The Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union was at its coldest during the 1960's. Nowhere was that more evident than in divided Germany. In mid-August, 1961, approximately 1,500 Western troops entered Berlin to reinforce the garrison there. East Berlin authorities countered on October 26 by demanding that all civilians entering Berlin show identity papers (previously they had had unrestricted access through the Eastern Sector). Soviet and American tanks moved briefly to the Friedrichstrasse crossing point, but were withdrawn a few days later. This did not end hostilities and America mobilized two National Guard divisions, one from Texas and the other from Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's 32nd Infantry — The Red Arrow Division — was again on the move. One hundred twenty soldiers of Troop B, 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, 105th Armor, most from the Reedsburg area, prepared to leave for Ft- Lewis, Washington, for active duty.
The call-up disrupted the lives of many area families, as fathers and sons once again bid goodby to their loved ones and headed off to an uncertain future. Farms were sold, marriage plans postponed or hurriedly arranged, and for some, lives were put on hold.
Life magazine, in its November 3, 1961 issue, profiled our city as Troop B packed up and prepared to leave. A farewell parade down Main Street brought out Reedsburg's citizens as the Life photographer recorded the event for posterity.
Schools and businesses were closed from 9 to 11 a.m. on Oct.25th as the community turned out to say goodby. The next day's issue of the Times-Press noted that "Faces of parents and other older adults recalled memories of men who departed for duty during past wars. Expressions of innocence and bewilderment covered the faces of the youngsters not fully aware of the true impact of the event."
The parade was led by a color guard of former veterans and guardsmen bearing rifles, followed by V.F.W. and Legion members. Half of the Reedsburg High School Band preceded the soldiers and the other half followed, with flag bearers flanking the guardsmen. Boy and Girl Scout troops, along with firemen, brought up the rear.
"When Troop B marched off for the depot to the spirited martial cadences of the Webb High School band playing Americans We, all the smiles dissolved into tears of farewell poignantly remembered from other wars," read one photo caption in Life. "Then the men were gone, leaving a community soberly aware that patriotism, now as always, can mean a great deal more than paying taxes."
As the next 12 months passed, hostilities cooled in Europe; the show of force having accomplished its goals, American troops returned home, Reedsburg's Troop B among them.
Another parade, in August, 1962 — this time on a happier occasion — welcomed the guardsmen back. Mayor H.S. Kleeber said, in a speech for the occasion, "We can feel proud that the citizen soldiers accomplished what they set out to do, and we can thank God for their safe return. We welcome them back to their community, families and jobs."
Troop B was the recipient of numerous accolades, including "having had more time in the field with an outstanding record in every operation, than any other 32nd division unit." They had reached a state of high readiness "through rigorous training and combat exercises" in only three months, an accomplishment heretofore unknown.
As part of the welcome home ceremony, Old Glory was lowered during a military ceremony, and the men were released from active duty. Afterwards, a party was held at the armory for guardsmen, their friends and families.