It was with a sense of pride that I took another look at my confidential orders confirming my new assignment, and officially declaring me an OPS, before heading onto the A95. I motored through Munich, and Stuttgart, then picked up the A8, and finally B428.
I took in the beauty (though the autobahn in not the most scenic route) while recalling some history of the last hundred years, or so, in this part of Germany. During my six-hour trek on the mostly no-speed-limit-autobahn; cars flew by, trucks too, leaving the old Beetle that maxed out at 115kph.
I was happy to see Marty and the twins at our quarters in BK. She was impressed with my physique and anxious for us to have some time together. But it was not to be, I had just one day to spend. She was understandably stressed, and could use some companionship and help with the girls.
We were still involved in field exercises with the well-known REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) training, I told her. “That’s the price we pay when on active duty in the U. S. Army. This is far from Ft. Lewis not just in distance; we are patrolling soldiers who are patrolling us — a Soviet Block country that, with just one provocative move, would heat up the Cold War. I love you and the twins and will, hopefully, see you soon. For now, duty calls.”
Before leaving, I purchased a beige 1969 VW® Squareback with automatic. I left it with Marty, just in case she decided to get her International Driver’s license. She didn’t.
The Wonder Of You by Elvis was playing on AFNE radio as I motored from Bad Kreuznach in the old black Beetle. Why wasn’t I in that sterile and safe studio in Wiesbaden introducing the King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll, or talking about Elvis’ recent meeting with President Nixon at the White House? Because I wanted something more exciting, something a little more hands-on in our effort to discourage East Germany from crossing the border into West Germany. I could be doing a second tour in Vietnam, I suppose, if I needed serious excitement, but I had already done that.
What had I gotten myself into? It was becoming clearer after my final briefing in Frankfurt when I was issued a “Do not Deter, Detain or Disarm Document”* signed by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and authorized by NATO.
There, at the I.G. Farben building, I was picked up by a Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) driver in a black 1970 Mercedes® 220. He recommended that I sit in the front passenger seat — not chauffeured — making me less of a target. Whoa, okay. In jest, I asked Karl if lying flat in the back seat would be even safer.
As we speed down the autobahn, I joked with him about a possible detour to Scotland, where the Rolling Stones were about to perform in Glasgow. He didn’t appreciate the juxtaposition and maintained his heading south on the A5, in the Merc at steady 130kph, on the way to meet my charge.
Renown I.G. Farben building near Frankfurt, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Headquarters. Gen. Eisenhower occupied this building as Commander, April 1951 to May 1952. I was here on temporary duty several times in 1970-72 when Gen, Andrew Goodpaster was Commander. (DOD)
When I tried conversing with Karl in just Deutsche, I did not do well; It was embarrassing, actually. Thankfully, the trip was soon complete, and I bid my “Chauffeur” Auf Wiedersehen.
Awaiting me at my destination was a gray 1968 BMW® 1800 containing the very weapons I’d trained with in Bad Tolz, considerable ammo, a life-saving kit, a TAR-224A crypto radio, several hundred dollars cash in three currencies and a specially tailored 42L trench coat that would conceal a twenty-four-inch weapon. And my charge?
I didn’t know the man I was to protect or for whom he worked. Unassuming, he looked like a manager of a carpet depot in Tacoma. We would collaborate over the next few weeks and play out enough scenarios for a spy novel. He worked unarmed and carried diplomatic cover, both of us wore German civilian attire. I thought he deserved protection, just for the amount of cash he carried in Deutsche Marks, French francs and U.S. dollars.
Once operations began, there was no comingling. We communicated just enough that I was cognizant of his missions and that we were vigilant of each other’s whereabouts.
I had just one job: protect my asset, including eliminating the threat — with extreme prejudice. As for who would protect me, I was on my own. My only contact other than the Operative was a source at SACEUR in the I. G. Farben building in Frankfurt. This was classic Cold War.
Armed with a D2 K-Bar,™ silenced H&K™ VP70z** with an 18 round magazine, and a subcompact SIG Sauer™ for backup, I stayed close and shadowed him everywhere, which seemed to be every club and brothel in the cities we worked.
By now, I knew my man (code name Hans) was a Defense Intelligent Agent (DIA), but I was no spy and never a part of any intelligence-gathering or recruiting. Eye on my Operator, concealing my hand cannon, ready to dispatch it in a split second, kept me occupied.
I could resign, if not under investigation, as this was a volunteer and high-stress assignment. Under normal conditions, a qualified replacement was required for me to be released. The Operative could relieve me at any time. No time was wasted with long and hyperbole filled efficiency reports. He rated his OPS to SACEUR with a simple: Satisfactory.
During the more than three months of shadowing my operator, I never fired either weapon in anger. But I could do a mean stare-down. A working girl feeling me up was tricky, and some other encounters had forced me into revealing one gun while at the ready with the backup.
My weapons were always at condition one, as neither had a manual safety. I honed my shooting skills when off-duty, and was fanatical about keeping my weapons operating at their peak. Still, I worried about screwing up. I worried about my family. Sometimes I vacillated from being lax, to getting jumpy and anxious.
OPS was an interesting, mostly exciting experience. My per diem was generous and without any scrutiny. I stayed in good hotels, ate well, and I visited several fascinating cities and areas that were pivotal in the second World War. But 100 days was enough for me. I made contact with my source at SACEUR and requested that I be relieved and allowed to return to my previous assignment.
Several weeks later, I walked into the Public Affairs Office (where I was originally assigned) at Rose Barracks, still buffed and back from TDY. I felt the presence of someone approaching my six.*** I swiftly swung toward him, about to execute a crushing elbow thrust to his neck and a quick and hard knee to his groin. I realized, just in time, it was the lieutenant colonel in charge of public affairs wanting to give me a hug from behind. The reunion was nice, but I was looking for a way to get out of Germany. I had over a year left on my tour.
As for the joys of touring Germany, France, and other European countries, we did some (see photos), but my work, finances, and the twins prevented us from traveling more.
Marty soothed her loneliness somewhat by ordering lots of stuff from the Spiegel catalog, listening to AFNE radio, writing letters home, and seeing a psychiatrist. Taxi service — in a Mercedes diesel no less — to the hospital, commissary, post exchange, and around town was very reasonable.
Two great opportunities arose after I returned to BK. The first was a message emanating from Washington, D. C. for qualified enlisted to apply for a fully funded Environmental Science and Engineering program at Texas A & M University. Upon graduation, the member would become a commissioned officer.
I started my application immediately. It was a daunting and drawn-out procedure and a packet (needing to be perfect) that contained about a dozen pages, including attachments. I received lots of encouragement that culminated with the Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division endorsing the application with: “Highly Recommend Approval.” Off the packet went to D. C.
The second was an opportunity, a few weeks later, inviting qualified enlisted to apply for Recruiting Duty, with a choice of station. That meant we could go to North Carolina and be near Marty’s folks. The other good news, if selected, we could leave Germany presently, a year early. It wasn’t like becoming an officer, but it was a great opportunity with incentive pay of $75 a month and a chance for early promotion.
After Marty’s two years, mostly alone in Germany with the twins, I was willing to and did withdraw my application for the engineering program and give up my chance to become a commissioned officer.
My recruiting application was approved.
*Document read: “By order of NATO and Supreme Allied Commander Europe: The holder of this document is on an assignment of great importance and shall not be Delayed, Deterred, Detained or Disarmed. Individual is authorized to carry special weapons and other lethal devices and is entitled to special access up to, and including, TOP SECRET CRYPTO. If deceased, this Document is to remain with the corpse.”
Signed over the imprint of SAUCER Seal by General Andrew Goodpaster and picture and thumbprint of document holder. The Document contained warnings of severe penalties and imprisonment for its fraudulent use.
**Just released and known as a Machine Pistol, it had a detachable 8″ stock and was capable of a 3 round burst.
***Six 6 o’clock is directly behind, and 12 o’clock is directly in front, commonly used by fighter pilots and others in the military.