Stationed at VII Corps headquarters in Germany in the late 1980s, we were privy to some public and not so public operations being conducted in Europe and the Middle East. One of the more public events was the decision to bomb Libya in retaliation for terrorist acts.
During the Libya operation, our headquarters was placed on high alert and we were issued our weapons and protective gear.
Now, let me remind you, we were a very, very, very rear echelon headquarters, full of clerks and officers and the US Army band. We were not the Band of Brothers, dedicated to fighting the lines to the end.
Instead, we are the Band of Lunchers, eager to leave our little desk cubicles and travel out of the HQ building and head down to Burger King for lunch.
Well, during the Libya bombings we were on alert and suddenly we were expected to take part in the real Army that we had heard so much about.
We were placed on guard duty and handed loaded weapons and most of us were taking turns walking the perimeter with walkie talkies, flashlights and orders to be vigilant for any kind of retaliatory measures in response to our bombing mission.
Our commanding general had a Mercedes Benz staff car, this being Stuttgart, and he was driving up the main road of our little German military Casern when he ordered his car to stop. As the window lowered, the general noticed a skinny enlisted man serving as a chaplain’s aide, holding a loaded M-16 and shaking a bit, visibly nervous. The general got out of his car and talked with the clerk then traveled up to his office.
It wasn’t three hours later that an entire brigade of infantry troops and engineering troops was dispatched to our post to take over our guard duties – apparently they had more experience in guard duty and Army stuff than our country club staff .
Tents were erected and duty rosters posted. The new breed of soldiers was marching around our base and holding drills and formations. We were, quite frankly, baffled. This was that Army, we gathered, and this was how they did things. And apparently, it involved lots of barking and shouting.
After watching most of this ordeal from our office window on the second floor, just a few doors down from the general’s office, we decided to head out for lunch at the mess hall.