Special Forces Association Convention 2022 (SFACON 2022)
The Special Forces Association Convention 2022 (SFACON 2022) celebrated the 70th anniversary of Army Special Forces (SF). The distinguished visitor committee (seminar team) selected topics to highlight SF’s tactical, operational, and strategic activities. SFACON 2022’s symposia took place at the Antlers Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs between September 21-24, 2022.
SFACON 2022’s De Oppresso Liber Symposium Series included nine seminars: The Original Mike Force (Vietnam 1965 / Operational-Tactical vignette), Task Force Dagger (Afghanistan 2001 / Operational vignette), Task Force Viking (N. Iraq 2003 / Operational vignette), El Salvador (1980s / Strategic vignette), Shok Valley (Afghanistan 2008 / Tactical vignette), FOB Ghazni (Afghanistan 2013 / Tactical vignette), The Originals Panel (1952-53 Strategic vignette), Det-A / SF Berlin (1956-1990 Strategic vignette), and 1st SF Command (current day).
Topic: Det-A / SF Berlin (ca 1956-1984 / 1984-1990)
Date of presentation: September 24, 2022 from 0900-1015 MT via Zoom
Presenter: MSG (Ret) Robert Charest. He served two tours with Det-A and hosts the Det-A website.
Summary: In 1990, the Special Forces cased its final unit colors in Berlin, bringing to close 34 years of clandestine Cold War activities. Former Det-A veteran MSG (Ret) Robert Charest reviews the various phases of this one-of-a-kind unit with a truly elegant mission. He describes the Berlin based 39th Special Forces Detachment Alpha – Berlin, aka Det-A’s 1956-early 1970s Unconventional Warfare design, the addition of its Counterterrorism mission, and the 1984 transition to the 410th SF Physical Security Support Element – Berlin, aka PSSE-B. LTC (Ret) Mitch Utterback joins the session to describe PSSE-B.
Here is a video tribute to some of the original Detachment “A” members.
Former Detachment “A” member Georg Moskaluk created and produced this video while on assignment in Afghanistan.
Georg Moskaluk, was a former Detachment “A” member having served in Berlin. He also served as the Command Sergeant Major of the 10th Special Forces Group (A). Additionally, Georg served in the 5th Special Forces Group (A), 6th Special Forces Group (A), and MACV SOG.
This video production contains material in whole from audio and video materials supplied by (GMVP) Georg Moskaluk Video Production, and is protected by copyright and trademark laws. No material (including but not limited to the text, images, audio and/or video) can be reproduced for profit.
Non-profit duplication and exhibition is permitted. Modification of this video production or use of the materials for any other purpose is a violation of GMVP, and other sources’ copyright, trademark and other proprietary rights.
Special Forces Association Chapter 363, hosted a speaking engagement at the Poinsett Club in Greenville SC on 19 July 2022. Guest Speakers were Major General Jim Guest and MSG Bob Charest. Chapter President Todd Carpenter officiated the event.
A special honor was bestowed on Bob Charest, former member of Detachment “A” and MACV/SOG, as he was presented the Silver Star by Major General James Guest, 55 years after his actions in September of 1967.
Written by Chris Feudo former member of Detachment “A”
‘These are the men of the Green Beret, and more so, men of Detachment A These are men, America’s best – the epitome of the American fighting man 100 Strong they stood and glared, deep within Cold War Berlin Ready to fight to defend against, the awaited threated Red Menace’
These are the men of Detachment A, one of the top six covert units in the USA They spoke and looked like any of their foes, with however, The training and weapons more lethal than all Involved with some of the most sensitive actions of the cold war
They did things that others would never do Could never do, mentally, emotionally or physically They did things that men could dream only of Things that require a commitment found nowhere else
These were exceptional men, bred from warriors’ blood Men of integrity, of honor and truth, duty bound Masters of their profession, full trust and confidence of their Brothers in Arms Theirs is more than a job or an occupation, it is the very way of life
They have been awake in Berlin, clandestine and known, since 1956 Never exceeding 100, but targeted by 10,000 and the Stasi alike For they thought that we were thousands, instead of the robust force multiplier 100 Deactivated in ‘84, the 39th Special Forces’, covert name Detachment A, its colors retired
Their missions, always classified, still remain unknown and absent from historical annals Many have survived, others have passed on, with names inscribed at Arlington On the black granite walls at the Vietnam Memorial, or local cemeteries, most important They will be remembered within our very essence
They will always be alive within our heart and soul, forever cherished as human cohort Their memories, their feats, their friendships, and their very legacy will forever not be lost They have sacrificed all in their service to our beloved country, For Freedom is NEVER Free
Must be fought for, protected, and then handed on to the next generation to do the same
‘These are the men of the Green Beret, and more so, men of Detachment A These are men, America’s best – the epitome of the American fighting man 100 Strong they stood and glared, deep within Cold War Berlin Ready to fight to defend against the awaited threated Red Menace’
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.
In September 1969, Bob Charest arrived in Cold War Berlin and reported to Detachment-A, a classified and clandestine US Army Special Forces unit that didn’t officially exist.
The senior communications sergeant would spend nearly all of the 1970s operating undercover and awaiting activation. Charest, a veteran of cross-border operations with MACV-SOG who spoke both German and Russian, understood the stakes at play. If Russia, one of the four divisional powers in Germany, launched an invasion to overtake all of Berlin, Charest and other Detachment-A members would activate and conduct “stay-behind” sabotage missions against strategic infrastructure and vital targets. Without an escape and evasion plan, the team hoped to stall Soviet advances long enough until NATO reinforcements arrived.
On 22 October 2014, Major(Ret) Hermann Adler was inducted into the Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment at a small private ceremony held at his home. LTG Charles T. Cleveland, former Commanding General, US Army Special Operations and his staff performed the ceremony with LTG Cleveland performing the induction.