I work in an IT department and one of my colleagues used to work in the British Amy's Signal Intelligence battalion in 1989/90 intercepting Soviet radio transmissions. Some of the things he told me were quite funny, such as the stereotype of Russians always being smashed on Vodka wasn't a stereotype, the soldiers and their superiors really were hammered a lot of the time, my colleague put this down to poor morale and boredom.
A couple of other things he told me were terrible, such as listening to the transmissions of the medics arriving at the scene where a soldier had accidentally fired his RPG whilst traveling with other soldiers in the back of a truck. Playing as the Germans paras on Crete in FH1 comes to mind.
The worst one was regarding the tanks; as the Soviets expected to cross many rivers in a western European war with NATO they fitted some of them with snorkels so they could traverse these rivers. As by that time a lot of the tanks were simply worn out and in one incident the water started leaking in but there was nothing anyone could do about it in time; my friend said he listened on the radio as the tank crew screamed for help but eventually drowned.
He said that although Westerners were terrified of the Soviet army it was only intelligence units like his that had the more accurate picture, one of drunkeness, poor morale and failing equipment.
When he was posted to the Gulf towards the end of Gulf War 1, he said the Americans were a good laugh and would want to swap anything including regiment badges and helmets. What surprised him the most was that they also wanted to swap rifles- he said any British soldier would have been hammered by his superiors for giving away his rifle!:lol:
i sorta have the same stories about the trading.
Back when i lived in Germany US soldiers would love to trade stuff, as you said even rifles , but my friend told them how he would get in jail for doing that, so he offered to trade helmets but THAT seemed to be holy to them so they didnt :) , i still got a US army jacked from ...gah i cant remember the exact bridage number , they were stationed at "the rock" in germany , went to desert storm and straight back to the USA to get disbanded , spearhead i think they called themself , anyway , were cool guys :)
Same went for the russians , my father was able to trade alot of stuff with them in ex yugoslavia, even amunition and the bayonets from their AKs , but the military police would check very careful what was sent back home , i sadly lost ALL my militaria when moving , only left with a never used soviet officer watch :(
As to your friends finding, i think its good even during the cold war ppl realized both side were just humans , not evil capitalists or communists and that its the fault of stubborn politicians.
One last upbeat story, when T95 bear bombers would fly near US carrier groups , Tomcat pilots and the Bear bomber crew would show eachother centerfolds and take photographs of it, reminds me a bit of germans and soviets celebrating Xmas together in stalingrad
Edit: Never mind, I can't read.