Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wildflecken

Kirk was eventually assigned to a tiny base called Wildflecken. If you pronounce it the proper German way you'll probably get blank stares. To much of the army it was known as 'Wild-chicken' with a long, dipthonged flat 'a' in Wild that is probably best imagined. The base was an elite training facility for SS troops in WWII and sits at the top of a hill above the town. Base legend is that the streets were laid down by Czechoslovakian Jews, and so the rough cobbles have never been paved over out of respect. Most of the buildings were original as well; only the modern white chapel (complete with disco-esque purple neon lights) seemed clearly out of place.

Wildflecken sat right in an area known as the 'Fulda Gap' - a small corridor where both sides of the cold war were constantly told the other army was sure to invade when the balloon went up. In the late 80's what it meant was the military spent months on endless readiness exercises, and when they were home busied themselves guarding empty motor pools.

It didn't make for terribly high morale. Kirk's MI unit supposedly had the highest suicide rate in the army (well, that was what they told each other, and since they believed it, it might as well be true). Guards at the motor pool were originally given a gun with ammunition, but apparently someone either killed themselves or someone else because the ammunition was taken away, and the guard was given a baseball bat instead. Then they began using the bat on the vending machine, so that was removed as well. In the end they sat in front of a large, empty lot with a large, empty rifle. A visiting officer once asked Kirk what he would do if an invading army assaulted the motor pool. He wasn't sure quite what to answer. Do you wildly wave your empty and useless rifle in the faces of the Soviet menace? Maybe that would be enough to frighten off an enemy fool enough to attack an empty motor pool.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I remember Kirk taking me out to an old tower -- fortress? -- near Wildflecken, and we played for hours. I pretended I was a guard back in the middle ages, and Kirk told me all about how crossbows work and we fired imaginary bolts and the hordes of invading soldiers.

Then a squadron of A-10s started flying attack runs on our tower. As a 13-year-old boy, that was by far the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life. It still ranks up there in the top-10.

I miss Kirk, too. And his family. I hope you guys are doing well -- I pray for you.