Cold War fixture bound for home in California
Stars and Stripes May 11, 2008
The old Fulda flagpole will have a flappy ending after all.
Earlier this year, Army officials in Hanau, Germany, were unsure what would happen to the 104-foot flagpole planted near the entrance to Pioneer Casern. With the community emptying out for good this summer, the fate of this Cold War relic remained up in the air.
But recently, Army officials decided its rightful new home should be with its original unit, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, said Staff Sgt. Ken Young, a Hanau engineer.
The 11th ACR once defended the Fulda Gap, viewed as the Warsaw Pact’s primary invasion route into Western Europe.
The unit has been based at Fort Irwin, Calif., for more than 13 years.
“I was just informed that is where it is going,” Young said Friday of the flagpole.
Erected shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the pole stood by the 11th ACR’s headquarters on Downs Barracks until the unit departed in 1994. It was left behind, halyard and all.
For more than five years it maintained a silent vigil over an important site in the Cold War.
Young, who was assigned to the 130th Engineer Brigade in the late 1990s, led a successful effort to move the flagpole to Pioneer Casern in early 2000. Now he’ll have the honor of helping to lower the 13,870-pound flag holder.
Hanau officials plan to take the pole down Wednesday. A work crew will then prep it for the long journey to the Mojave Desert.
“I’m pleased that it’s going,” Young said. “It just won’t sit there, abandoned, like it was at Downs Barracks.”