Are the times right???

I was first in Italy in the summer of 1969, and I remember the tension then…

While there are some in the United States who believe we are headed toward another Civil War, there is perhaps another, more recent parallel worth exploring – the so-called “Italian Years of Lead.”

The short version is that in the late 1960s through the early 1980s, Italy was a hotbed of assassination, shoot-outs and bombings between various factions of the far-left, the far-right and the Italian government – with American, British and Soviet intelligence agencies often pulling the strings.

From, HERE.

And I was in and out of Italy from 1978 through 1986 with the US Navy… We were ‘always’ briefed to keep our presence low key, not to drive official vehicles off base, and were granted approval to have regular Italian tags on vehicles, rather than ‘official’ AFI plates. It was a touchy time, not just in Italy, but also in Greece and Germany. Reading this article sent shivers up the spine, remembering the crap that was going on, and I was glad I was down in Sicily, not up around Rome or further north.


Are the times right??? — 17 Comments

  1. I was stationed in Berlin during 1977 to 1980 and it was similar to your experiences and with the same briefing to us Army pukes.

  2. Were you there for this?

    Yeah, I’m not sure how interesting the times are getting. I’ve met a few that were laying in for times that appear to be coming to us. And they weren’t planning on being quiet or sweet…

    May God help the weak, and hold those that moved us to this poisition accountable. Quickly.

  3. My ‘in and out’ tenure at Sigonella was 1961. Our aircrew members were directed to wear suits and ties when going off base anywhere in Europe or North Africa but even with that requirement it was obvious that the locals could pick us out as U.S. servicemen pretty quick. Never had any trouble in town (except with each other) but I imagine that has changed now.

  4. Cederq- Sigh… yep

    StxAR- No, I wasn’t there, but I did know one of the RIOs that was in one of the F-14s that ‘escorted’ it to Sig… Touchy wasn’t the word for it. We had our ‘drill’ with the Italians during the raid on Libya. The Italians refused us access to the weapons area… Got pretty tense that day.

    Robert- Thankfully we never got that bad, but yes, we were always ‘easy’ to pick out!

  5. In the USCG at the time, the rules were simple and the senior enlisted folks would remind you of them before you left the ship.
    “You’re going ashore for liberty?”

    “Aye, Senior Chief.”

    “Great. Lose the boots, the giant belt buckle and the cowboy hat, first, Boats. If you’re driving, don’t let yourself get boxed in.”

    “Aye, Senior Chief.”

    People who think a second Civil War is inevitable frequently forget, or are too young to remember, the state of the world and the US during that time period. Regardless of the form something might take, there’s nothing good about Americans shooting at each other.

  6. You have a very good point. Given the way tensions are, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more attacks on government officials or opposing groups.
    The recent attacks on police, first in Dallas, most recently in NYC, and a few elsewhere, I think are foreshadows of what will come – as are some of the violent confrontations between Antifa, etc and Proud Boys, etc. So far these “interactions” have been limited to big cities, but at some point that will change, though I’m sure the majority of “problems” will remain there.

    • I haven’t followed Dallas or New York.

      Stuff I had previously followed looked restricted to big cities with Democrat mayors in states with Democrat Governors.

      Stage managed stuff with politicians putting their thumbs on the scales. Not stuff where one can motivate the activists to take the same risks elsewhere.

      What are the Dallas politics like, and does the situation look like political manipulation is involved?

      • I’m referring to the ambush shooting of 5 police in Dallas last year and the precinct shooting a few days ago in NYC.

        I’m not familiar with Dallas politics, but I’m sure there have been “issues” with the police there as there have been in most large cities.

  7. When I first started going to Europe in the early 1990s, we dressed British. No sneakers, earth-tone clothes, no tee-shirts with messages on them, a little dressier than US every day. Since Red Family look Anglo-Irish anyway, it worked quite well. The only real tell unless we spoke was my hair (long, not a look popular in Europe at the time) and our more open posture. Only once did I ever have trouble, and I literally talked my way out (attackers decided I was German, not American, apologized, and went after less wary prey.)

    Now? Same rules again, with the addition of avoiding large urban areas, and be ready to ease out of anywhere discreetly if things start looking interesting, or a large group of obviously foreign tourists shows up. (Just took Glasgow, Scotland off a possible list, for Reasons. London? Been off the list for a while, ditto Paris, Frankfurt . . .)

  8. Glasgow put the wind up me, on a day trip last spring. Too many overtones of despair, and a fine reek of unwashed homeless, and urine. Lots of brave culture center talk, since the industry and docks were ripped out.

    Remained quiet, dressed and bland and local as possible. Few second looks.

  9. When Hubby was stationed in Germany a few years ago, he had to wear civvies to and from work.

  10. When Hubby was stationed in Germany a few years ago, he had to wear civvies to and from work.

  11. RM- Good points all, thanks!

    Jonathan- Also good points.

    Bob- Dallas is Dem all the way now… sigh…

    TXRed- Easy for y’all to ‘cheat’, none of you have/had military haircuts… sigh

    PK- Ouch… I haven’t been in that part of the world in a while.

    JMI- Not surprised.

  12. I served in Italy, Greece and Spain in the early 70’s.
    Rarely wore a uniform unless going on base.
    Always had to get a haircut before doing that.
    Friends driving through communist rallies on the way to a site getting shoved around in their vehicles.
    Worked with an Italian-American engineer who had a contract out on him, so we kept a low profile.

  13. Hanau, Germany 64-66 we seldom had problems with Germans. There was a group we called “werewolves” that like to catch a GI on his own. We had far more racial problems.

    As to the werewolves, they were stupid. Picking a fight with a soldier, particularly one in a combat arms unit, was a high risk game.

  14. Hey Old NFO;

    I remember living in the 70’s in Germany and the “REd Army Brigade” and the “Baader Meinhof gang were blowing stuff up in Germany, my Dad was at the IG Farbin building when they bombed it again and he remembered feeling the vibration and commented “You gotta be shitting me”, so as they were leaving, he told the people he was with, “We go this way, not out the front.” and they asked why and he responded “This place got bombed before and I betcha the assholes got another bomb waiting to get the people after they leave the building.” and they did have one planted. I also remember my SAEDA briefings while I was in Germany as a GI in the 80’s. The communist gangs were still active, and we were warned not to go clubbing by ourselves and the license plates on the vehicles went from green to white to better blend in with the locals. The terror stuff were settling down toward the end of the 1980’s we would just avoid certain areas in the cities where the idiots like to congregate. Berlin had a large communist/socialist areas and we were surprised because we were deep in East Germany, but the youngsters bought into the bullshit the commies would spread, the only old people that were involved were either the handlers or the hard core.

  15. Hi Jim, just came across this post. Been incapacitated for the last three weeks.I was stationed in Bella Napoli from 12/59 till 12/63, And we were told to never wear your uniform whenever you went ashore. So civs were required. I was second wrench on Cat Browns R4Y-5Z. He was the head man of the Armed Forces in Southern Europe. Unless we were landing at a Nato base, civvies were de-reguire before setting foot on the Air Stairs There were a lot of places that we were prohibited from entering, buildings as well as certain sections of the city. I had a little house out on Liquila on the beach off the road to Rome. Loved every minute I was there and became great friends with lots of the peon locals. It was easy to get away from the riots etc. because most of us had English Triumph motorcycles of the 600-750 HP engines.