‘We junked that country’: Siouxlander stationed in Germany recalls service during Cold War

Veterans Voices

(KCAU) — Howard Gray served in West Germany during some of the more dramatic times of the Cold War and his unit prepared for a Soviet invasion.

“Some of those little towns I’ll bet never did get rebuilt. I’ll bet they’re still little piles of concrete,” said Gray, a U.S. Army veteran.

This is what Gray remembers most of the German countryside when he was there with the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1960.

“A lot of it was junked. We junked that country, let me tell you. From what I saw 15 years after the war,” Gray said.

Gray was stationed at Ayers Kaserne just outside Butzbach, Germany, about 30 miles north of Frankfurt. The base is commonly referred to as “The Rock.” Gray explained why he thinks it got its name.

“Go get a rock, take it to the west end today. Tomorrow, go get a rock, take it to the east end. That might’ve been why it was called The Rock. I never thought about that.”

After advanced training in Fort Hood, Texas, he said he became well-equipped to repair M-52 tanks.

“So I always got elected to the company when we had a tank fall out along the road. They’d come back and say ‘Gray, will you come to that tank? Get on it. Catch up with us when you can.'”

Shortly after arriving to the base, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev gave his first ultimatum to the western powers, giving them six months to get their forces out of Germany or else.

“We thought this is it, ol’ boy. You’re gonna find out how tough we really are. We had gone up into the hills, the Fulda Gap. That was our objective.”

Gray said they were organized extremely well so that if Khruschev did send his forces, they’d have to go right in front them.

“We had it planned out to where he had been a complete idiot, he would’ve been a pile of junk.”

Of course, the Soviets never did follow through and invade Germany. With the Berlin Crisis resolved by the construction by the construction if the Berlin Wall in 1961, which continued to divide the country until its destruction in 1989.

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