Service Memory: The Cold War

Eric Foster


A1C, U.S. Air Force

Served March 1987 to February 1992 with the 380th Supply Squadron (SAC) and 86th Supply Squadron (USAF in Europe). Based at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York, 1987 to 1989 and Ramstein Air Base, Germany, 1989 to1992.

Memory: “I arrived in Germany in the summer of 1989 — in the dying days of the Cold War. I had just enough time to get my feet wet before the revolutions in Eastern Europe started to unravel the geopolitical structure held in place by the USSR.

“I remember the electricity in the air when the Berlin Wall fell, the shock at the grisly images of executed Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu in the papers, and the hope when Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia. Through my travels and my German friends, I witnessed a period of great transformation in German society, the reunification of their country.

“In those early days, the military still required you to get special permission to travel to the eastern bloc countries. And on my travels to the former East Germany and Czechoslovakia, you got the sense that people were in a state of shock to see foreign tourists, that the border guards weren’t quite used to the new policy of just waving you in and that modest sums of money got you the best a place had to offer.

“One late night a friend and I, driving into a Czech town in search of a place to stay, were greeted by a line of tanks thundering past us on the road. We couldn’t tell if they were Russian or Czech, but we were both frightened that our mere presence in the country had caused a military mobilization.”

About Dan Sullivan

Editor of World-Herald books, including "Road to the Big Time," "Husker Full House" and "The Oracle & Omaha."
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