I'm experiencing a kind of virtual nostalgia this morning after seeing an article about Cold War tourism at the Fulda Gap. The Gap is the spot in West Germany where, from 1951 to the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces guarded the strategically important lowland corridor that runs between the Hohe Rhön and Knüllgebirge mountains and which was presumed to be the most likely route for an invasion by the Soviet Union.
I was never there. But in an odd way I feel like I was there, since back in my callow youth I was trained in how to call for artillery fire using a computerized training simulator - one that was awesomely state-of-the-art for the late 1970s, which means it had about 1/10 the capability of the first Atari video games that came out in the early 1980s - that placed the trainee in a virtual observation post overlooking the Gap. I got pretty familiar with the local terrain as I called down simulated barrages on simulated Red Army troops, tanks, and helicopters.
As I look at photos of that same terrain today, I keep hearing in my mind: "shot, over ... shot, out."