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SAT & BAF!: Memories of a Tower Rat Paperback – February 24, 2011
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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Doug DePew's sense of humor shines in this memoir. He had me laughing at many of the antics. I enjoyed reading DePew's story. It is well-written and the style is conversational. I could imagine sitting with him and listening to him reminisce. DePew wrote this book in honor of his fellow soldiers. Let them not be forgotten. -Reader's Favorite
DePew and his buddies were hard drinking, brawling, fraulein-chasing, pranksters who, when duty called, seriously guarded the warheads and missiles from Soviet and peacenick attacks. Men who bonded and always had each others back. I appreciated DePews' story and will keep the book on my shelf. ~Lee Boyland, Military Writer's Society of America
DePew is an engaging writer. His narrative in "SAT & BAF!: Memories of a Tower Rat" is fast-moving, filled with quick wit, genuinely honest and candid. ~~ Richard R. Blake for Reader Views
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Doug DePew's book is truly a snapshot in time, a journey into one of the most unique US Army infantry battalions that existed during the cold war era. 2d Bn 4th INF had been in Germany with it's parent unit, 56th Field Artillery (Pershing)for several decades (HQ was activated in Heilbronn in the early 60's). The replacement of the Pershing 1's with Pershing 2's began in the early 80's however. This was in response to Soviet deployment of the SS-20, a mobile nuke missle with a range of over 2,000 miles (The P1 had a range of 400). Although highly controversal, the deployment of the P2, combined with the Cruise missile are the weapon systems most credited with helping to hasten the end of both the Warsaw Pact and USSR.
Doug's book begins with his arrival at Frankfort, Germany late fall 1986. He is a freshly minted US Army Lightweapons Infantryman, MOS 11b, 18 y/o and straight out of Ft Benning. Although Doug probably saw himself riding about Germany on a M113 or maybe the just deploying Bradley IFV, the army, after careful screening has another mission for Doug and the 10-20 other screened 11b's arriving at Frankfort that week. Doug gets assigned to 2/4, an infantry battalion who's only mission is guarding the Pershing missiles. While Doug could have gone to Neu Ulm with the bulk of 2/4, he gets assigned to the seperate company, Charlie which operated a couple hours away in Heilbronn.
The book proceeds on his two year journey there, as another reviewer pointed out, written in a nice conversational tone. Doug puts you there as he meets his fellow 'cherries' (FNGs, new guys) hits the town for the first time, does his first site tour, the craziness that ensued after almost all site tours. Doug explored a good chunk of Europe while there, both with his friends and alone, he takes you on those trips. The book is a quick, easy read and will have you laughing at many of the adventures. He doesn't sugar coat anything either, during his first year he has an accidental discharge and get's an article 15, he was burned out after being on the missile site for over a month; many would do far worse things.
A previous reader expressed concern at drinking and excessive fighting. It has to be realized that due to the unique mission of 2/4, troops generally spent over half the year 'on site', in total isolation. There were no cell phones, internet or even newspapers. Troops of 2/4 when on site lived like submariners, without the good food and extra pay. So it is natural when they get off 'the rock' they blow off steam, lots and lots of steam.
I think anyone who served in Europe would like this book, especially those who served during that era. Anyone interested in modern military history or the cold war as well. The book is a no holds, funny, irrevrent look at a young man coming-of-age, reminiscent of some of the great satirical war novels with the twist that it's all true!
In the fall of 1987 Doug was in the towers with two of his first C 2/4 roomates. SPC Joe Alvarez was short, it was his last tour. Joe had a bitter outlook on his C 2/4 experience and always stated he didn't want to be one of those 'loser veterans' who wax nostalgic about their army time. "Look out there" Joe said, pointing to the woodline, "4,000 miles away people in America are going to their 9-5 job, people are sleeping, eating, doing whatever; They have no idea about 2/4, the towers, they don't know what we do, they don't care, no one knows or cares." I don't know who else was in that relief, but I was the other of Doug's roomates there. With Doug's book I hope that at least some people may finally know and have some understanding of what we did.
It's all true, just like Doug said, I know, I was there too.
Co C 2/4 INF--11/86 to 4/90
Mr. DePew graphically describes the escapades of the unit he served with for two years in Germany, 2/4. At first I was turned off by the content but then this isn't like "Chickenhawk," or "Soldat." The only real enemy appears at the gates of the Pershing compound once a year (Easter) to demonstrate against the US deploying mid-range nukes aimed at Russia. How many of us remember the protests being carried on TV. I do. The Germans wanted us out, or at least the young people who thought the US was somehow inflaming the Russians to use Germany as the testing ground for WWIII. Wonder how many protests occurred in the Eastern Bloc countries during the same period?
How does the average kid of 18 to 24 spend his days when not on duty? Liquor and women, what else! Some might not like the content because of the subject matter, but seriously, how many of us that attended college or even those that didn't; how did we spend our days after work. Work, yeah we went to work everyday for eight to twelve hours. We knew the tasks assigned to us with something to show for our efforts each day. These men/women only had the tedium broken by the entertainment that was on hand. Imagine being boxed in an area of twenty acres for two years, with only drills and Tower Duty to break the monotony of the routine. How many of us have the fortitude to survive solitary for two days, weeks, much less, two years?
Once I finished the book I really thought about how highly strung these men/women were. Boredom has killed more people then we care to think of. So, don't be too hard on these men and women who really did have a thankless job keeping the United States military on a twenty-four hour alert during the Cold War. Their effort and sacrifice (under the leadership of Reagan) were instrumental in bringing down the Russian Bear without ever firing a shot in anger.
On a final note, I had to listen to the song "Silverwings," by Merle Haggard. the German girls hated it because those wings were taking away the men they had enjoyed and come to know.
Mr. DePew, I salute you and your comrades for your service.
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Doug DePew has an engaging style which is easy to read and to...Read more
This account is right on - get the book.