Borne the Battle Episode 253_Army Veteran James Stejskal

Army Veteran James Stejskal spent nine years in West Berlin during the Cold War, serving in a clandestine and small special forces unit known as Detachment A. His mission bordered on the impossible, tasked with being ready to cross into East Germany and sabotage the Soviet army at a moment’s notice in case the Soviet Union ever decided to launch an invasion.

He spent 23 years in service with special forces and 13 years operating under the CIA. Stejskal lived a life brimming with unique experiences. A few of the stories he shared on this episode of Borne the Battle include how he:

  • Fought to get a role in the Army Special Forces after initially serving with the 82nd Airborne Division.
  • Was prepared to blow up Soviet trains and destroy Soviet railway networks if West Berlin was invaded.
  • Nearly had to amputate his leg after being in a vehicle that rolled over an old Soviet tank mine, but had it saved by an orthopedic surgeon with an ingenious idea.

For nearly half a century, information pertaining to Detachment A remained classified and hidden from the public eye. The government only declassified information about this unit in 2014. With a story virtually absent from the history books, Stejskal is determined to keep Detachment A’s legacy from being forgotten.

One of Stejskal’s most notable books on Detachment A is “Special Forces Berlin.”

He talks about the book in great depth in the C-Span video below.

Though Stejskal is a professional historian, he also enjoys writing fiction. Adept at writing in a variety of styles, Stejskal has written a diverse selection of books, ranging from historical fiction to professionally researched historical narratives.

For decades, Stejskal had to keep his lips sealed about Detachment A because it was classified information. Now with it declassified, he wants everyone to know its story. Hear what Stejskal could not talk about for years by listening to this episode of Borne the Battle.


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Calvin Wong is an intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. He studies History as an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.


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One Comment

  1. Michael Dawson August 25, 2021 at 11:47 pm

    MacV SOG is still hidden. We are still being told we are crazy there was never a unit like that.

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