6-40th rail loads tanks, prepares for inactivation

Personnel is not the only area that's feeling a crunch as the Army continues its reduction of forces. This downsizing has also created an impact on equipment. With the inactivation of the 6th Battalion, 40th Armor, the last of the U.S. tanks left the city Thursday. The departure signified the end of America's undertaking to protect the city of Berlin. "The tanks were a significant portion of the combat power of the Berlin Brigade," said Lt . Col. William Betson, commanding officer, 6-40th Armor. "The unit was the most visible symbol of America's commitment to defend the city". The unit, a mixed or combined arms task force that includes a company each of engineers, artillery, and anti-tank missile launchers, has been in existence for 34 years

During the harshest days of the Cold War, these same tanks outbraved the Soviets at Checkpoint Charlie. Ironically enough, within the last 10 days two Russian units have rail loaded from the same tracks at Teltow as did the 6-40th Armor Wednesday and Thursday. This was the first time the unit has rail loaded from the former East Germany. “I don’t think there’s a need for Armor in Berlin anymore,” said Pfc. Christopher Barnett, 6-40th Armor. The tanks leaving shows that we can work together to reduce forces and Berlin is the best starting place for that. This unit is a good unit and I felt real proud driving the tank through the former East Germany.”

Staff Sgt. Larry Muniz, the commander’s gunner, and lead tanker echoed Barnett’s feelings about driving through the East. “Being the first one to drive into the former eastern part of Germany gave me a very good feeling, he said. Especially since this was the first time American tanks had gone into East Germany in 45 years.” Lt. Col Betson had mixed feelings about the egress of the tanks. “I’m proud of the fact that the 40th armor contributed to the significant portion of the victory in the Cold War, but I’m sad to see an Armor company leaving a city that has treated it so well,” he said. A guarded detail accompanied the tanks to Bremerhaven for shipment to the U.S. where they will be handed over to another unit.


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