by Gary Anderson (62-63)

From the 5/15/03 BIA Newsletter

By the end of August, 1962, I was pretty well settled in the routine of work; 3 swings and 24 hours off, 3 mids and 24 off then either go to bed when you got off mids or bleed till early evening and wake up early, get breakfast, head to the little coffee shop overlooking the flight line, drink coffee, read the Stars and Stripes, do the crossword puzzle, and head for HBE via the walkway in the hangar so you wouldn’t have to salute anybody. Work 3 day shifts and get 72 hours off!

Plenty of things could happen during those 3 days off.  Lifelong friendships were forged over the consumption of good German beer. The Schultheiss Brewery tours were discovered.  This was especially helpful if the break occurred shortly before payday, which amounted to a little over $100.00 if memory serves me.  It was either that or bingo at the Airman’s club. 

The powers that be determined what I had guessed all along: I knew what I was doing but I had a “tin ear” and was a better analyst than a headset man or transcriber.  Fine by me!  I got to work with Joe Kinel, Bob Holmes, Vic Keithley and Hugh Forton and learned a great deal from all of them. 

September rolled around and with it came OCTOBERFEST and a great time at the Festhalle downtown.  Huge wooden tables, crazy waiters in leather pants, pretty girls in peasant dresses and cute little 8-liter wooden kegs of beer not to mention the Oompah band.  By the end of the evening, we were all in a great mood and the bunch of us from Baker trick took over the stage and sang “Ein Zwei, Zofa” or something like that!

Things had been heating up between the Russkis and the US for quite some time………They came to a head on October 22, 1962 when our president gave the Russians an ultimatum…Take the missiles out of Cuba or suffer the consequences.

We were all confined to the base; couldn’t even cross the street from the main gate to see a movie!  We walked to work wearing steel pots and carrying our musette bags and our 1943 dated gas masks. 

Khrushchev blinked, the missiles left Cuba and I can remember how proud I was of being an American in uniform. 

It wasn’t until the reunion in San Antonio in 2002 that many of us found out how close we were to buying the farm.

Col. Mario Perez, who was a Captain in the 6912th at the time, told us of a telegram the 6912th received from the White House, which stated, “Continue sending all messages YY.  If further messages are not received, we will consider you no longer viable.”

I would like to think that all of us in the Security Service were in a large part responsible for things turning out the way they did.


 © 2005, The Berlin Island Association

Newsletter Page