Marienfelde Memoirs
May, 2006 Newsletter - Section 5

By Terry Simms (62-64)


In 2002, shortly after taking over the reins from Joe Kinel, our brilliant new leader, Phil Adams, set up an internet bulletin board to make it easy for the BIA members to discuss the trials and tribulations of duty in Berlin and re-construct memories of those “good ole days”. Inevitably, the talk turned to the rubble heap that many of us came to know and love as Marienfelde. Over a 4 month period in the summer of 2002 a series of messages authored by BIA members began to establish a record of the evolution of this site from 2 radio rigged tractor trailers connected to each other by a covered wooden platform and guarded by a single outhouse prior to 1962; expanded to 4 trailers and a permanent building in 1963 and, finally, becoming the entire 6912th Communications Center by 1967.

This record established conclusively and unarguably that Mario (MM) Perez was the founding visionary of the Marienfelde facility having single handedly discovered and developed the plan to start a site free of the noise and clutter of HBE at Tempelhof. You can read this and other tidbits about Marienfelde in the following comments and descriptions from the memory of those who were there during and after the time of Father Perez including comments by Mr. Perez himself. Terry Simms, dash 7, Baker flt, (62-64)

Marienfelde – Circa 1963. from the Photo Files of Jim Kavanagh

The start date for the Marienfelde site (fully operational) was 12/15/62.The pit was moved from HBE about half way down Tempelhof to a new operational area. It was there when I came back in 1972. HBE became some offices for Collection Management. Other offices and the top floor(s) were barracks for the WAF’s. There were barrels of gasoline at the end of the structure when we were in the vans. I guess it was going to be used for destruction if our friends from the East had to travel that 600 yards from the border to Marienfelde. When I came back in 72 as Mission Supervisor there were buildings (vans were gone) and I don’t know what happened to the flammable material. I remember teaching the border guards to use the middle finger when we made runs with material to be taken from Marienfelde to Tempelhof. J. Ferris (60-65/72-74)

Two responses. First, "MM" probably refers to the "the Mad Mex." Refers of course to Mario Perez who is, of course, Hispanic. Definitely not politically correct by today's standards but the term was not meant to be disparaging. Quite the contrary, it was more a term of respect...the "Mad" part referring to his many ideas, some of them quite wild and far out but others really right on target. The Marienfelde site is perhaps his best achievement. Paul Nikulla's earlier comments about Marienfelde being Perez’s brainchild is right on target. There were all sorts of site surveys conducted in 1961, including a hard look at Rudow, the area where the famous Berlin tunnel was located. But as we all know, Marienfelde got the nod. Regarding Tom Sweeney’s observation about T’Berg, that’s quite correct too. There were two round radomes and right between them was a third, but this one was elevated on a rather long tower. It really was quite graphic for those of us who tend to think along those lines and T’Berg was often referred to as “Phallus in Wonderland.” “Whitey” (Gerald White) (60-66/69-76)

Enjoy all the Marienfelde tales. You may never be able to close that one out. Just wanted to add an observation: The whole concept of Marienfelde and Teufelsberg can be credited to one man: Mario Perez. When the new, super high powered navigational aids for corridor flights were fired up on Tempelhof, large areas of interest were blanked out. Something had to be done. Only one man had the imagination and the cajones to take some of us guys and some equipment in the back of a 3/4 ton weapons carrier and climb up on top of those rubble heaps and run tests: Mario Perez. The rest, as they say, is history. Paul Nikulla (59/62)

I must have left (June 14, 1962) Berlin before the NAV aids were established at Tempelhof. Now I wonder whether the RADINT section was moved as well, or did it stay at Tempelhof? Today it would be no trick at all to establish a microwave link to carry the RADAR feed(s) to the new site, but can't remember if it was that easy in 1962. Reagan Andrews (59/62).

When the Marienfelde site was in its infancy, H. Stewart and I were self tasked to procure a copy of traffic from Gatow; we sent the Brits a messsage of HVCCO and they said that they had what we were looking for. When we got over there, the Brits acknowledged the inquiry but said that our illustrious Comm Center did NOT mention who was coming and what their clearance was. The Brits, being more resourceful than Yanks at this sort of security, posed just one question to us: What was the nom de guerre of our Ops chief? The Mad Mexican, aka M Perez. With laughter, the Brits let us in and that was the only time I was ever in the RAF inner sanctum. Fortunately it was a Sunday. Willi Colbert (60-62)

And finally some words of wisdom from our founder, Mario (MM) Perez himself:

I have some photos I took in early 62 when it was just a RUBLE PILE...I`ll bring some along with me to the reunion...Mario Perez (60-63)

Geologic Origins

When I was first assigned to the Air Police at Tempelhof, there were three off-base sites that we had to patrol. One was at Marienfelde. The other two were Tegel Air Base and a site on rubble mountain in the Grunewald. Those two sites were operated by the 1946 Comm. Squadron. They also had a site at T’hof at one of the towers on the civilian side. The first time I worked the Marienfelde site I was greeted by one trailer, a guard shack and a genuine outhouse. This was protected by a single strand of barb wire. It was very interesting to use the outhouse in the winter. Seeing recent photos of the site, it was nothing like when I first started. We were warned that when the NAV aids were fired up, not to get too close. The radiation, even at low levels, was hazardous to your health. We were told that on high power, the fence would glow. The Soviets were not supposed to be able to jam the signal. Sometimes after a test, we would find a dead critter that didn't know better. I have a question for the people in the know. Is it true that there were explosives planted under the trailers in case the trailers could not be taken back to Tempelhof. Jim Mossman (62-65)

I was among the first to enjoy the great outdoors at Marienfelde. My recollection is that the building at the end of the vans came somewhat later on. At first we used to take our meals, brought from T-hof, on station. (Also lots of C rations). And I certainly don't recall a bathroom! At first we had a "two holer" out house for which we had to dig the hole and move it periodically, filling in the old hole and digging a new one. My memories of the air whistling up my rear at 3:00 am on a cold winter's night are still rather vivid! Also, before having the privilege of having cold Berlin air blown up our butts at 3:00 AM, we had to trudge about 40 feet thru the snow to get to the outhouse - uphill, both ways, of course. It was a well known axiom among M-felde dwellers to try to do your business BEFORE going to work!!!!! Indeed M-felde existed in the very early 60's. Those of us who lived it will never forget the smell (of decaying trash that was still being deposited on the hill) in the summer and the cold in the winter including trudging up and down the hill because the bus couldn't make it thru the snow. Jim Evans (58-59/60-65)

I was tagged to help Howie Stewart (and his personal driver,” Lil" Joe Abrams - Sloth's brother) in the installation of the improvements. I remember that vividly since, that year, summer came on the day I was working on top of the pile, trying to bury an antenna anchor, developed to screw into "normal" earth, in the rocks and concrete. I had even worked up a sweat, when up drove someone from HBE with instructions to "fire up the radios, the ruskies are coming”. Of course, we also had to fire up the air conditioners to protect the equipment. The four vans, two side by side backed up toward the other two, were joined by a 2x4 platform, where the inside air-cop hung out and milk cartons left more than 30 minutes froze in the winter. The first van on the left was the radio van, behind it was the maintenance van, across from it we had a transcribe section, and the fourth van, up front, was for the comm center. In the early days, the Germans didn't like being forced to find a new dump ground. We had one of the –As with us, can't remember his name, to explain to the farmers that they couldn't dump here anymore. I remember one fellow who was so sorry to have pulled all the way up the hill, that he tried to make a quick turn around and ended up spilling his rotten cukes all over the area. I remember the cops at the bottom and at the top. One of them, I think he was Charlie flight, thought he'd go above and beyond the call, carried his own 44 magnum and installed "little surprises" that unwary intruders might happen upon. Never had to worry about surprise inspections with him on duty. One of my most vivid memories: Jim Evans and I were strolling the grounds and noticed a shiny object there in the ruble. It turned out to be a metal sign in Polish NIE OTWIERAC DRZWI (Don't open the Door). I'm still thinking of the possible places that might have been posted. We installed it on the door of the "office" area at the head of the van. Don't know what ever happened to it. As things progressed, the site turned into mainly a Polish site, so for the day time meal, the powers ordered hot meals delivered from the mess hall for every -R assigned to the unit. That way, we figured we'd have enough for every one working there. We normally did, except those rare occasions when the chow hall had steak. Those days, every day worker in HBE came out for a visit. Tom Shaw (60-63)

I also worked at the Marienfelde site when the location was conducting hearability comparison tests. I believe MSgt Howie Stewart was NCOIC of the operation at the time. I do recall the four vans backed to a wooden floor/deck with a makeshift roof over it. The bathroom was a separate porta-john initially which had a sign over the door "Jack Rabbit Club". Don't believe I have any photos of the site. Some may recall that we could see the Vopo Guard towers across the field and the towers had blinking lights. When visitors came out at dusk or evening some would ask about the lights. We would tell them that they were sending signals between the guard towers. When asked what they were saying, we would look at the light and say "I.... am... a... light". Most saw the humor in this response... Dan Dawidowicz (61-65/68-72)

Howie Stewart, emeritus "bouncer" at Silver Wings was first "site NCOIC". That was long before there was a mess area and a latrine. Stew and I always maintained that if you were on site the night the T- Hof generator lost it's fuel at 0100 hrs with only one AP for solace and no communication w/ base, that it was a nice night for the "other side" to make an end run up the hill and haul our non-working comm van back to Babelsberg. But check w/Howard and see if he has the clay tablets! Willi Colbert (60-62)

I, too, was one of the "pioneers" at the trash heap in its early stages, along with Tom Kliefges, Tom Shaw and Hal Linton, among others. We were there at the same time.....we had gone to school together at Syracuse. As with other older troops, I also remember the trips from T-hof to the "heap" in a jeep and the primitive and isolated assigned "test sight" conditions. I only remember that communications there were somewhat better for some activity than they were at T-hof. I also remember the ELINT folks turning their antenna at inquisitive Deutchers strolling, or more properly, snooping around the area to see what was going on. As they walked forward the ELINTers would slue the "dish" on them, then stopped when they saw this, then turn back, as would the dish....this bewildered them and they would go back down and not return...amusing! Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of any of this, and I regret it. Cameras were taboo anyway. Mike Gomez (60-62)

What Year??? How Many Trailers???  

Yes, it started operating in 1963 but before that there was one trailer out there on an experimental basis. Turned out so well that operators had to listen to both sides of the conversations, which was taxing at that time. Added a new dimension to the job. Tom Kleifgas was one of my operators assigned out there. That was when he was a first termer who hated the AF. A good op, but thought the grass was greener on the outside. Fortunately, he found out different and came back in the AF in 1966. Marienfelde was a lonely post at that time since there weren’t many troops out there. But it was one experiment that paid off. It wasn’t long until more trailers were added and, eventually, the whole operation was moved out to it. Ray Yarbrough (61-64/68-72)

I believe we had two trailers at the beginning. One was a communications trailer with crypto equipment. I was a crypto operator and we received the information from the other trailer and then transmitted the data to Templehof. I think that must have been in the early part of 62. I do recall the cold winter and the wonderful toilet facilities. We also had Air Police at the site at that time. I always liked the mid shift best because we got to eat chow before going out to the site and again a hot meal in the morning. The Day shift was the worst for cold rations! Lyle Morris (61-64)

The start-up date for Marienfelde still eludes me, but I do remember, early on, when only a handful of troops from each flight were working out there, we stopped the jeep while heading back in after a midshift so that our -A could buy a newspaper. The headline was "Marilyn Monroe is Dead." That was August 5, 1962 (I asked Jeeves). Tom Shaw (60-63)

The Marienfelde site was definitely in operations before 1963. Perhaps Dave is referring to an upgrade to the site that may have started in 1963. I was on Able Flight from 1960-1962. I was one of the first –Rs on the rubble pile along with a single MP and a contingent from ASA. Hal Linton (60-62/76-79)

One of my Air Police duty assignments was Marienfelde. I was stuck at the lower gate while you guys had that nice area at the top of the hill. I remember those trailers and the connecting building. Sometimes you would let me into the compound to eat in the mess hall. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of Marienfelde but do remember it well. Jim Mossman (62-65)

I don't even remember any way to SEE local gals with or without tops from the Marienfelde site. Reluctantly I assume it was T'berg. I remember hearing when I got to the 6912th in mid-62 that the positions were mined with explosives so we could blow them up if the Sovs came; we had grease guns with which we could enfilade the stairways long enough to go up with the equipment. On the other hand, at Marienfelde, although we were about 15 seconds from the balloon going up, I don't remember anything about the trailers being mined. I'm not sure if the positions/vans/sites being mined was ever true or a sort of Security Service "urban myth" -- when I did TDY at Samsun the story there was that the Duty Officer carried a 45 and his job was to put a bullet in each of our heads before we could be captured. Might even have been true, probably by the hill tribes in the area, or more likely the crews of the Soviet fishing vessels with the multimillion dollar aerials hanging out just outside the harbor. I did have a military driver's license and did a lot of driving to and from T'hof, largely one of those VW "truck" van conversions with 3/4 or 1/2 bed. D. Thewlis (62-64)

Power and Utilities

As I read the info on M-felde, I keep remembering some of the things that went on out there. I believe we started going out there in '61. I remember I spent a few mids out there and I never got warm all over. I remember sitting at the console and burning up from the waist up and freezing from the waist down. One of the vivid memories concerned the generator. They built a building for the generator so we would have some back-up power. Then the generator came in and it was about twice the size of the building that had been built. So they it left on the concrete pad down from the H-1's. But the night to end all nights was when they told us to fire it up and test it. Must have been a hundred calls to the police, the consulate, etc. and finally yelling at us to shut it off. Policy was then established that when it needed to be tested, everyone in Berlin was to be notified of the time and duration. What a place. I think I must have blocked it out of my memory, or maybe it was one huge senior moment!! Maurice Evans (61-64)

I was also at Marienfelde in the early days, initially we'd go out in those little Blue VW Micro bus vehicles, then in ARMY trucks, and at the end, in style in the Big Brown Mercedes Bus also Army, I think. Then those of us with our own transportation drove out on our own. We used to have an AP at the gate nick named "trigger Munson", He used to carry a grease gun, with banana clips taped together, I think he watched too many Steve McQueen movies running at the time. There was always a lively story about the night the Thof commander demanded entry to the site and "trigger” sprayed the ground in front of the co's car with 45 caliber shells. In the early days there was a single burner "hot plate" in the trailer so if one was so inclined you could take along Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, boil some water and avoid the C rations. I still remember when the BZ (Berliner Zeitung) carried a story about the site when it really grew, reporting that it was a new radar station for civilian aircraft. "Animal” Thomas spent some time out there during my stint in Berlin, and that always made the night shift pass quicker. I vaguely recall that ultimately there was a tower of sorts in the center of the permanent structure that had windows all the way around. Interesting place during some of Berlins thunder and lightening storms. I can still remember one particular rainy morning driving (late I might add) to the site for a day trick, down Templehoferdam. I was speeding (of course) and had to brake just as I hit an area being excavated for the U-Bahn, which the Germans liked to cover up with wooden boards and little cones connected with electrical cords for the lights. Well, I went into a spin and gathered up almost all the cones and lights in that work area. After recovering, I continued on to the site with my Renault Caravelle looking like a mechanical Christmas tree on wheels. David Manuel (Mach II) (61-64)

Renovation and Remodeling at Marienfelde

I vividly remember that the first permanent structure (at Marienfelde) was a sturdy house for the new generator (which was coming to replace the smaller ones that had to switched back and forth every night), meaning all equipment had to be shut down, then restarted. It got so we ran thru all the vans, flipping on power switches one after the other, ‘till one night, when they restored the power, it came in at 40 cycles--blew every damn fuse in the area. Anyway, once they got the building finished and shipped in the generator, they discovered that to get it into the building, they'd have to take out one wall. Tom Shaw (60-63)

It must have been after I left in May '63 that it really got going (at Marienfelde) Was it Mari or T-berg where the local gals sunbathed sans tops? Ray Presley (59-63)

I guess I'll add my M/felde memories. Had D flight there after I made tech in summer of 64. We had a pretty good crew and they were very creative with the C rations. Since we didn't have such things as a microwave there, our gang started just opening the cans and then setting them on top of the toaster...then kept pushing the start handle down until they got hot. Then one of the damm things exploded and shot beenie weenie or something else all over the kitchen. Rufus Standard was the NCOIC out there at the time and my butt still has scar tissue from that little episode. Gerald "Whitey" White (60-66/69-76)

The site opened for business on 12/15/63. I was Mission Sup of Charlie Flight. Since the archives of Tempelhof closed when the base closed-that takes care of that…My happy memories were walking up the hill on a Saturday day-watch and witnessing one of those antennae being blown. Number two was the German caretaker cutting the cables for communication between Mary and Tempelhof. Sorry I couldn't help more.  John Ferris (60-65/72-74)

I agree the building wasn't there right at the beginning, but it was before I left in early 1964. I certainly remember the C rations; I kept one of the can openers for years afterwards on my key ring. I kinda think even after the building existed we continued to get C rations at least for a while. I thought that the building included a bathroom but maybe I have just mercifully blanked out that part. Dave Thewlis (62-64)

One added thought-when Marienfelde opened for business in 12/15/-63? there was an American latrine complete with 2 stalls-no double dip and 2-3 urinals and up to date sinks for various purposes. When I returned in 72 the American latrine was changed into a supply room and there were the old double dip stalls. Never did understand that. BJ Ferris (60-65/72-74)

Mission Support and Transportation

The only thing that I had to do with it was delivering chow out there.... Vic Keithley (61-63)

I got my military drivers license at THof in April 1963. The only time I ever got close to using it was shortly thereafter when I got to ride "shotgun" to deliver midnite chow to Marienfelde. For whatever reason, the only vehicle available was a military halftrack that was so old the khaki paint had faded to a dirty mustard color. The description of the site (a square city block stacked 800 feet high with W.W.II rubble) and the trip there and back was more memorable than the site itself ‘cause I don't remember a damned thing about it! I never went back there or got to drive either. Gary Anderson (62-63)

Sometime around 1963: Each night shortly after midnight, a communication center friend would come out by my position at T-hof and open a combination-locked safe about the size of a 2-high file cabinet made out of heavy plate steel. Inside he would open a key-locked box. He would take out a punched card and replace it with a new one and tear the old one up. In reverse order he would lock everything back up, smile knowingly and return to his room behind closed doors. Using a black phone that didn’t have a dial but had a squeeze handset for one-at-a-time communication, I would then call the new test site out on the rubble pile (don’t recall that we called it Marienfelde then) and get an update for my daily report. One night, the Flight Commander, Jan Nelson, asked if I wanted to take a ride. I said, “sure”. And who wouldn’t want to take a ride at 3:00am with their Teniente to who knows where? We went to Marienfelde. It was my first trip. I think he was required to do an “on-site” once per shift. As we stopped at the gate to the compound in a late model VW bus, we were instructed to both get out of the vehicle via the passenger’s side door. We could see nothing but gate and bright lights and hear the voice but see no people. We were asked in which pocket our ID’s were located and were instructed to take the opposite hand behind our back and retrieve the ID. We then were told to back one-at-a-time to the fence and pass through our ID. Following that the guard(s) saluted the Lt. smartly and up we went to the trailers. Phil Adams (62-64)

Reading Jerry White's comments reminded me of working for him as a new guy to Berlin in Fall ‘64. When he was ready to anoint someone like me, a lowly two-stripper, to clean up after the shift, he'd circle around, as much as he could in the small confines of the vans, then point and declare, "Zakhvat". We knew we had been zapped and went for mop and bucket. I also recall working swings on Christmas Eve ‘64. Some squadron ladies, wives I suppose, accompanied by the 1st Shirt, came out and brought some cookies and cake and the like. Well, we were feeling downright blue for having to work on Christmas Eve, and we politely declined the offer to leave the vans and go to the mess hall. The First Sergeant, being a typical First Sergeant of that era, came roaring back and showed us the errors of our ways. We enjoyed the goodies with big-time smiles on our faces, just like the First Shirt said we should. Larry Demers (64-67)

Sink Distaff Commandant

All this discussion about Marienfelde jogged loose the one remaining brain cell I possess. I got there too late ('67), to have much to do with HBE other than the squadron offices being there. I think I was up there once or twice. Don't remember if I ever went into an ops area there at all except maybe for orientation. I do remember the great event of having a female assigned to Marienfelde ops. Venita E. Sink, (I think she was a Captain) came in as a flight commander. I don’t remember at what point it was, but somebody suddenly realized that we would need a separate latrine for females. I think they took one end off ours, walled it off and made a separate door from the hallway into it. This would have been in '69 I guess. I remember she loved to eat ice cream bars. We had a pretty sharp crew overall and a good NCOIC and Capt. Sink. What is scary, is that after all these years, I think I could still draw a floor plan of the building and label all the ops areas. I had intimate familiarity with the floors from mopping and buffing. R.E. Goldy (67-70)

Moving Day

Just after I arrived there in May of '67 I had the enviable task of helping to get the "stations" from the attic in Tempelhof, down the steps, on the trucks and riding shotgun (no weapons) on the trucks down to the rubble pile. I was also relieved to find out that the elevator in the Tempelhof dorm area did not turn upside down when you rode the full circuit. And I never saw the 5 basement levels below the airport. I did see some torched areas during a tour that was offered. Eeeek, it's starting to come back!!!!!!!!!! Phil Southworth (67-68), Able flight 203

The End is Near

I really enjoyed this exchange and just had to respond with the following: To all you guys contributing stories, I want you to know that I really appreciated that some had tough duty in Berlin. I worked in Heavy Radar, maintaining the long range radar for the air corridors and for all those guys that wanted to look east 210 miles. The toughest part of my duty was three afternoon shifts and then 3 midnight shifts before getting 80 hours off before starting over again. My long weekend was always changing days. I remember having to rush out of the radar shop at 6:00 am so that I could get hot breakfast and get back so that my partner on the midnight shift could also get a hot breakfast before our shift ended at 7:30 am. When working the afternoon shift, one of us would go to the early movie at the Columbia Theater and the other would go to the late movie. If we needed help, a friend was managing the theater. By calling the theater, both of us could be back at work on the rare, unscheduled maintenance problem within 5 minutes. Getting to work was tough. My barracks room was about half way between the elevator and the radar shop on the top floor. It was across the hall from the gym, the bowling alley and the sauna. I thought about you guys out there on that pile, but not often. Of course, I was up on the antenna on New Years Eve with ice and snow when the motor that turns the antenna failed. I got to call in a bunch of people with a lot more stripes than me. As you may know, the base of the antenna was 13 stories above the motor pool and the deck of the antenna another thirty feet up in the wind. It only happened once in a while but there were some interesting challenges. I do remember having to put up with guys coming back to work on the afternoon shift to take their binoculars and telescopes up on the roof and look at the female flight attendants (politically correct?) changing clothes in a locker room in the building across the motor pool. Keep this up. I’m learning more about life and times in the security service than I ever learned while in Berlin. Half the guys on the rugby team were in the 12th and I never learned anything from them except that they could drink beer. Gary Bachman (70-74) 

Although I was there much later (71-75) maybe I can add a little more perspective: The "pile of rubble in the Gruenewald" became "Teufelsberg" ("Devil's Mountain"). It was in-fact a "mountain" of rubble. It became a joint US Army/USAF/RAF/Royal Army "site." With its antenna arrays in domes/towers, it almost looked like a large penis w/testicles, especially from the Funkturm. It was - in 1972 - the most modern high-tech facility in Europe. One problem it had was establishing a reliable "station ground." It seems that since the mountain was actually concrete/stone/plaster/wood, etc., it was not conducive - or conductive - to reliable ground. I think in the end they had to drill down to solid earth. It was really a great place to work, but did not have the character of Marienfelde.  Speaking of M-felde, an AFTV Army Sergeant newsreader helped build a stock-car track out there and they ran races in full view of the VOPO towers!! Terry Sweeney (71-75)

I worked at TCA ops for about 5 months in 76. 202s were opscomm operators and adjunct 291s (crypto gear operators). In the back of ops, where the KW26s, KY3s, and KG13s were, we had bags of some mystery substance that was to be poured into the tops of equipment racks in the event of "the invasion." Once the stuff in the bags was in the crypto gear racks, we were to put a thermit [sic] grenade into the top of the gear, which theoretically would set off the mystery substance and burn the hell out of the gear's guts. Never got to do any equipment destruction but it would have been one hell of a show. All we had at Skivvy Nine was sledge hammers for equipment destruction. Bah. No fun. - Bill Sims - C flt. 202 at TCA Ops and Mary, (76-78)

Will the last man out please turn off the lights and shut the door?

I was the Emergency Destruction NCO at Skivvy Nine '83-'84. The unit owned lots of Thermit devices and "CIA barrels" but they were kept in the munitions storage area. The plan called for the base support guys to deliver that stuff when the balloon went up. It worked great during exercises but the munitions depot guys told me if it was real, they would be bringing bombs to the runway--we'd be on our own!! Shortly after I left is when they had their famous incident nearly blowing up the whole hill!! I'll throw in a Mari memoir to keep this on topic. I was a member of the Emergency Reaction Force (ERF) during my first tour. We would haul ass when the buzzer went off and grab our M-16s. One time it went off and as we went out the door we were told it was not an exercise. They had found the 7350th cop on the ground at the outer gate saying he had been attacked. Three of us followed an SP around while he was jumping on construction equipment with his pistol drawn. I was pretty spooked. Turns out it was a ruse by the 7350th cop who was pulling some kind of stunt to get out! The LAST S&W Super on duty at Mari; Dave Clary (72-73 & 88-91)

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