By Associated Press
BERLIN. -- In the dead of night, lights flashed on and the Star Spangled Banner boomed out. Several thousand Soviet soldiers bolted awake in their barracks nearby.
It was 1:20 a.m. and one of the most unusual flag - raising ceremonies in the postwar history of the United States military in Europe was taking place at Potsdam in Communist East Germany.
An Army lieutenant colonel, a Marine major, an Air Force major, an Army sergeant and an airman made up the detail that hoisted the Stars and Stripes in the face of Communist hostility.
The group was surrounded by debris left in the wake of a howling mob of 300 diehard East German Reds, who seven hours earlier had invaded the mission building and smashed everything in sight.
Lying in piles of shattered window glass was a broken 25-foot flag pole, from which the Communists had torn and desecrated the American flag by painting anti-American slogans on it.
Now there was a new, although smaller pole. Airman First Class Thomas Voss, 22, of Milan, Ind., attached a new Flag to the lines and was getting ready to hoist it.
The scene was illuminated brightly. Below the pole was a tape recorder and two big loudspeakers.
The men snapped to attention, raised their hands in salute and the Stars and Stripes rose slowly while the notes of the Star Spangled Banner soared into the night. They were loud enough to awaken troops of the Soviet 34th Artillery Division in their barracks about half a mile away.
The ceremony has not been announced officially. Information about it has been gathered from a number of sources.
The honor of hoisting the Flag fell to Airman Voss for a special reason. The young American was the only American in the building when the Reds attacked. The other men were on various assignments.
When the mob broke in, Airman Voss retreated to the third floor and locked himself into a cage of steel bars, built for such an eventuality.
From his cage, Airman Voss watched helplessly as the Reds tore the Flag. But the airman did get a lick in.
One East German Communist had climbed from the second floor balcony 15 feet up to the third floor. Airman Voss rushed at the East German and gave him a push. The Communist fell 15 feet down to a balcony.
The flag-raising was ordered by Col. Paul Skowronek of Pittsburgh, Pa., chief of the mission.
"We are proud of our American friends that they reacted so quickly to let the Communists know that no matter what they do, they can't get the Americans down," commented an officer of the British Military Mission [BRIXMIS].
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