Dragoon Base

Connecting the Troopers of Today with the Veterans of Yesterday.

I was one of the patrol drivers that day. One hour OP above the Pink Kasserne. We had a Redcatcher that was relaying our radio traffic back to Camp. THATS the bird that IBC'd.

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Marc, I was the S2 of 3/2 at the time. That was one of the most interesting days of my life. My next tour was teaching at the MI Officer Advanced Course at Ft. Huachuca and the story got a lot of mileage.

Anyway, that day, some of the OPs -- maybe yours -- reported flights of 2 Su-27s up and down the trace. It was sunny, if you recall, and so we figured they were out enjoying the day and getting some flight time. Then after lunch, RC called and said they were enroute to Reed for Class III and "By they way, we've been fired on by Floggers with rockets and 23mm guns."

That caused some excitement that lasted on and on. At first the RC crew maintained they'd been over FRG territory and so you can imagine the bells that rang.

- Pete Johnson
It was our patrol that called in the fast movers. We had been observing a Czech maneuver area about 10ks away and had noticed what appeared to be a Scud missile system.

I never saw the Redcatcher cross the border. But I sure as hell saw those Floggers. All hell broke loose at the Pink Kasserne. They knew we were there. They ALWAYS new when we were there. This time they started setting up MG's pointed at us. That day was the one and only time i ever had to lock and lod my weapon when not on a firing range.
Marc,

This is pretty interesting. I have never forgotten that day, and recall the reports that were coming from your patrol.

I was in the SOC of all things. It'd relocated to the basement of the HQ at Pond Barracks for some remodeling upstairs. The RC kept saying they'd been fired on over FRG territory. Suddenly my friend from the BGS called the SOC on the Bundespost line and asked for me. He was pretty concerned. "Why'd your Cobra just overfly Czechoslovakia?" he asked. I paused and thought, "Oh, sh*t." He went on, "Yeah, we're talking with the Zoll. They say it entered Czech airspace at such and such grid and exited at this grid 20 minutes later."

So you should have seen the SOC within 5 minutes. The Squadron commander is there on the secure line calling someone "Sir" and speaking up to the VII Corps HQ, and Major Lind, the S3, and I started executing the transition to war plans with all SOC hands filling in on field phones, radios, you name it. The thing I find inspiring is that there was zero panic, just a professional organization swinging into action. But the stakes were high. These are those scenarios that in planning lead up to a theater war and then a global nuclear exchange.

So let me say it was probably prevented by professionals at an OP -- yours -- who kept a cool head.

I haven't been back to Germany since then but was pretty struck recently seeing pictures in the Dragoon Base that somebody snapped of the Pink Kaserne. They just wandered over and took photos of it -- it's abandoned. There's something unreal about that.

I'm sure glad you posted the topic on this site. When I read "Good Friday 1984" it immediately grabbed my attention. My head's a little spaced thinking about that day again.

- Pete
Pete,

i was just a young PFC driving a jeep. but we had the training and we kept calm. when the bells and whistles started going off, the SSG in charge of the patrol (i can't for the life of me remember his name) had us bust open the battle boxes, and lock and load our weapons. we then fell back a terrain feature and waited for instructions.

in the mean time the Reaction Force had been blown out. we were then ordered to do a route recon for the RF.
basically, we were to check the road for OPFOR from Bayerische Eisenstein (?) back toward the oncoming RF.
It was surreal as the German populace was just going about their business as if nothing were wrong.

and thats what we reported. nothing. no Czech hordes crossing the Border. no tanks, no Hinds, no nothing. just germans out enjoying the spring weather.

it wasn't until i read in the Stars n Strips that President Reagan actually apologized for the "inadvertant" Border overflight, that i knew it had really happened.

Personally I think someone up at Regiment (or higher?) told the Redcatcher to get a closer look at that Scud...
See, that's the thing. No civilians knew anything was wrong -- the RC crew didn't admit for many moons that they were over CZ. I'm not privy to their statements but that's what I was told.

There were a lot of conspiracy theories but I discount them. The previous summer, KAL-007, a civilian Korean airliner, had been in Soviet airspace in the far east and was shot down. There were a lot of theories that it was a set up but I doubt it. There were common recon tracks down that coast and I think it was mistaken identity and a flawed Soviet decision making process.

I found later that the incident had gone up to the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon and had generated a JCS alert to the White House situation room. When I got back to Huachuca, I had the McNeil Lehrer News Hour on the TV one evening, must have been that summer of 1984, and a report said that this time, a Czech L-29 had crossed the border and fired on a Cobra over Freyung. That got my attention but I never got the story on that either.

I exited from active duty in 1986 for the reserves (another adventure, and another tale as well) but I never figured out anymore about our escapade on that Good Friday. I just know stuff like that could have gone to sh*t fast and convinced me I'd just served in the most professional regiment in the world. FWIW I did a reserve tour in Moscow in 1993 and Russian officers who'd been on the other side, not just during this incident but generally, told me they watched our convoy discipline, training, and general operations and were scared to death of going head to head with us.

This is a good discussion. Thanks again for kicking it off!

- Pete

 Pink Kaserne and many other points of interest along the former border trace were abandoned in mid-1990, after the wall came down. The accomodations at Camp Reed seemed like the Holiday inn in comparison to what the Czech Border guys had.

 I and my wife simply drove through the crossing point at WaldMeunchen and drove down the Czech side of trace to the Furth-in-Wald BC. The only hassle we had was from the BBP, who didn't believe that I should be allowed back in Germany without a visa. 

 I went back in 1995 and visited the area around the town of Domazlice (under the auspices of DoS). We found the Czechs to be very friendly, albeit nationalistic. They also harbored and underlying hate for the Russians.

FWIW- there was a gun shop in the center of Domazlice that would have put the Rod-n-Gun Club to shame. They sold automatic weapons- legally!

I remember this incident.I was working in OPS that day and remember officer after officer filing in to the meeting room.I was with FIST and we started to go to the border with the Trrop we supported. I do recall hearing WE flew over to gather intel(pics) of some concrete pads in the farmers fields that were thought to be launch pads for missles.CZECH response was that they were for tractors to turn around when the fields were muddy.PETE, there was a trooper from wilkes-barre,pa;. that worked in S2,I never met him only talked to him on the landline.We used to exchange our hometown newspapers.
Hey Marc

I was working OPS at Camp Reed during the time. I remember all the radio chatter and speculations on what was going on. We had four of us crammed into the OPS Center at Reed trying to keep up with the daily log on what all was being said and done. I remember there being a SLAR flight sent in to try and get a grasp on what all was going on. Also the big lecture from MI on "you shall not call anyone or write anyone on what happened today".

Would be nice to get the "rest of the story on this".
hey Jess

well, we have my perspective as the "boots on the ground" guy, yours, from the ops shed. we also have Pete's point of view from SQ...anyone from Reg't wanna add their two cents worth?
Hi all,
I lived near Amberg when that incident occurred and never heard about it - until now.
A search on google brought up some interesting pictures and reports from the other side of the 'iron curtain'

http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/showpost.php?s=d9e8264fce7daf1442d...
http://www.vrtulnik.cz/accidents/stret2e.htm

There's also some video footage in that posting

Report on other incidents:
http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/showpost.php?s=d9e8264fce7daf1442d...

As a German, and a civilian I would like to express my respect and thank you for being there all those years!
Chris,

Welcome to the group. Thanks very much for your kind words, that is a great thing to read to start the day!

Those links are fascinating. I think somewhere earlier in this thread I might have mentioned that I heard the October 1985 news about the L-39 over Freiyung on the TV news one evening. I was teaching at the Army Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and several times I'd discussed the Good Friday 1984 incident as a case study with my classes. So when I heard the Freiyung story in the background one night it got my complete attention.

And retrospect puts this all in a bigger perspective. Allegedly Andropov, in 1983, thought that Reagan was preparing a decisive first strike on the USSR, and in the West we didn't know how close the Soviets were to being completely overcome with paranoia from border incidents and other actions that really weren't intended to be hostile. And as a side light, in 1992-'93 I did a Reserve tour in Moscow investigating US reconnaissance flights that had been shot down between 1950 and 1961 along the Soviet borders. My job was to interview Russian veterans and civilians (I am a Russian speaker) and sort through new reports divulged openly by the Russians from the classified Russian archives. I found a historical pattern -- based on continuous Western reconnaissance -- of hard responses to what they viewed as provocations. Not saying this is good or bad, just history.

So your Web information from the Czech sources that you linked to really is interesting. I knew that eventually all kinds of stuff would be coming out.

Chris, I loved being in Amberg from 1982 - 1984. I lived in a little walk-up on Seminargasse, down from the Maltheser brewery. I had many friends in the German police and military establishment and spent a lot of happy holidays as a guest of their families. That time is a strong part of my life's history. So many thanks in return to the people of Amberg. I loved living there.

Best,

Pete Johnson
Pete, thanks for the kind welcome.
I just returned from a vacation and that's a very good read.
I was born in'73 and lived in Amberg until 2001, the town has changed quite a bit, I'll take a few pictures when I visit my family there.

If anybody is interested I'll try to find the place where the 1984 incident happened.
Of course it would be easier if anybody had rough coordinates :-)

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