Soldier stabbed in late-night brawl with Iranians
March 7, 2003
U.S. soldiers clashed with a group of Iranians in Frankfurt early Sunday, resulting in injuries to three Americans and prompting a brigade commander to declare the city’s pub district off limits after midnight.
About 4:45 a.m., five soldiers from the 1st Armored Division and six Iranians fought on Paradisegasse in the city’s Sachsenhausen area after an exchange of threats. German police said one soldier told them the Iranians shouted anti-American sentiments.
The soldiers, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment in Friedberg, were near a taxi stand in Sachsenhausen, in the city’s South End.
During the melee, one soldier was stabbed on his left side, below the ribs, said Master Sgt. David Melancon, a division spokesman. Another soldier had his arm broken, while the third was cut on the side of his head, Melancon said.
Witnesses called for police and an ambulance, German police said. German paramedics assisted the soldiers at the scene.
The Iranians fled into a nearby building, where German police found them in a fourth-floor apartment. One Iranian suffered cuts and bruises, police said.
Inside the apartment, police found 18 grams of hashish and a pistol. All six were taken into German custody, but gave no statements. They were released Monday, German police said.
The injured troops, whom the division declined to name, were treated at German and U.S. military hospitals, Melancon said.
German police, who tested the soldiers’ blood alcohol levels, said the troops were drunk at the time of the incident. By Thursday, they were back on duty with their unit, Melancon said.
German police filed criminal charges against the soldiers and the Iranians. The case was turned over to U.S. military police in Darmstadt. The altercation is still under investigation by military and German police, 1st AD officials said.
The soldiers’ battalion, part of the division’s 1st Brigade, received orders last weekend to deploy to the Persian Gulf.
The incident occurred just blocks from where Pfc. Clint Lamebear — also from 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division — was found murdered on Nov. 16. Two U.S. soldiers had an Article 32 hearing in January to determine if they should stand trial for his killing. No court-martial date has been set, Melancon said.
Meanwhile, the pubs in Sachsenhausen are off limits to 1st Brigade troops from midnight to 6 a.m., according to Col. Michael Tucker, brigade commander. After a brigade run on Ray Barracks Friday, Tucker plans to speak with his troops about the situation, he said.
“Whatever they need to do in Sachsenhausen, they better be done by midnight,” Tucker said. “After that time, they’re up against the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”
Meanwhile, no other local base commanders have initiated an off-limits policy for Sachsenhausen, said Millie Waters, a spokeswoman for the Installation Management Agency-Europe. Commanders have the ability to initiate such an action to ensure their soldier’s safety, Waters said.
1st Brigade troops can apply for a special exemption from their command to stay later, in the case of a proven relationship with a local, Tucker said.
Sachsenhausen is a half-hour train ride from Frankfurt. Tucker has also stepped up patrols at the Friedberg train station to thwart any drunken troops from venturing to Frankfurt after hours.
“We’re trying to get in front of the problem, not just react,” Tucker said. “I’m concerned about the welfare of my soldiers. I’ll do anything to protect them.”