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Former JROTC instructor returns to campus to talk about his Berlin Wall experience

Student examines a map

Books from the time

Various sources of CW4 U.S. Army William Inman's memories of Berlin

The Artifacts

A piece of the Berlin Wall with a cross made of rebar is one of William Inman's favorite souvenirs of his time in Berlin.

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William Inman speaking with middle school students Kobe Bell, Braden Fulton, Deshay Baird, Haiden Daniels, and Kaitlin Carroll. 

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William Inman answering students' questions about Berlin and his experiences there.

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Middle School students Miranda Meredith, Austin Pitman, Faith Flynn, Nathaniel Stokes, Nathan Smith, Alex Rose, Chris Adkins, and Gyson Rains listen intently to William Inman's presentation.

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Chief Inman shared a power point presentation

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Students examine a piece of the Berlin Wall. L-R; Faith Flynn and Marianne Jones

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David Wallace checks out a piece of the Berlin Wall

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Inman speaking to students

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Haiden Daniels examines air maps of the Berlin Wall while Wesley Jones (right) looks at an informational book about Berlin

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Ashley Villa and Kaylee Scalf

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Mosey Burnett holds the picture of the Russian heliciopter that patrolled the Berlin Wall next to Mr. Inman everyday. Chief Inman took the picture in flight one day.

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L-R; Nathaniel Stokes, Nathan Smith, Alex Rose, Chris Atkins are enthralled by the picture and resources Chief Inman brought to class.

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WCMS students Kaylee Scalf, Wesley Ramirez, Kyria Lovejoy, and Jericka Flynn examine an air map of Berlin.

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Mr. inman explains the significance of a photograph to Braden Fulton

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William Inman speaking to students

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Mr. Inman shows the students his book about the Berlin airlift signed by Col. Gail Halvorson (the Candy Bomber).

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Nathan Smith examines a picture of Mr. Inman and his fellow servicemen along side some of the Chicago Bears who played an exhibition game in Berlin.

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Chief Inman holds the book Candy Bomber: The Berlin Airlifts "Chocolate Pilot" that began the Soviet occupation of Berlin while WCMS Teacher Leah Turner holds a piece of the Berlin Wall that signified the end of the occupation in Berlin

Wayne County Middle School Language Arts classes learn about the Berlin Wall from a first person source

                It is not often a student gets to actually feel history. However, that has been the case, as history has been overlapping into a language arts class at the Wayne County Middle School this school year. In the wake of Leah Turner’s students reading The Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot”, they experienced wonderful email exchanges with the 97-year-young veteran who was the hero of the book. That exchange was followed by another interesting classroom event in the seventh grade reading class. 

                The icing on the cake for the students was a visit from a former Wayne County JROTC Army instructor. Retired CW4 William Inman traveled from Nashville to provide the middle school students with an informative presentation on the Berlin Wall. He shared his first-hand account from the five-and-a-half years he was stationed overseas in West Germany in the 1980’s.

                Turner told the students, “Mr Inman got to fly along the Berlin Wall and see history in the making. We’ve read about it, but he’s seen it.”

                “The book you read was about the Berlin Airlift where they dropped candy in 1948. I came into the picture years later in 1984 after the wall was built,” said Inman. He explained that in 1961 the Soviet soldiers began to divide the city.

                “How would you feel if troops came in and strung barbed wire between you and your relatives living in the same town?” Inman asked the students.

                “That is what happened in Berlin and the wall stood for almost 29 years. You might have been 10-years-old and you didn’t see your relatives again until you were 38-years-old…It was a sad situation.”

                The Soviets turned the water and electric off and the people were frozen in the city of Berlin on the east side. The wall was built because 2,000 people a day had been defecting to the West from East Germany. The French, Americans and British brought in coal, meat and milk to the citizens in relief supplies. It was not until 1989 that the wall started to crumble.

                “This is awesome,” said Wesley Jones. “It teaches us past history. Not many people get to see a piece from the Berlin Wall.”

                The teacher was thrilled to see the reaction from her students who were in awe of the rock Chief Inman pulled out of his case which was in fact a piece of the Berlin Wall.  

                History truly did come alive as Chief Inman shared his unique experience as a helicopter pilot flying missions overseas along the Berlin Wall, mirrored by ‘the bad guys’, the Soviets flying along the wall on the other side. “We were watching each other. I didn’t have any weapons on my helicopter,” said Inman. But, he took each mission very seriously because “there was a (threatening) red star on their helicopter, so we made sure there wasn’t any monkey business going on.”

 The students were captivated by learning more about the Berlin Wall and actually seeing a souvenir piece of the wall that Chief Inman brought along with photos, books and other memorabilia.

                He explained that there were 79 miles of fencing with 45,000 three-ton concrete sections 12 feet tall all along it, not to mention all kinds of wire barriers with land mines. Guard towers manned with four guards shined big mercury vapor lights along the wall at night and anyone trying to climb the wall to the other side was shot. The top of the wall was cylindrical shaped making it hard for a person to grab and get a handhold.

                Inman recalled that some people were able to get across it, but it was difficult. Some tunneled under the wall, but during the rainy season, those areas were at risk because the top layer of sandy soil would cave in. He said two families escaped in a hot air balloon at night. He explained that the cloth was stitched together to create the balloon, but their first attempt was lost because helium escaped from a hole in the fabric.

                “I was there when the wall came down,” recalled Inman. “People went crazy and were dancing in the streets. They were on top of cars singing and dancing. There was also a lot of tears and crying as people were reunited…I saw two ladies hugging and crying who played together as children, but had not seen each other for 29 years.”

                Chief Inman shared his historical flight taking the head general across the wall on the first mission flown after the wall came down.

                “We saw a lot of history being made while there,” said Inman. “My sons are so glad they witnessed it as teenagers and I can tell my grandchildren about it.”

                Chief Inman told the spellbound students that he knew this was hard for them to understand, but he is afraid it is happening again in our world. “You are very fortunate to live in the United States!”

                The pilot, who was also stationed at West Point (the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States), recalled that he never dreamed four years after leaving Germany, he would be teaching JROTC at Wayne County Schools beginning in 1993 for a 21-year stretch. Fortunately, for Wayne County students, Chief Inman left his mark locally, sharing his experience with a generation of cadets.

                He highly recommended the JROTC program to the seventh graders telling them it teaches integrity and how to do the right thing. “It helps you grow up.”

                He could not help mentioning all of his cadets that became doctors, lawyers, an architect, Ph.D.’s, a vet, and lots of nurses – not to mention those that joined the military in his footsteps. “There are so many success stories from JROTC,” he proudly grinned. 

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