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Visitors and Guests

During the Germany years, the Armored Cavalry Regiment was host to a wide variety of significant, important or just plain interesting visitors from the United States. Fulda was convenient to the Rhine Main airport and the first rate troopers found in the Regiment were always willing to provide an equipment demonstration, briefing and border tour. The first squadron was the usual host but on occasion, visiting dignitaries and notables also included Hersfeld and Bad Kissingen on their itinerary. While rumors persist to this day that everyone from Richard Nixon to Elvis Presley stopped at Daley Barracks or the border camp, our goal here is to recall the visits that were documented. As facts and images become available, we will update our list and if you can provide any additional detail, please send an e mail.

The Secretary of the Army

May 1977

The visit of Secretary of the Army Clifford Alexander, Jr. to USAREUR in the late Spring of 1977 was not reported by the Blackhorse Newspaper. Mr. Alexander was moving fast and the reporters probably had trouble keeping up. Hidden in Lee Reeder’s files, however, were four wonderful 8 x 10 color photographs of the Secretary as he passed through OP Alpha and then met troopers of the Eaglehorse while participating in Exercise "Certain Fighter".

The "slugs", official captions taped to the back of the images, provide scant additional data. The photographs were from Alexander’s 1- 6 May visit to Germany and the names of three Eaglehorse troopers were recorded, SCO Gilbreath, Troop F Commander CPT James D. Young and Platoon Sergeant Artis Williams. Interestingly, the gun barrel of an H Company tank is prominent in one of the images.

Apparently, Alexander talked, gawked and walked; one has the sense that his UH 1 hardly cooled down during the course of the visit. Nevertheless, the troopers probably still recall the day when one of the memorized names from the highest level of their chain of command suddenly appeared, reached out his hand and said, "Hello!".

The Honorable Clifford Alexander, Jr.

Mr. Alexander served for the full four years of the Carter administration and as is often the case, his contributions are best appreciated when viewed in the long term. In many respects, from significant personnel policies through major combat equipment, the Army that deployed to the Middle East to eject Iraq from Kuwait began to form during the period 1977 - 1981. From personnel and pay to equipment and extending to the very soul of the Army as an institution based on merit and professionalism, Clifford Alexander, Jr. left a lasting mark.

An early challenge faced by the Secretary of the Army in 1977 and 1978 was to marshal continued support for the troubled volunteer Army force. At the Pentagon, Chief of Staff of the Army General Bernard Rogers and in Germany, the V Corps Commander, LTG Sydney Berry, called for a return to the draft to meet shortfalls in both quantity and quality of troops. Of particular concern were the shrinking numbers of the Individual Ready Reserve and Reserve Component Units. General Rogers doubted that the necessary men to support the Army in the event of war could be activated quickly and he openly campaigned for a return to conscription.
  Secretary of the Army Clifford L. Alexander, Jr. takes a ride in an APC at an observation outpost on the East German border near Fulda. Alexander viewed activity across the border through special equipment at the site. The secretary was on a whirlwind tour of the V Corp exercise "Certain Fighter" while on his first visit of US Army intallations in Germany May 1 - 6.  --Rudi Williams   Army Secretary Clifford L. Alexander, Jr. listens to comments by LTC John C. Gilbreath, commander, 2/11 Cav, V Corps during the Secretary's visit to units in the field during V Corps exercise "Certain Fighter". Looking on are CPT James D. Young, 29, F Troop commander and PSG Artis Williams. --Rudi Williams  

Mr. Alexander, working under strict budget constraints imposed by Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, countered that increased pay and benefits would solve most of the problems in the VOLAR and that quality troops would then flow into the Reserves following service on active duty. The return to the draft talk ended and the first of many significant pay increases began. An entire new approach considering the importance of both quality of life and fair pay was initiated in the military and those initiatives continue to this day.

The full integration of women into the Army began under Secretary Alexander as the Directorship of the Women’s Army Corps was dismantled and the first attempts for seamless inclusion of women began. Congress and the Pentagon were skeptical of the program and hearings were held in Congress in 1977 over the high number of sexual abuse claims rising from the 55, 000 women on active duty in the Army. Alexander believed that increases in pay and vigorous recruiting would bring both quality men and women into the Army and that as more women began careers as junior officers or rose through the enlisted ranks to the NCO grades, any lingering systemic prejudice in the Army would be worn away. As of 2005, women make up more than 27 % of the total Army force.

Arguably of greatest significance in personnel matters, Secretary Alexander worked to extinguish the last traces of institutional racism from the promotions boards for senior officers. In 1977, Mr. Alexander sensed that the "green wall" for black officers existed at the promotion point to brigadier general and he actively worked to overhaul selection criteria and promotion board procedures to create a color blind system. Historians agree that the career of General (Ret) Collin Powell could easily have stalled at the grade of colonel if not for the efforts of Alexander to insure that race could not be used in an overt or covert fashion to block otherwise qualified officers from the general officer ranks.

On the equipment side, Secretary Alexander worked for continued funding for the M1 and M2 programs as well as a host of other innovations that would be fielded in the mid and late 1980s. He did not consider himself a technical expert but took careful counsel from his staff on the developmental needs of the Army and in an era of limited defense budgets that had to accommodate both conventional weapons and the massive and expensive nuclear force, Alexander worked to find sufficient money to keep key programs rolling forward. Interestingly, both the equipment evolution and political negotiations that led to the Pershing II deployment in Germany that President Regan so skillfully marketed, began as a Carter - Brown - Alexander plan.

Mr. Alexander contributed to the formal guidelines that evolved into the Base Realignment and Closure Plan that worked to eliminate politics as much as possible, from the basing considerations of the military. The basic framework he established is still in use as the planned final round of basing review and alignment completes its process.
  Army Secretary Clifford L. Alexander, Jr. talks to troops of the 2/11 Cav in the field during V Corps exercise "Certain Fighter". Looking on at right is CPT James D. Young, F Troop commmander. --Rudi Williams   Secretary Alexander chats with PSG Artis Williams of the 2/11 Cav during FTX. --Rudi Williams  

In retrospect, much of the Army recalled from the mid and late 1970s seems an untidy affair. Personnel quality, drug abuse and racial strife undermined unit readiness and morale. Many of these problems were inherited from the Ford administration and can be attributed to the post Vietnam "hang over" that gripped both the Army and the nation. The initial VOLAR programs of 1972 thru 1975, complete with "soldier counsels" and "brigade commander rap sessions" were conceived with the best intentions but often forgot that a combat warrior force is not modeled after a union shop or an academic debating society. Drug abuse was prevalent in the American society as a whole and the Army, in both the best and worst sense, reflected the population it stood to defend. For a few hectic years in the 1970s, the military lost its sense of discipline and mission.

The Carter administration and the Brown - Alexander initiatives sought to address many of the significant problem areas they found in the Army. With only four years to work, it may have been difficult to see significant immediate improvements during the tenure of Mr. Alexander, however, when the Army that deployed to Desert Storm is considered, from personnel to structure through equipment, much of what President Regan bought with massive budgets began as programs initiated under Carter - Brown - Alexander.

Long after departure from government service, Mr. Alexander is still very active in a wide variety of consulting positions. A list of links providing greater detail of his public and private sector career is below.

US Army biographical sketch of Secretary Alexander.

National Football League Players

March 1978

During the first week in March, 1978, four NFL players, Russ Francis, Patriots, Willie Brown, Raiders, Mike Montler, Broncos and Lawrence McCutheon, Rams, toured Germany and the 7th Army as part of a USO sponsored event. It was a fast paced, month long visit for the players and the Blackhorse Newspaper printed a photo as they visited OP Alpha. The caption indicates the party also stopped at Daley Barracks or Camp Lee but without further detail. Mike Montler recalled the trip.

Mike Montler

"What a wonderful time! That season, I had played for the Broncos and we went to the Super Bowl. Although we lost to Dallas, it was an event of a life time. I think it was late in the season or maybe after the Super Bowl, the public relations guys asked me if I wanted to go on a tour to meet US military soldiers in Germany. How could I say no? Most of the good stuff went to the quarterbacks and such, I was an offensive line guy so I jumped at the chance. I think they also remembered that I had interrupted my college playing days at Colorado to be a US Marine for two years and had even played for the Marine club team in San Diego. I was the right guy for that job."

"I wish I could fill in more of the detail and to be honest, I don’t recall Bad Kissingen or Fulda as particular places. We toured in a big bus and it was a little like the movie Animal House! As we crossed Germany, a unit guide would join us and we would visit several bases to meet troops over a two or three day period. Then when that guide was done, we would drive some more and link up with the next guide and the visits would start all over again. Many times, it was the small, out of the way rocket bases and such that do stand out in my memory. It was all very informal and much fun. We would talk to the soldiers face to face while they were working, answer questions, sign autographs, recall the past season or speculate about the next one and share a meal if it was lunch time. I do remember when we took a helicopter ride along the border - that was very impressive."

  NFL players seem pleased about a 15 minute ride they took in an APC after their tour of OP Alpha, 1/11 ACR border camp. On APC with back to camera is Russ Francis, Patriots, in front from L to R: Willie Brown, Raiders,William Granholm, NFL Assist. Commissioner and Mike Montler, Broncos. Not pictured is Lawrence McCutheon, Rams. The NFL stars toured the four squadron areas during a two day stay, 3 - 4 March. --Reeder   Mike Montler's Topps Card from his Super Bowl year with Denver. --Topps Cards  

"At nights, we stayed in local hotels and bed & breakfast places and if we weren‘t scheduled for visits on a particular day, we became regular tourists. Each of us was well over six feet three inches and two hundred fifty pounds plus, we were the biggest Americans the Germans had ever seen! From the Army to the Germans, everyone treated us great."

"Our bus driver and translator was named Dieter Scheibolt and he was memorable. We would bet him that he couldn’t get that touring bus up these narrow - winding roads leading to castles and such … and he would smile and up we’d go at high speed; often it seemed there was a lot more bus than road but Dieter made it every time, even it meant that after the castle visit, he would have to back the bus down that dangerous road to get us out! We would try and teach him American English and he taught us a few German phrases"

"I do recall Berlin. We visited the troops and then our bus proceeded across the border for a day long tour. We visited a huge military cemetery, toured the austere city, saw their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the ceremonial changing of the guard. Because of my military experience, all this made a big impression on me. That night, we had dinner at a very formal restaurant and it seemed like we had gone twenty years back in time and it was a set out of some spy movie."

"I was glad to have made that USO trip, I learned a lot and I think the soldiers we met enjoyed the visits. After we returned, I played one more season and then left football for a new career. Now fully retired, I have many souvenirs around the house from ten years of professional ball with some great teams and Hall of Fame players. On the mantle, I have a beer mug I was given while on that Germany tour. When I see it, I always smile and recall that wonderful trip."


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