Early in the morning after goggles on (around 0200), Lopez, Petrus and I provided transport to the combined West German and British squad. We dropped them at the formal entrance to the AO, cutting off quite a bit of distance off their trek. Unfortunately, we also got lost on the way – choosing the wrong path to the AO several times. In the end we took more time than they would have just walking!
I also created a bit of confusion on this mission. As we were just the motor transport for the squad going out I had assumed they would send status reports to the TOC. However, this did not happen and by the time we made contact, they had already scrambled the Canadians to come to our rescue. This mission taught us two very valuable lessons: first, be very specific when choosing a route on a map. Second, check in via radio on a regular basis so the TOC can track your progress and know where to send a rescue if you come under attack.
After a short rest period, we were given another mission. Apparently we weren’t the only unit to get lost while heading to the AO so we were tasked with marking the route with luminous tape and rope. As it was light again, this was an easy mission although it remained very important. We accomplished it without any hassle and moved on to our next assignment.
The next afternoon, Squad 1 was on SAT duty. While on SAT, half of our unit would become the duty section, performing tasks around camp such as helping in the kitchen, filling toilet paper and sweeping out the ready tent. The other half would be a quick reaction force for any units in the field. Our job was to sit in the ready tent in our kit, ready to sprint to a vehicle at a moment’s notice.
This particular day the TOC was having some communication trouble and for some reason I was able to get better comms with my PRC-77 than the TOC was with it’s base station. I found myself suddenly very useful sitting outside the TOC relaying (yelling) radio transmissions to those inside. However, this created a SAT team that was a man short and of course, we were activated right in the middle of all of this. Orders came down down stating that East Germans were shooting civilians at border checkpoints and we lost communication with the Canadian section right about the same time. SAT was scrambled to go find and pick them up, which they did without incident.
Shortly thereafter, our squad was scrambled a second time (this time at full strength) to move up through the airport and secure the border crossing at Cotbus (Colleville). As the only NATO unit in the field at the time this was quite nerve wracking. At any moment the bulk of the WARPAC forces could come rolling through the checkpoint to secure something for glorious communist blah blah blah. I found myself yet again sitting behind cover, coding and decoding a stream of messages to ensure the TOC knew where we were and to advise my squad leader where the rest of the friendly units in the field were.
Squad by squad, the entire company was deployed into our area. The West German section moved into the near side of Cotbus to secure a hard point. The Canadian section then swept through Cotbus down to Pegasus Bridge, engaging a large enemy force and taking 4 enemy prisoners. They then fell back to the south end of Cotbus where we met up with them. The lot of us held Cotbus for several hours and then were pulled unit by unit.
I do not know how late the last unit stayed in Cotbus but I do know that the next morning the East Germans hit it with much yelling and many grenade explosions. They valiantly took Cotbus back….from any wildlife that may have been holding it. The bulk of NATO was crashed out in our bunks.
Photos by Eightball, Hoober and Mercy.