by William Spencer-Hale
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
Twenty Five years ago, a long and turbulent quarter of a century, the world suddenly and without any real warning changed dramatically. That filthy concrete and steel symbol of Marxist domination began to crumble; fractured and splintered by the hands of those yearning to be free.
A quarter of a century is ancient history in political cycles. An entire generation has graduated high school, college and grown up without truly knowing a world divided by ideologies, symbolized by the Berlin Wall. But for those of us who were there, wielding the sword of freedom against totalitarianism, November 9th, 1989 will never be forgotten.
It was a chilly, rainy day, as are most for early November in West Germany. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were implementing the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement which had been signed by Reagan and Gorbachev and ratified by Congress in 1987. Fear of the Pershing Missile system, the intermediate range nuclear weapon system that had so upset the Soviets since its deployment in 1983, had brought the Communist government to the bargaining table, resulting in the landmark treaty to mutually decommission and destroy an entire category of weapons.
In Heilbronn, Neu Ulm and Schwabisch Gmund, the three areas in West Germany which housed Combat Alert Sites dedicated to the weapon, crews and support units of Pershing, this would be a day that would define our service. I was at Camp Redleg, the Combat Alert Site just outside Heilbronn, having served for four years at that point as a soldier in the 56th Field Artillery Command, a special operations task force dedicated to the weapon system.
Rumors started filtering through the ranks quickly. This was before the days of cell phones, Facebook, Twitter and the twenty four hour news cycles of today. I was the last generation of soldiers for whom “snail mail” was priceless. To be stationed so far from home was truly to be cut off from everything. Your unit was your family. It was all you had.
The klaxon blared across the compound. We grabbed our protective masks and rushed to the Armory to be issued our rifles. We then ran to the Exclusion Area, the section of Combat Alert Site which contained three launch pads — one for each platoon’s three missiles in a firing battery. And there we waited as more information was passed down. At that moment in time, we were standing on the edge of the end of the world; prepared to send a fiery nuclear intervention if the Marxists in East Germany tried to stop their people from breaking their chains, or if the Red Army moved in to quell the uprising.
But none of that happened. It was too late. The morally, spiritually and financially bankrupt philosophy of Marxism destroyed itself. It was eaten away by the inherent right, given by God from the beginning of time, that all men and women are free to choose their own destiny. That the Marxist philosophy of an atheist state in no way altered the actual nature of a yearning heart.
Several years later, in an interview, Gorbachev quoted in regards to the Pershing II Missile system that, “It was like holding a gun to our head.” The Pershing system could engage targets deep in Soviet territory and there was simply no defense the Soviets could field to prevent that. As such, we were the shield from which Eastern Europe could use to secure their own freedom.
The irony is that the weapon often decried by the American and European left as that which would bring about the end of the world, actually renewed the world. A weapon which could have been the end of all things was instead the beginning of all things to the populations of Eastern Europe. It was the last argument of the kings of the old world, of the old order, of a world divided. The Cold War was a war hard fought and many suffered during the conflict to restrain Communist aggression and expansion.
Millions served during that conflict, putting their lives on hold to perform their duty, as rough men and women with rifles often do. Infantry, Cavalry, Field Artillery and all the combat support units performed amazing feats of courage and endurance to change the world in the 20th Century. But it was the Pershing Missile, made political and newsworthy by the protestations of the Soviets and the whining of the world’s leftists, that ushered in the modern era and cracked the foundation of the Soviet Union.
Today, I raise a glass to my brothers and sisters from long ago. You will always be my family and it has been my greatest honor to have been given the privilege to stand with you. Rest easy today, knowing that your service was not in vain.
And my advice to a new generation: stay vigilant. Evil will always regroup. Pick up your rifle and become the shield in which freedom can find comfort. It is your day now. Let not darkness engulf us again.
William Hale is a polymath, a conundrum amongst his friends and coworkers, a man whose interests run contrary to modern stereotypes. William is equally adept at both trapshooting and pastels portraiture, armed defense instruction and Christian philosophy. A veteran of the Cold War who served as a Pershing crew member during very worrisome times, his faith runs deep and his knowledge of history is formidable. This combination gives him an understanding and insight into the intertwined physical and spiritual aspects of life that few understand. His gift is that he has no fear of the evils he perceives and is able to explain the world around him to those who listen.