Earlier this year, Gil called Bob Charest and discussed a concept and idea he had for making of a Detachment “A” plaque. Bob said ‘go for it’. Gil came up with the concept and design, hired a woodcarver to construct the plaque, and funded it. Gil put a lot of thought, time and effort into this plaque.
Gil wanted an ‘eagle’ cane for Detachment ”A”. Eagle Canes are a tradition in many states. Woodcarvers/artists hand craft each custom cane and donate it to the veteran; in support of our veterans. Maine shares in this tradition and Gil hired George and Donna Gunning, of Windsor ME. They carve each eagle cane individually to specifications and donate it to any veteran who has honorably served, no matter how long they served.
Gil wanted the eagle cane to be focal point feature of the plaque.
The woodcarvers did their research about Detachment “A”. They read the articles posted on our web site and as they learned more about Detachment “A” they became very enthusiastic about the unit and the project.
The overall plaque design consisted of: the eagle cane mounted on the plaque, Detachment A” items, US Army items and a large area for Detachment “A” members to sign their name and dates they served in Detachment ”A”.
Gil collected all the items he wanted on the plaque then created a mock-up where each item would appear on the plaque. The entire project took about 4 months. There was a lot of collaboration and iterations – Gil was very particular on what he wanted.
Gil’s Detachment “A” Plaque Description
The actual wooden plaque is 4 feet long and 2 feet high. It weighs 40 pounds. It will be positioned at a 20 degree angle for proper viewing. Gil described each component of the plaque as follows:
The most distinguishing feature of this artifact is the Eagle Cane. The cane has an intricate Bald Eagle’s Head carved and painted into the handle representing the national symbol of freedom and independence. The shaft of the cane consists of the American Flag, the Army Branch of Service emblem, a burned etching of “Detachment ”A” with dates of existence 1956-1984, and the Berlin Occupation Medal.
On the left side there is a burned-in wooden block etched with MG Sidney Shachnow’s name, as he is the best known Commander of Detachment “A”. In the center there is another larger burned-in wooden block containing the Special Forces Crest, SF Shoulder Patch, American and German Wings, and two Detachment “A” coins one coin for the Head and one for the Tails which were Gil’s own coins. The head consisting of a parachute, represents the infiltration into Berlin by Detachment “A” members led by MG Sidney Shachnow(Ret). The tail consisting of a broken wall represents the exfiltration of Detachment “A” out of Berlin as LTC Piasecki(Ret) was the officer in charge of the final 10 days to clear out, sanitize and clean the station. On the right side of plaque there is another burned -in wooden block etched with LTC Eugene Piasecki’s name.
The far right side of the plaque contains the Taps List with those departed members of Detachment “A”. It is positioned under base of the cane. Gil expressed its significance to be that whenever the base of a cane touches the ground it serves as a reminder of our honored comrades and brothers who are no longer with us, and to honor them and never forget them.
The original taps list was sent out for reformatting and printing. It was originally printed on plain white paper. The owner wanted to know about the ‘Taps List’. When Gil explained it to her she ordered it to be re-printed on parchment and refused to accept any payment.
On the back of the plaque Gil wrote: “Donated by Gil Turcotte, SGM(Ret) 2017”.
The rest of the plaque is reserved for Detachment “A” member signatures and certain dignitaries. Each member signs their name along with time served in Detachment “A”.
Detachment “A” Plaque Signing
Gil arrived on Wednesday to the 2017 Detachment “A” function in honor of Jeff Raker with the plaque.
Gil designated that the first signature and the location of the signature at the top of the bald eagle’s head be reserved for Bob Charest. Gil wanted Bob to have this distinction of being the first to sign because he ‘brought Detachment “A” in from the cold” and “made it prominent by bringing long due recognition for the unit”. Bob was honored as the first Detachment “A” member to sign the plaque at the head of the eagle.
Members present on Wednesday also signed the plaque including John Lee, Chris Feudo, Rick Westbrook, Steve Bright, Lee Fondas, and Eugene Piasecki who signed under the block containing his name.
On Thursday after MG Jim Guest’s speech, Gil had CSM Jeff Raker’s son Jeff to sign the plaque on his father’s behalf and in his honor.
Gill then caught up with our distinguished guest speaker MG James Guest’s(Ret) former Commanding General, United States Army Special Forces Command and obtained his signature.
Gil continued collecting signatures from all Detachment “A” members present at our function. He also signed for some members with their permission, who were unable to attend, including Daryl Katz, Peter Gould and Doug Curry.
On Friday, right before our ceremony, Gil got MG Sidney Shachnow(Ret) to sign the plaque under the block containing his name.
Our June 2017 function in honor of Jeff Raker, included the presentation of the plaque. At the conclusion of our ceremony after MG Shachnow’s speech, Bob Charest called on Gil Turcotte who then presented the plaque to MG Sidney Shachnow(Ret) who then donated it to the JFK Museum on behalf of Detachment “A”.
About the Cane Woodcarvers
At the far right bottom corner of the plaque contains the woodcarver’s names George and Donna Gunning, Windsor ME, 2017. They did not want to put their logo because they thought it might detract from the plaque but Gil convinced them to place it on the plaque. They have produced 3,800 canes for Maine veterans at no cost to the veterans. Donations are accepted to keep the tradition going. Gil presented them with an autographed copy of Styk’s book Special Forces Berlin: Clandestine Cold War Operations of the US Army’s Elite, 1956–1990 as a gift, along with a donation for their work.
Styk on C-Span
Jim “Styk” made a presentation on C-Span 3 (History) to talk about his book and the unit: Styk’s C-Span 3 (History) Presentation
“Jim “Styk” Stejskal’s book, Special Forces Berlin: Clandestine Cold War Operations of the US Army’s Elite, 1956–1990 .
Highly classified until only recently, two U.S. Army Special Forces detachments were stationed far behind the Iron Curtain in West Berlin during the Cold War. The units’ existence and missions were protected by cover stories, their operations were secret.
The massive armies of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies posed a huge threat to the nations of Western Europe. US military planners decided they needed a plan to slow the juggernaut they expected when and if a war began. The plan was Special Forces Berlin. The first 40 men who came to Berlin in mid-1956 were soon reinforced by 60 more and these 100 soldiers (and their successors) would stand ready to go to war at only two hours’ notice, in a hostile area occupied by nearly one million Warsaw Pact forces, until 1990.
Their mission should hostilities commence was to wreak havoc behind enemy lines, and buy time for vastly outnumbered NATO forces to conduct a breakout from the city. In reality it was an ambitious and extremely dangerous mission, even suicidal. Highly trained and fluent in German, each man was allocated a specific area. They were skilled in clandestine operations, sabotage, intelligence tradecraft and able to act as independent operators, blending into the local population and working unseen in a city awash with spies looking for information on their every move.
Special Forces Berlin was a one of a kind unit that had no parallel. It left a legacy of a new type of soldier expert in unconventional warfare, one that was sought after for missions such as the attempted rescue of American hostages from Tehran in 1979. With the U.S. government officially acknowledging their existence in 2014, their incredible story can now be told.
Styk is also the author of the book The Horns Of The Beast: The Swakop River Campaign & World War I In South West Africa, published by By Helion & Company.
The book,tells the story of the South African Army in its first foreign operations and the German Schutztruppe’s defense of their colony, German South West Africa, during World War I from 1914-1915. It will be available on Amazon this month.
Styk lived in Namibia from 2010 to 2013 and researched the history and battle sites on the ground. He used primary sources, along with accurate maps and charts of the battles, to shed new light on General Botha’s strategy and his opponent’s defense.
Special Forces Association (SFA) and its buildings were seriously hit by Hurricane Matthew this past October. It caused severe damage to the National Headquarters Building, the Special Forces Association “Team House” and the Maintenance Building all receiving varying depths of flooding.
The property damage sustained is not covered in their insurance policy since the loss was caused by flood. The SFA will therefore have to pay out of pocket to rebuild from the loss.
The National Headquarters Building sustained the heaviest damages, and the expense to repair, has been conservatively estimated by their Insurance Adjuster at $250,000.00.
Here is a link to detailed information about the situation and plans to move forward: http://www.specialforcesassociation.org/bulletin-board/national-bod-columns/presidents-column/
They are accepting personal donations. If you would like to contribute to this disaster recover relief effort please do so as this is our only Special Forces fraternal organization.
You can send your donations to:
Special Forces Association
Fayetteville, NC 28309-1436
NOTE: Do not mail to the street address on Doc Bennett Road as SFA HQ has temporarily relocated until repairs have been made.
Donations sent should be marked “Disaster Recovery from Detachment-A”
Pass the word along.
Bob Charest Host/POC Detachment”A”
Lowell Storer, passed away at his home in Tucson, Arizona on 23 December 2016. He was a member of Detachment(A) from 1974-1978 and again from 1980 to 1983.
Lowell, Storer, Sgt. Major, US Army Special Forces, Ret Lowell was born on July 8, 1940 in Idaho Falls, ID to Walter and Ruby Storer, the second of seven children. He passed away on December 23, 2016 in Tucson, AZ. He was preceded in death by his youngest son, Norman. He is survived by his wife of 58 years Gerlinde, and his sons, Michael and Bryan, their spouses and four grandchildren. He served 32 years in the U.S. Army, most of which as a Green Beret. He also served two tours of duty in Vietnam. Lowell loved being a soldier and a Green Beret. After his retirement, he worked for and retired from Central Arizona Project (CAP). Lowell was a kind and gentle man who loved all animals, especially his dogs Peppi and Sam whom he rescued from the desert. Services will be held in Idaho Falls, ID on Saturday, January 14, 2017 after which he will be interred there. We will forever miss him. Funeral Arrangements are by WOOD FUNERAL HOME, 273 North Ridge Ave., Idaho Falls, Idaho 83405.
One last wish from CSM Jeff Raker, was to donate the Chicken Friday plaque he received upon his departure from Detachment”A” in 1981, to the members of Detachment”A”.
Chicken Friday was created back in the 1971-1972 era with SGM Tony Kriculi, and MAJ Sid Shachnow. In the 1970s era, Detachment”A” annexed the old HQ & HQ company mess hall kitchen right next door to the Detachment”A” building. It was renovated by Detachment”A” members into a Day Room complete with a bar, which was annexed from the hospital. The Day Room also included a pool table, a parachute canopy over the bar, and beer from Czechoslovakia called “Budvar”, not local beer i.e., Schultheiss and Berliner Kindl. It was improved during the years leading up to the deactivation of the Detachment in 1984.
On Friday afternoons we had a formation and assigned tasks for various cleanup areas, vehicle maintenance, and other such upkeep duties. These activities lasted about two hours which then turned into “Chicken Friday”, a social gathering and bier fest for the rest of the evening. Because of our compartmentalization, and not much downtime among us for socializing, it became a highly anticipated event. Chicken Friday was frequently attended by Navy Seals from Crete, teams from 10th Special Forces attending our classified city training course, and the German Secret Police whom we worked with. Chicken Friday and the fest after, was a really big morale booster for the men of Detachment”A” and helped keep “What happened in the Detachment, stayed in the Detachment”.
At our last Detachment”A” function in Asheville on Friday 16 September of 2016, Jeff Raker presented the plaque he received in 1981, to our Chicken Friday. He hand carried this symbolic artifact all the way from Guam, and it came with him first class – 35 years later. After the meeting Kevin Monahan suggested that the plaque be donated to the JFK museum. Bob Charest secured the Chicken Friday plaque and will ensure the plaque is transported to Roxanne Merritt, the JFK museum director/curator where she will ensure that it will reside and serve as part of Detachment”A” history.
This historic Chicken Friday plaque presented to CMS Jeff Raker back in 1981 is being donated to the JFK Museum on behalf of all the men from Detachment”A” 39TH Special Forces.
Chicken Friday 1977
There are ten Distinguished Members of the Special Forces Regiment that served in Detachment(A) Berlin Special Forces. They are:
Michael D. Linnane
Thomas E. Powell
Jack Murphy from NEWSREP wants to write an article exclusively about Detachment(A) in Berlin to include its many missions during its existence. This will be a follow-up article to the short article he wrote and published on 27 April 2016 entitled Detachment A: the Cold War Sabotage Experts of Special Forces.
This follow-up article will contribute to the history Detachment(A) and most importantly to its history in Special Forces.
He would like to hear from Detachment(A) members, so if you are interested please contribute any and all of our many missions and stories to him.
This is the main reason I started this 10 years ago as we were dying on the vine. Detachment(A) is one of the most distinguished units Special Forces ever had, yet we officially did not exist. Some of the most qualified Special Forces troops ever created served during the existence of Detachment(A).
Use this form to contact Jack Murphy.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]
is an eight year Army Special Operations veteran who served as a Sniper and Team Leader in 3rd Ranger Battalion and as a Senior Weapons Sergeant on a Military Free Fall team in 5th Special Forces Group. Having left the military in 2010, he graduated from Columbia with a BA in political science. Murphy is the author of Reflexive Fire, Target Deck, Direct Action, and numerous non-fiction articles about Weapons, Tactics, Special Operations, Terrorism, and Counter-Terrorism. He has appeared in documentaries, national television, and syndicated radio.
The Detachment (A) Memorial Stone Dedication Ceremony was hosted by LTG Charles Cleveland, Commanding General for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) on 30 January 2014.
The Detachment”A” Memorial stone is in place and the colors were retired with dignity and honor. The dedication ceremony was outstanding, as was the Chicken Friday’s free event, both food and beers. Lots of folks had to cancel due to the weather, however the event was well attended, including Juan Renta, Rocky Farr, Ron Braughton, Jeff Raker, Carl Beene, Gene Piasecki, and many others.
The following article was posted by the Fayetteville Observer
The following article was posted by Stars and Stripes
Several Detachment(A) members attended the 5th Special Forces Group (ABN) Flash change ceremony at Fort Campbell Kentucky held on 23 March 2016. Jeff Raker is looking good. He said that if it wasn’t for his wife he would not be alive today. She saved his life.
Detachment(A) members present at the ceremony were:
Ballad of Green Beret Auf Deutsch
Aus den Wolken springt der Tod,
Zwoelf Green Berets im Morgenrot
Unterdrueckte zu befrein
Ziehn sie in den Kampf hinein.
Halten dort ein streng’s Gericht,
Fuerchten Tod und Teufel nicht.
Dschihadisten’s feige Brut
Zahlt den Preis mit ihrem Blut.
Wenn auch ein mancher faellt dabei,
Denn die Freiheit ist nicht frei,
In der Heimat warten schon
Die junge Witwe und ihr Sohn.
Eines Tag’s gewinnt auch er
Das Barrett, das Helden ehrt;
Denn wo das Sternenbanner fliegt
Steh’n Green Berets, stets unbesiegt.
Lyrics by Jeffrey H. Raker, CSM USA Special Forces (Ret)