If you've seen what lies beyond this gate,
then we can be pals.
He that outlives this day, and
comes safe home,
tip-toe when this day is named.
live this day, and see old age,
on the vigil feast his neighbours.
strip his sleeve and show his scars.
forget; yet all shall be forgot,
remember, with advantages,
did that day.
shall the good man teach his son;
shall be remembered-
happy few, we band of brothers;
that sheds his blood with me
~Shakespeare, King Henry V
is an area between the Hesse-Thuringian border and
Frankfurt am Main in Germany. The terrain of the Fulda Gap is
neither particularly flat nor broad. It is, however, suitable
for the advance of mechanized forces on a large enough scale to present
a significant threat to U.S. forces in the context of the Cold
War. The Fulda area is one of only two corridors of lowlands
which Warsaw Pact armor is able to pass in a surprise attack
Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies.
As the defense of the
Fulda Gap terrain feature came to be seen as a key battle location of
World War III, so soared the standards and performance of the U.S. Army
assigned to defend it. We trained constantly, spending seven
every year at Grafenwohr, Hammelburg, Hoenfels, and other Bavarian
training areas. Of the U.S. Army’s forces in Germany, the
Armored Division (SPEARHEAD) had been chosen to defend this path of
attack from East Germany to the Rhine River. A successful
the Soviets to the Rhine River via the Fulda Gap would have essentially
split American forces in Europe into two parts.
forty-five years, the U.S. Army Third Armored Division (SPEARHEAD) was
Americas choice to defend the Fulda Gap. Our assigned
World War III break out, was to hold the Fulda Gap at all costs; to buy
the time for Allied reinforcements to mobilize and arrive.
most likely be the victor in the battle for Europe. Military
analysts estimated that should World War
III kick off, it would take at least 48 hours for American stateside
forces and European NATO forces to mobilize and arrive. The
Armored Division was Americas largest heavy armored division,
a combined task force of Artillery, Armor, Infantry, and
Aviation units all training and fighting together in concert; yet we
were out numbered by
forces 10 to 1. In the event that reinforcements could not be
mobilized and arrive within 48 hours, our unspoken mission was to "die
in place" defending Fulda if necessary. There
was no retreat from
December 1989, the Third Armored Division
mission. On New Years Day, 1990, the main body of the
Third Armored Division departed Frankfurt Germany to Saudi Arabia on
Air Force C-141 "Starlifters" and C-5 "Galaxy" aircraft with
two missions: To
defend the Country
of Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Shield, and to liberate the Country
of Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. In 100 hours, the Third
Armored Division and other American and allied forces defeated the best
war fighters Sadaam Hussein had to offer. Tactics used by
Third Armored Division at the Battle of 73 Easting, the Battle of
Medina Ridge, and the Battle of Norfolk are still taught in the U.S.
Armor School at Fort Benning today.
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