Second Place Winner in the 2011 Reader Views Literary Contest (History/Science)
The year is 1986. The Cold War is five years from its end bringing a close to a nearly fifty year standoff between the United States and the USSR. The Soviet Union is outraged over a large number of Pershing missiles being kept in West Germany. President Ronald Reagan is proposing the Strategic Defense System, also known as "Star Wars", further raising the heat on the Soviets. The USSR is in turmoil over General Secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, proposing a revolutionary policy of Glasnost or "openness" toward the west. They are also mired in a war of conquest in Afghanistan. Leftist, terrorist groups such as West Germany's Red Army Faction (RAF) and France's Action Directe (AD) are threatening further attacks on western military installations. Thousands of protestors are regularly picketing sites that house nuclear weapons. It appears nothing can solve this standoff except complete, nuclear annihilation or capitulation by one of the sides. The pressure is rising quickly in the Cold War.
One company of Infantry stands between all of these enemies and live Pershing II nuclear missiles.
In this very personal memoir, the author carries the reader through his two year tour as a young Infantryman in Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment (Pershing). He shares with you the highs and lows of life in the boiler pot of a Pershing unit and in Heilbronn, Federal Republic of Germany. He takes you to the site, to the field, and out on the town as he earns his way back to "the world". This very readable adventure is both brutally honest and irreverently funny. For the first time, someone from inside 56th Field Artillery Command (Pershing) speaks out on exactly what it was like to serve in that command during the very momentous period at the end of the Cold War. You will experience the brotherhood that is exclusively found in the Infantry which was only made stronger by the unique conditions in C 2/4 Infantry. The narrative is extremely personal, but it is written in a way that is universal and will be widely enjoyed by any audience. This book is a rollicking adventure from beginning to end. A person who was actually there describes exactly what it was like to serve in West Germany during the Cold War in an immensely stressful unit. The author explains the tremendous toll it took on the minds, hearts, bodies, and souls of the men who volunteered to stand between the Eagle and the Bear. Someone is finally sharing what millions experienced in this very entertaining memoir. You will stand by the author and see the world through his eyes. You will live it.
The Cold War has become a footnote at the end of many history text books. Even though it influenced the world more than any other period with the possible exception of the Renaissance, it is normally left with a short period at the end of a history class. Millions of Americans served overseas in the Cold War, and very few of them have told their stories. There is an entire generation that only vaguely remembers hearing something about the Cold War.
"SAT & BAF! Memories of a Tower Rat" is a first step in correcting that situation.
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About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
AT, BAF, SOG, SAW, OSUT, and PRP. Do you know the lingo of the US Infantry? If not, you'll learn it and a lot more while reading this new memoir by Doug DePew. Recounting his four years stationed in West Germany during the Cold War years of the mid to late 80s, this is an eye-opening look at what daily life was like for our soldiers stationed overseas. The story begins as DePew steps off a 747, having just arrived in Frankfurt, West Germany. Taking his father's advice, he immediately heads over to a nearby bratwurst stand to sample the local cuisine. Next, he's taken through processing where he is repeatedly asked if he objects to working with nuclear weapons and if he'd "honestly never used LSD." Repeatedly answering no to both questions, he soon learns that his primary mission while stationed in West Germany will be to protect the Pershing II nuclear missiles. After a few chapters in which the author tells of exploring the area, he moves on to his first day as a "Tower Rat." The nuclear missiles were protected by three perimeter fences, set about 30 feet apart, with razor wire on both top and bottom of each fence. DePew's job was to serve as a lookout, stationed high above the fences in one of several towers. Each tower held a single soldier, 24/7. At just 10' x 10', no place to sit, and nothing to do but watch and listen, it was a lonely job. To relieve the stress and fatigue, the men had plenty of escapades during their off time. While Memories of a Tower Rat contains plenty of information about the responsibilities and risks of soldiers stationed in West Germany in the 80s, it is the bond these men shared that really shines through and makes this a book well worth reading. From the unauthorized use of a "protective mask water-proof bag" to the appearance of a snowman on top of a tower, it is clear that DePew and his fellow soldiers shared a special bond that grew stronger through the stress and loneliness of being tower rats. There are also many exploits recounted during off-hours for the men of "Charlie Company" that add a lot of humor to this book. At one point, DePew and a few friends went duck hunting with their M-16s after they discovered how to convert the weapons into spear guns. While they had a great time, they failed miserably at getting any ducks for dinner. DePew also enjoyed attending several Oktoberfest celebrations and takes the reader through the boisterous festival. There is the time his fellow soldiers snuck some British ladies onto base and also several confrontations with "the engineers." Why infantry and engineers needed to fight wasn't known, they just had to one-up each other. The author recounts these events and many more in a lighthearted, easy-to-read style that will keep the military enthusiast entertained. The author decided to pen this memoir in part to honor his buddies in "Charlie Company" as well as because the experiences of those stationed in West Germany during the Cold War went largely unnoticed by the mainstream press. He has done a good job of recreating the life and atmosphere of that long-ago era of Soviet/US tensions. Like many military memoirs, this one is filled with colorful language, numerous amorous situations with young ladies, and, as the author admits, debauchery. Be prepared for a writer who tells it like it is and doesn't mince words. Quill says: A fitting tribute to those who served as tower rats during the Cold War.