A few recollections of my time (1978-1979) as a Det-A wife
by Marie von Haas
The women who were in West Berlin with the men of Det-A were integral to the mission of the Det. We were almost always a welcome sight when an assignment allowed them to return “home.” Where was home? Wives and children offered a bit of normalcy to their lives. Also, we were great at keeping secrets. Actually, that wasn’t difficult to do because we didn’t know much about what our guys were doing.
We lived in government quarters like all other Americans assigned to West Berlin, an island of freedom surrounded by communism. But our husbands were not like other Americans. I had a neighbor who lived upstairs from us who thought that Bruno was a “German Interpreter.” This was believable since she never saw him in official military attire. Bruno looked like a German, he smelled like a German, and he spoke like a German.
Living in West Berlin meant that we could go to the Post Exchange and Commissary like all other Americans. We could also visit and spend our money in the local German shops. We could drive our own automobiles around West Berlin, or we could ride the U-bahn.
I recall the many shopping sprees into East Berlin. In order to pass through Checkpoint Charlie, we had to make sure to get permission from the proper authorities. Our automobiles were also properly registered to pass through the frontier. God help us if we didn’t return after a day of shopping. On one spree I met Bruno in East Berlin. I left him there to return in the same way that he got there.
As Bruno’s wife I was also a member of the Officer’s Wives Club. I remember playing bridge with Amika Olchovik and other officer’s wives regularly.
A few of us, women of Det-A, played volleyball against other American women. I don’t recall having a team name. The champion team at that time was made up of Army women. They were in much better shape and practiced more than we did. We practiced whenever our coaches were in town. I recall Steve Santoya and Frank Closen yelling at us to “jump higher” to spike the ball. Their idea of volleyball I think was called “Jungle Volleyball.” Our children were often our cheerleaders.
Back left corner: Rich Herpers Right corner: Frank Closen
Back l-r: Steve Santoya, Stewart O’Neill, Ron Braughton, Frank Wallace, Bruno von Haas, Jimmy Reeves, Candy Santoya, Becky Closen, Marie von Haas, Mrs. Wallace, Bilha Herpers
Below left: Mrs. Braughton Below right: Mrs. Reeves circa 1978-79
Back row l-r: Johnnie Moore, Barb Moore, Mrs. Reeves, Jimmy Reeves, Ron Braughton, Frank Closen, Becky Closen
Front row l-r: Rich Herpers, Bilha Herpers, Marie von Haas, Bruno von Haas, Steve Santoya, Candy Santoya, Robbie Robinson, Mrs. Braughton
Far left: John Liner, unknown woman circa 1978-79
Around the table l-r: Holly Closen, Becky Closen, Heather Closen, Frank Closen, Bruno von Haas, Marie von Haas, Ron Braughton, Mrs. Braughton, Candy Santoya, (back of Steve Santoya head) circa 1979
In our spare time we created a cookbook. The women and men of Det-A shared their culinary talents by publishing “Detachment Delights” (1979). It contains 142 recipes.
I have submitted a copy to Bob Charest for the Det-A website and click on the pot below to view the cookbook.
DETACHMENT DELIGHTS Recipe Book
Det “A” Berlin 1979
Adams, Mrs. Shirley
Lemke, Mai Thi
0 lchovik, Amika
Olchovik, Stanley LTC
von Haas, Marie (Cover Design)
The women and men of Det-A shared their culinary talents
by publishing a cookbook (1979). It contains 142 recipes.
About the Author
The author, Marie von Haas, has been married to Bruno for 52 years. She is presently completing her PhD in History at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
1975-1978 Bruno served with the 10th SF Group (Abn), Bad Tölz, Germany before becoming commander of Team 6, S.F. Detachment “A” Berlin, Germany at LTC Stanley Olchovik’s request. He took the place of Lt. Powell in 1978.
With sadness we left Germany in December 1979 so that Bruno could fulfill his Infantry Officer obligation, IOAC, at Ft. Benning, Georgia.