21. September 2004 · Comments Off on Mission Accomplished – 1988 Version · Categories: Military

Dragon Lady’s mention of RAF Molesworth immediately reminded me of Florennes AB, Belgium, mainly because both of these bases were GLCM bases in the late 1980s.

GLCMs – Ground Launch Cruise Missiles. Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) that were placed in strategic locations and were intended to be used if the Soviet Union attacked our NATO allies. Many people resented the existence of these missiles, and I heard many stories about the protestors that lined the path to the gate at many bases, hurling epithets and bricks at the military personnel trying to get to work. I never experienced that for myself, because I was in a country and town that welcomed our presence, and because I got there towards the end of the entire GLCM affair.

In July 1987, I received my assignment to Belgium, with an April 1988 reporting date. In September or October, I sent a computer message to my future CBPO Chief and asked him if there was any way I could come over earlier, because there were rumors the base would close if the INF treaty were signed and ratified, and I really wanted a chance to experience Belgium. So my reporting date was accelerated to January 1988.

I’ll write more later, I’m sure, about that wonderful year long European vacation. They ratified the INF treaty shortly after I arrived, and after participating in only one exercise, we were burning the Ops Plans. With the placement of Personnel troops into the Orderly Rooms, I got to experience six months with a missile squadron, and was present for their deactivation ceremony.

But today, I just want to share one small piece of writing from those days.

Those days…. when the doomsday clock was actually moved backwards by 15 minutes after the treaty was signed.

Those days… when the determined cooperation of disparate groups resulted in people working themselves out of a job, and in service members, thinking they were almost arrived at their new European assignment, being met at the airport by someone who handed them a totally different set of orders, because the base they thought they were going to was no longer a functioning Air Force Base, thanks to the INF treaty.

Those days… when an entire team of assignment personnel would fly from AFMPC to Europe to meet with every member on the affected base, and personally discuss their future assignment options with them, and do everything they could to make sure that requested locations on “Dream Sheets” weren’t really dreams, but could become realities.

There are others, I’m sure, who can tell you more about the GLCM project, and how the bases were created, the strategic reasoning for their locations, and the experiences of being a GLCM warrior. Hopefully, we’ll hear from some of them.

But right now, I just want to share these few thoughts, as I wrote them back then. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared them with anyone — most of my friends were never in the military, and had no idea we had GLCM bases, or what a GLCM is. I did manage to share them with our Wing Commander, before he rotated back to the States for his retirement. He got the original copy, and my profound respect.

Mission Accomplished

The klaxon of freedom rings down through the ages.
The players may change, and also the stages,
but never the plot — today it’s the same,
of those who serve Liberty, without seeking fame.

Four years, and more, of the mud and the rain,
of doing our best — not for personal gain —
not for wealth, nor rewards
that our people could keep,
but so children all over the world safely sleep.

Four years, and more, of standing our ground,
of doing our best and not lounging around.
Weeks spent in the woods, regardless of weather,
with “A Flight” — all groups from base working together.

Four years, and more, and our goal is achieved.
The treaty is signed; Excalibur sheathed.
But don’t fear increased danger with your guardian gone,
the memories of GLCM will long carry on.

Because all who were here gave all of their best,
the world will remember Uncle Sam’s GLCM test.
They’ll say that the missiles accomplished it all,
but even missiles need people to answer their call.

“The mission comes first;” we know that it’s true.
But no mission could work without people like you.
Long days make long weeks, but we got the job done.
Our mission’s accomplished – war’s over — we won!

Comiso, Florennes, Greenham Common, and all,
you’ve proven our point ’cause you answered our call.
You did it all — in all conditions, to boot —
Our hat’s off to you, in a GLCM salute.

Dedicated to all the men and women everywhere who made up the GLCM Team

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