Christopher “Chris” Rector remembers his time in Germany very well.
An Army veteran, Rector served in West Germany from 1983 to 1985 and is currently the associate fire resources coordinator for the Tennessee Division of Forestry.
After joining the Army, Rector was assigned to 56th Field Artillery Brigade in Neu-Ulm, West Germany, which was home of the Perishing II Nuclear Missile and firing units, according to Rector.
Rector’s job assignment upon joining the Army was to be a cook, which he said wasn’t his first choice. Being a cook, however, was the only sure way that he would be assigned in Germany, which Rector noted was a “fascinating” experience.
At 19 years old, Rector worked at the Spandau Prison in Berlin, Germany. The Spandau Prison, which was used for other purposes before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), incarcerated Nazi officials. The last Nazi prisoner held at Spandau Prison was Rudolf Hess, deputy to Adolf Hitler and Rector slept a few doors down from the infirmary room holding Hess.
Rector said his time in Berlin was one of his most memorable.
"The thirty days, I spent at Spandau Prison in Berlin was a great experience and actually seeing the wall in person rather than hearing about it,” Rector said.
Rector said after spending time with Hess, a genuine Nazi, he has realized that any Nazi-affiliated groups today are “splinter groups” incapable of influence like Hitler. They are looking for attention but their voice should not be limited, according to Rector.
“I don’t agree with the Nazi theory, but I do believe they have a right to speak just as anyone else,” Rector said.
Because of his time in the military, Rector suffers severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). After dealing with both PTSD and TBI, Rector began to realize his need for help.
“After going through many treatments and two suicide attempts, I needed to try something different in a huge way,” Rector said.
In order to help Rector cope with his disability, Rector visits a mental health doctor at the Veterans Affairs office in Knoxville, which he said has helped his condition immensely. One of his doctor’s suggestions was for Rector to keep a journal.
Taking this idea and letting it spiral, Rector decided, instead, to write a book that was focused on an individual in the Cold War setting. Rector’s book is entitled “A Cook’s Tale” and can be found for sale on Amazon.
“I hope to start selling enough to where I can donate part of the sales to a Veterans PTSD project/program,” Rector said.
Darren Bailey, district forester at the Tennessee Division of Forestry, said he has enjoyed the way Rector tells his story and looks forward to hearing more when he reads “A Cook's Tale.”
"I have had the opportunity to hear some of the stories of Chris’s past experiences while in the military and have been intrigued,” Bailey said. “I look forward to reading his book.”
Bailey said Rector's past military training has helped him in his position at the Tennessee Division of Forestry and given him the tools to succeed during different tasks.
Rector hopes his personal experiences help others, such as Bailey. He said he has seen a shift in political climate over his lifetime and believed the activeness of the current political climate is “a good thing.”