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  2nd Bn 48th Infantry  

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“Powell finished his first round of Army schooling and set out for the ‘real Army’ in January 1959. He was assigned to guard a section of the Fulda Gap in Germany at the focal point of what was expected to be the Soviets’ avenue of attack into Central Europe.

The East German border was less than fifty miles away. Assigned to Gelnhausen as a member of the tank heavy Third Armored Division, Powell’s team included infantrymen in armored personnel carriers. His first job was as a platoon leader with forty men, initially with Company B, Second Armored Rifle Battalion, 48th Infantry, known as ‘Bravo Company, Second of the Forty-Eighth.’

He later served with Company D in the same battalion where he was Company Executive Officer, the commander’s right–hand man. He also served as the company commander for a few months.

Through the bitter cold and biting wind of the winters of 1958–59 and 1959–60, Powell with a jeep and his troops, twelve to a vehicle, sat in M59 armored personnel carriers and looked eastward. They faced the men of the Eighth Guards Army, the vanguard of what was feared would be a massive sweep of Red Army forces.”

From the book, SACRED HONOR: A BIOGRAPHY OF COLIN POWELL by David Roth (San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco, 1993).  Page 48

“Powell’s first assignment—the second item in a military resumé that would
grow to thirty–four entries and include three continents, seven U.S. forts, the White House West Wing, and nearly every ring of the Pentagon—was as a platoon leader with Company B, Second Armored Rifle Battalion, Forty–Eighth Infantry, with the United States Army in Germany.

Powell arrived in October of 1958, four years and ten months after Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had first enunciated the policy of ‘instant, massive retaliation’ against a direct Soviet attack ‘at times and places of our own choosing’; almost two years after Soviet troops and tanks had rolled into Budapest and crushed the revolt there; and long after there was any real hope, except in the dreamiest diplomatic circles, that the two post–World War II superpowers could find any sort of meaningful common ground.

Powell was stationed for much of that time in Gelnhausen, near the border of the Hessen and Bavarian states, on the Kinzig River, less than fifty miles from the East German border, where—so military doctrine held—the ground war between East and West was most likely to begin.”

From the book, COLIN POWELL: A BIBLIOGRAPHY by Howard Means. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1992, 1993).  Pages 101-102

Link to Photo of Gen Powell as a 2nd LT

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Photo courtesy Wolfgang Scherp 3AD 1956 - 1960

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Street named for Gen Powell


Street before


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