It was the early 1970s at Andrews Barracks in Berlin. A stern-looking Special Forces Sergeant Major paced down the hallway for roll call. Daily Army accountability formations are normally held outside, but due to the extremely classified nature of the mission carried out by the Special Forces soldiers standing in the hall that day, roll call had to be done indoors where they would not be spied on or photographed by enemy agents.

“It is the anniversary of the D-Day landing,” the Sergeant Major told the Green Berets. “Who here participated in D-Day and would like to go to the reunion in France?”

A large number of men in the hallway had served in Special Forces units in Vietnam, such as MACV-SOG and Project Sigma, but only a handful of men there that day had participated in D-Day. There were some Johns, Dicks, or Harrys who raised their hand. Then the Sergeant Major doing roll call got to the last soldier raising his hand and began to write down the name Gerhard Kunert. His pencil suddenly stopped scrawling across the clipboard.

“Wait a minute. Kunert? You were not even in the American Army in 1944!”

Kunert, a member of team six, clicked his heels and replied, “I was in the 7th Panzer. I was in Normandy, and I want to go to the reunion!” Kunert was not alone: Also on his team was a German who served on U-boats during the war.

The Lodge Act, named after Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, had allowed displaced persons from World War II — hailing from countries like Ukraine, Hungary, Germany, and Czechoslovakia — to join the United States Army. Many of them joined Special Forces and brought with them much-sought-after foreign language skills that were needed as the Cold War escalated. Some had served in the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis, others had fought in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and some had even been a part of the Finnish underground during the war.

“It was a fast track to [American] citizenship,” Colonel Warner “Rocky” Farr said. Bob Charest added, “You felt like you were in a foreign army.” The Lodge Act Green Berets could be identified by looking at their U.S. Army serial numbers, which all carried the same prefix at the beginning: 10812. “I bet at that time [1971] there were no more than 15 Americans in the unit,” Farr said, referring to native-born Americans as opposed to Lodge Act soldiers and naturalized citizens. Gradually, the unit did become more Americanized as the Cold War progressed and WWII veterans began to age.