Written by: C/CPT Lennon Spakousky and LTC (Ret) Jon A. Ring
CHECKPOINT ALPHA, HESSEN, GERMANY — The Wiesbaden High School Warrior Battalion traveled to Point Alpha near Fulda, Germany to participate in the annual commemoration of the “Last Patrol” conducted as the Cold War wrapped up 33 years ago. Five Warrior Battalion cadets performed the changing of flag ceremony on March 17th, 2023 in honor of those who served on Freedom’s Frontier from the conclusion of WWII to 1990. More than 200 people attended the ceremony with many political and military leaders present to celebrate another anniversary of Black Horse’s last patrol.
Two worlds made up Europe during The Cold War. The Iron Curtain, dubbed so by Winston Churchill in 1946, served as the border line between these two worlds of the European continent. Soviet-controlled communist countries lay to the east, in stark contrast with the western NATO states. Checkpoint Alpha is located on the eastern border of the German state of Hesse and existed right on the border with East and West Germany. Point Alpha’s importance became more apparent as tensions grew between the United States and Communist Russia. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment was then stationed at the gap in response to these tensions, dubbed the Black Horse because of their distinctive black horse patch.
The Warrior Battalion conducted a changing flag and color guard ceremony in honor of the “Last Patrol’s” 33rd anniversary. An American flag is flown at all times throughout the year in honor of those who served. Every year, The old and battered flag is replaced with a new flag to fly year round and symbolizes the reinvigoration and constant drive to protect freedom everywhere.
This year’s flag detail was composed of cadets David Matz, Brian LeMauk, Trennan Henriquez, Ryan Moore, and Lennon Spakousky who lowered and folded the old flag. The Flag Detail team then moved to the nearby auditorium to lead off the proceeding with a posting of the colors.
The Point Alpha auditorium saw many important figures speak to over 200 German and American citizens. The Consulate General of the United States, Norman Thatcher Sharpf, spoke some well-chosen words at the ceremony. He urged that we continue to keep our alliance with Germany strong as we assist Ukraine against its ongoing battle with Russia. “The United States and her allies will always stand by what is right, fighting for justice in this long war.” Sharpf stressed the solidarity that must be preserved in times of strife and oppression, compelling those present to resist what is unjust and to continue helping Ukraine fight the fight.
If you look for an example of the German and American Alliance, look no further than the story of retired 11th ACR soldier Marc Iroff and Chief Inspector Erwin Ritter. They worked together during The Cold War as envoys between Checkpoint Alpha and the German Government. The two became lifelong friends as they experienced the war together. Both attended the ceremony on March 17th and reminisced about the experiences and their lives along the Iron Curtain.
“Point Alpha continues to hold a special place in my heart,” said Brigadier General Jed J. Schaertl, “ it was in the casernes and training areas surrounding Fulda where I learned how to be an Army officer, but for many years before me, it was the members of the Black Horse that faced the threat to the east and maintained Europe and the inner German border.”
The Warrior Battalion is grateful to have been invited to this event and we are proud to play a role in honoring the history of our nation. We commend the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and cheer on Ukraine in its continued fight against Russia. Warriors Lead The Way!
Top photo caption: Warrior Cadets raise new flag at Point Alpha 2023 (Photo Credit: LTC (Ret.) Jon Ring)