I am Petty Officer Richard Williamson, Jr. I am proud that my dad served on the first nuclear powered fast attack submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN 571) which set all kinds of records in the 1950s for length of submerged missions around the world including under the North Pole. SSN is the Navy's hull classification symbol for nuclear powered: SS mean "Submarine" and N means "nuclear-powered." Because of my dad, I too, joined the Navy and became a submariner. Since 1985, I have been a crew member of the USS Alabama (SSBN-731). The addition of a B in the hull classification means that my sub carries ballistic missiles with thousands of miles of range — a truly awesome capability of the US to be able to deploy beneath the sea and around the world. I have learned that this is a really dangerous world we live in and we "Boomers" have made a difference. Along with Air Force strategic bombers and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), the North American Aerospace Defense Command(NORAD) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Army Pershing missile crews and the special Americans who track possible enemy activities, we are American's first line of global defense. As I reflect back, I never thought I would spend extended hours on duty, much less up to six months submerged. On order of the President of the United States, our crew is ready in minutes, to launch nuclear weapons, whose destructive powers is hundreds of times greater than those used in 1945 on Japan. I now know that we are part of the deterrent force that, for over forty years, kept the leaders in communist countries, such as the Soviet Union, from using their huge found forces and their nuclear forces. Arms control treaties like the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INFTreaty) and the falling of the communist economic system caused the Soviet Union to collapse, but there are still nuclear-capable countries presenting a risk to free nations. However, since 1991 the likelihood of a massive nuclear attack or even an accident in much less today. We American service members all make a difference in deterring those who would do our nation harm, but we, and our families, pay a price since we must deploy about 180 days a year.
I am Specialist Eugenia Beushausen Haughian, an Intelligence stationed in Heidelberg, Germany in 1990. My dad as a "gung-ho" paratrooper who was killed in Vietnam during the Battle of Dak To on Hill 875, in November 1967. I became a soldier to honor him. Here in German, I give new soldiers a border orientation. The border was established on 1 July 1945 as the boundary between the Western and Soviet occupation zones of Germany and East and West Berlin; what Winston Churchill called the "Iron Curtain." The WWII alliance between the Western nations and the Soviet Union (mostly Russians) quickly deteriorated after the war and hard lines were drawn over control of the European territories. In response to the Soviet's actions, sixteen Western nations formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO and greed that an attack on one is an attack on all. The communist nations formed the Warsaw Pack and built on of the world's most heavily fortified frontiers, defined by a continuous line of high metal fences and walls, barbed wire, alarms, anti-vehicle ditches, watchtowers, automatic booby traps and minefields. Fifty-thousand German Democratic Republic (GDR) East German guards facing tens of thousands of West German, British and US guards and soldiers, patrolled that fortified line. In the hinterlands behind the border, called the Green Belt, more than a million NATO and Warsaw Pact troops awaited the possible outbreak of WORLD WAR III. Nuclear weapon delivery systems such as 155mm howitzers and Pershing and Ground Launched Missile Systems were on alert and capable of being fired in three minutes. Fighter planes and air defense missiles, some with nuclear capability, were also on very high alert status and constantly training for war. Our intelligence continuously monitored the Warsaw Pact forces to prevent another "Pearl Harbor" type attack. In 1948 the Soviet army closed all ground access to Berlin. To get food and coal to the people of East Berlin, the U.S. and our allies used cargo airplanes for a year to supply over tow million people in what was known as the "Berlin Airlift." Political issues were contentious. The Wall went up in Berlin in 1961. It was not to protect the residents of the Warsaw Pact but to keep them imprisoned in their own countries. In 1986 President Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!" and indeed on 9 November 1989, the Wall was breeched by crowds, then by former border guards, the border was opened. I am awaiting reassignment since I will never have to giver another "border orientation"!