30 March 2015

Forty Thousand Rifles

From the Soldier side:  Back when I was a very young PFC (Private First Class, which had nothing to do with any class) I was stationed at one of the greatest post in the US Army.  Charlie Company/ 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry- The Berlin Brigade.  In 1975 I was due for promotion to Specialist E-4, (Spec-Four).  One morning I got up and began getting ready for PT (physical training) like we did every working day.  We’d warm up with the usual push-ups, sit-ups etc then go run until whoever was leading the run that morning got tired.  These runs would be anywhere from a mile to 4 miles….and I hated running. 

However, that morning the company clerk told some of us that there was a special detail that we might want to volunteer for.  Now many of you with military service might ask “why would the company clerk give us a head’s up for a special detail.”  Well, we used to drink with him so he took good care of his comrades.

So, I found my squad leader and we told him we’d be happy to volunteer for the special detail for the day.  He ran off and checked with the Platoon Sergeant, who checked with the First Sergeant, who wondered how in the hell we found out about the special detail.  But, he figured if we had good intel like that, then we were smart enough for the mission.  He told us to go draw forty fives (Colt, 1911 A1 semi auto pistols) and ammo. 

We drew our weapons and went to chow.  (a good Solider never misses chow.)  When we returned, we were told to walk over to the shipping and storage area across the post.  When we arrived, we found a small gaggle of Army MPs, who we reported to.  They told us that we’d be guarding 40,000 M16 A1 rifles that had been sent to Berlin by mistake. 

Now, even as a 19 year old PFC, I could not help but wonder how in the hell the US Army could ship even 40 rifles anywhere by mistake, much less 40,000.  We didn’t even have 40,000 Soldiers in West Berlin, even if you added the Brits and the French.  What kind of idiot could make a mistake like that.  I knew if I even lost my own assigned weapons that everybody in the Army would have known about it. 

Now, some of you are sitting there and asking: “how could they ship 40,000 rifles to Berlin by mistake, this story sounds like bullshit.”  But that’s what we were told.  I didn’t open the cases and count all the rifles…but we had a convoy of semi-trucks to guard. 
Now, keep in mind that the US Army didn’t really trust it’s Soldiers with loaded weapons….so we were only given one magazine for our pistols…that held only 5 rounds of .45 ACP ball ammo.  (I wish I had that pistol today, the one I was assigned was made in WWII by the Remington Type Writer company) 
We stood by with the MPs as the labor force loaded the cases onto the trucks.  Then the four of us got into the cabs of the 4 semi-trucks and chambered a round into our 1911A1 pistols.  We headed for Tempelhof Air Base without incident.  When we arrived at the air base, a bunch of Air Force Security Police heard what we were coming with, so they met us at the flight line and stood by as the cases of rifles were loading into the plane. 

Now, remember what I said about a good Solider never misses chow.  The AF Security Police asked us if we wanted to go eat in their mess hall.  Hell yeah!  They had fresh salad, ice cream and they even cleared off the tables for us.  After that, I’d always look for some reason to go to the Air Force base.  (years later in Iraq, I did the same thing…they always had the best food!) 
Two of our guys got on the plane and stayed with the rifles all the way back to the States.  They came back a few days later and said it was a boring trip. 

Another dumbass story with a happy ending. 

Later.  CI Roller Dude.