorough tour of Templehof Air Drome; visit to the U S Embassy
and conference with the American Ambassador Murphy; lunch with Herr Momper,
President of the Berlin Parliament; tour of the Berlin House of
Representatives; tour of the Deutsch Reichstag building with tour led by Dr.
Roland; meeting with high school students with questions and discussion;
visit to McNair barracks and museum, Andrews Barracks and Roosevelt
Barracks; the Free University and Harnack House, the Commandatura Building
where the four powers met rarely, a bus tour through Potsdam, Cilnicker
Palace, Sans Souci Palace; German-Russian Museum in East Berlin Karlshorst;
parts of the Berlin Wall still standing. The wall was erected by the East
German and East Berlin government in 1961
and came down in 1989.
And at night as one might choose :
Berliner Octoberfest, German Symphonic
Orchestra, Gypsy Gentiermen, Festival of Lights.
We were provided prime seats in the
superior, world-class variety show, "Qi", (pronounced "key"), and
attended as a group.
When I was posted in Berlin to the U S 6th Infantry Regiment 55
years ago, I had a few German friends. It was obvious then and now
that the German people liked the Americans and found our presence in West
Berlin much preferred to the Soviet presence in East
I wrote this note at the request of
Sergeant Major Lee Hagan, USMC Retired, Vice Commander of Purple Heart
Chapter 1919 of Austin Texas. I decided to send it also to a few other
friends, not just military friends. Therefore, please be aware of the
Military Order of the Purple Heart; It is an association of those of
us who have been awarded the Purple Heart Medal for serving honorably in
combat with an armed enemy and being wounded in action or killed in action.
I was awarded my Purple Heart for action in
in combat with the North Korean Communist Forces while serving as a rifle
platoon leader in a rifle company of the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the First