Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The Berlin Wall fell twenty-one years ago this week.

Back in the Eighties there was a protest song by the German singer Nena: "Neunundneunzig Luftballons". Originally sung in German, it was later re-recorded in English as "99 Red Balloons".

The song tells a story of 99 balloons floating into the air, floating over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector and triggering an apocalyptic overreaction by military forces.

In the U.S. Army we have a saying: "When the Balloon goes up." This means when war breaks out, and we strap on our chutes, load up onto the C-130s and take that famous one-way trip:

I don't know where that saying comes from. I always wondered if it was from the time frame when they used hot air balloons for aerial observation posts.

In 1989 I was working with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment, a.k.a. the Berkshire & Wiltshire Regiment (the famous “Berks and Wilts”) when The Wall came down. Everyone was totally amazed, incredulous. The general feeling was none of us expected to ever see that thing come down without a shot being fired.

Fast forward to Bosnia, mid-nineties: I was entertaining my counterpart, Lt. Col. Leonid K_______ of the Ukrainian Army. I asked him where he was from, he replied; Odessa. I proceeded to lay out a map of Odessa with a pen and paper. I drew the esplanade, from the north where the Black Sea fleet was docked to the sand cliffs to the south, the east-west running main avenue where it went up past the Railway Station, I sketched in the rail lines came in from the north to the coal depots by the power plant. Leonid stared at what I was doing, and asked, “You have been to my country?”

“No, never,” I replied.

“Then, how?”

I shrugged and said that he knew what I was – “Spetznaz Amerikanski” – American Special Forces. I told him that if the balloon had ever gone up, I had a one-way ticket to his country.

Then he realized what I was saying – if the balloon had ever gone up, we would have both been hamburger.

And one more thing: America still IS the best country to live in, and it WILL be, for centuries to come, unless we continue on this path of giving it all away, and letting the illegals swarm in and infest.

I know – I’ve lived in more countries than most people visit in a lifetime; and a lot of those countries had great potential, only to be wasted by their own political leadership.

The smartest guy in Eastern Europe - making a break for it . . .



  1. I was in germany in the early 80s and saw the wall and the border as well. yes it was everything they said it was. we dont have fences like that here and havent seen that since i left there. i have also not seen berlin or the borders since it all changed. wonder if the fulda gap still looks the same. berlin should be interesting without the wall to. and all that with out a single shot being fired if you had seen it you would be amazed as those who did see and stood in the shadow of the wall and its neighborhoods. skullhead

  2. You are leaving the American Sector/

    remember that place well/3.5 years there

    1st Plt/Aco/3rd Bn/6th Inf Reg/Berlin Bd.

  3. Same with us. The life expectancy of a carrier back then had the "balloon gone up" was less than half an hour.
    Played chicken with the Kresta Cruisers and Kashin Destroyers from 74 till then. Cold War. Yeah.
    Still the best place on the Good Earth. The USA.

  4. I spent the early-80's until 1991 in Europe. I spent a lot of time inside the 1 KM zone, watching the vopo's do their thing. I went to FSB Berlin and Wobeck. Seeing all that I saw, I had a new appreciation for the freedoms we have in the U.S.A. I would frequently tell other people that in other countries excluding the western based societies, the rule of law was the gun and due process was when they asked you which ear do you want the bullet and the address of your family so they can bill the family for the cost of the bullet.

    101 MI BN(CEWI) Ist Infantry Division, VII Corp, USAREUR
    2nd MI( AE)207th MI BDE, VII Corp, USAREUR

    Freedom ain't Free, somebody has to walk the fence.

    Y'all have a good one