If you've seen what lies beyond this gate, then we can be pals.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours.
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.

~Shakespeare, King Henry V

The Fulda Gap is an area between the Hesse-Thuringian border and Frankfurt am Main in Germany.  The terrain of the Fulda Gap is neither particularly flat nor broad.  It is, however, suitable for the advance of mechanized forces on a large enough scale to present a significant threat to U.S. forces in the context of the Cold War.  The Fulda area is one of only two corridors of lowlands through which Warsaw Pact armor is able to pass in a surprise attack by the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies.  

As the defense of the Fulda Gap terrain feature came to be seen as a key battle location of World War III, so soared the standards and performance of the U.S. Army units assigned to defend it.  We trained constantly, spending seven months of every year at Grafenwohr, Hammelburg, Hoenfels, and other Bavarian training areas.  Of the U.S. Army’s forces in Germany, the Third Armored Division (SPEARHEAD) had been chosen to defend this path of attack from East Germany to the Rhine River.  A successful advance by the Soviets to the Rhine River via the Fulda Gap would have essentially split American forces in Europe into two parts.

For forty-five years, the U.S. Army Third Armored Division (SPEARHEAD) was Americas choice to defend the Fulda Gap.  Our assigned mission, should World War III break out, was to hold the Fulda Gap at all costs; to buy the time for Allied reinforcements to mobilize and arrive.  Whomever held Fulda would most likely be the victor in the battle for Europe.  Military analysts estimated that should World War III kick off, it would take at least 48 hours for American stateside forces and European NATO forces to mobilize and arrive.  The Third Armored Division was Americas largest heavy armored division, consisting of a combined task force of Artillery, Armor, Infantry, and Combat Aviation units all training and fighting together in concert; yet we were out numbered by Wasaw Pact forces 10 to 1.  In the event that reinforcements could not be mobilized and arrive within 48 hours, our unspoken mission was to "die in place" defending Fulda if necessary.  There was no retreat from Fulda.

In December 1989, the Third Armored Division received a new mission.  On New Years Day, 1990, the main body of the Third Armored Division departed Frankfurt Germany to Saudi Arabia on Air Force C-141 "Starlifters" and C-5 "Galaxy" aircraft with two missions:  To defend the Country of Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Shield, and to liberate the Country of Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. In 100 hours, the Third Armored Division and other American and allied forces defeated the best war fighters Sadaam Hussein had to offer.   Tactics used by the Third Armored Division at the Battle of 73 Easting, the Battle of Medina Ridge, and the Battle of Norfolk are still taught in the U.S. Armor School at Fort Benning today.

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