Ramstein Air Base
86th Airlift Wing, 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing
Ramstein airbase is located 10 miles northwest of Kaiserslautern and 3 miles northeast of Landstuhl, just outside the Ramstein-Miesenbach community.
The air base is a collaboration of international constructions; the design was that of French engineers, the physical construction was done by some German workers, with help of Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, and Turkish workers, overseen by Americans. The land was swampland, having to be built up almost two meters (6 feet in height) to level the whole area. A railway was constructed from Einseidlerhof-Kaiserslautern in the shape of a yoke around the current base to the Landstuhl spur in 1948 in an agreement by the French and US occupational Forces. The railway was used to move trainload after trainload of earth in order to complete the leveling process of the area. The project was developed and spearheaded by the US Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the French Army between 1949 and 1952. At this time, two bases were laid out, Landstuhl Air Base to the south, and Ramstein Air station, which at this time had no airstrip to the north. Between 1948 and the bases opening in 1953, it was the largest construction project in Europe and employed over 270,000 Europeans at one time.
In 1940, the construction of today's A6 was halted when the bridge being built over the Rhein River, close to Mannheim, collapsed, causing a section of the autobahn to be unusable. A piece of the autobahn, just west of Mannheim, was used by the Luftwaffe as an airstrip; the airstrip later was also utilized by the advancing US forces towards the closing months of World War II. The old aisrstrip is used today as a service road between the current base's East and West gates.
After the war, several Luftwaffe airfields in Bavaria (part of the American occupational area) were repaired. With the arrival of the Berlin Blockade and the horrifying relations between the Soviets by 1948, it became apparent to the USAF planners that these bases held a major foothold because of their close proximity to East German and Czech borders.
In April of 1948, construction of the base had begun under a Franco-American reciprocal agreement. Two separate, adjoining bases were designed; A headquarters for the Twelfth Air Force and several NATO organizations, to be designated Ramstein Air station; and an operational base for a fighter wing, designated Landstuhl Air Base.
On August 5th 1952 Landstuhl AB was opened; its facilities included dispersal hardstands, an ATC tower, flight ramps, other flight line facilities and other supporting units. Det 1, 86th fighter-bomber wing arrived at Landstuhl Airbase on 1 February 1952 from Neubiberg Air Base, near Munich.
On 1 June 1953, Ramstein Air Station was opened; it was the location of the Twelfth Air Force, and supported family housing, a BX, commissary, dependents' schools as well as administrative offices for WAF (Women's Air Force). At that time the barracks at Ramstein AS were used to house the WAF's single women that worked as US Government Employees at both Ramstein AS and Landstuhl AB.
The 86th Air Base Group was commissioned as the main supporting unit for Landstuhl Air Base and the 7030th HQ Support Group was the main supporting unit for Ramstein Air Station. The bases were combined into the largest NATO-controlled air base in Europe. At that time, it was called Ramstein- Landstuhl Air Base, it would be later be renamed Ramstein when German construction of the A6 from Kaiserslautern to Saarbrucken cutoff access to the south of the base, the main gate was then moved to the west gate, which was located in the town of Ramstein in 1961. This also cut the current Kisling Memorial Drive off from the public, marrying the two bases. To this day, the north side of Ramstein maintains a separate APO (09012) from the south side (09009), as well as the separate fitness centers (north and south). In the 1980's, the spate combat support groups, the 86th (on the south side) and the 7030th (on the north side) were consolidated into the 377th Combat support wing.
Flug Tag Air Show Tragedy
28 August 1988, the annual "Flug Tag Air Show" had drawn a crowd of more than 300,000 people to enjoy the day's events.
As ten jets of Italy's "Frecce Tricolori" (Tricolor Arrows) attempted a maneuver called "the pierced heart formation". This formation involves two groups of aircraft, which create a heart as they pass through one another parallel to the audience; it is then pierced by a lone aircraft traveling in the direction of the audience.
The piercing aircraft was collided with two of the aircraft in the heart formation; it was sent crashing onto the tarmac resulting in a fireball of aviation fuel tumbling into the spectator area. It also sent another aircraft from the heart formation crashing into the emergency medical evacuation UH-60 Black Hawk, fatally injuring the pilot of the helicopter (who died weeks later from burns suffered) and killing the pilot of the plane as he hit the runway, after ejecting.
The remaining aircraft later regrouped at Sembach Air Base.
Twenty-eight of the thirty-one people who died at the scene had been hit by shrapnel from airplane parts, concertina wire, and FOD. A total of sixteen of the deaths occurred due to burns suffered, including the injured helicopter pilot.
Approximately 500 people were injured (most being burned) and 69 total were killed either at the site or died later from injuries suffered.
Thirteen Airmen were killed and another four were injured when a C-5 Galaxy crashed seconds after take-off from Ramstein's westbound runway on August 29, 1990. Loaded with medical supplies, dry rations and 180,000 pounds of fuel, the aircraft was bound for the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield.
- Capt. Bradley R. Schuldt of the 7th Air Division at Ramstein
- Master Sgt. Samuel M. Gardner Jr. and Staff Sgt. Marc H. Cleyman of the 31st Weather Squadron at Hahn Air Base, West Germany
- Staff Sgt. Randy J. Hulec of the 31st Weather Squadron at Ramstein
Also killed and all from the 433rd Military Airlift Wing at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas:
- Maj. John M. Gordon, pilot
- Maj. Richard W. Chase, pilot
- Maj. Richard M Price, pilot
- Senior Master Sgt. Caprio Villarreal Jr., flight engineer
- Master Sgt. Rosendo Herrera, flight engineer
- Tech Sgt. Daniel G. Perez, loadmaster
- Tech Sgt. Lonty A. Knutson, crew chief
- Staff Sgt. Daniel Garza, crew chief
- Staff Sgt. Edward E. Sheffield, loadmaster
Survivors who were hospitalized in West Germany were identified as:
- Lt. Col. Frederick K. Artz Jr. of the 62nd Military Airlift Wing at McChord Air Base, Wa.
- Lt. Cynthia A. Borecky of the 3rd Weather Squadron at England Air Force Base, La
- Master Sgt. Dwight A. Pettit Jr. of the 62nd Military Airlift Wing
- Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Galvan Jr. of the 433rd Military Airlift Wing. (Received Airman's Medal for evacuating survivors from wreckage)
" I made this video to honor the flight crew and passengers that passed on, in the crash. The aircraft was on spot 2 of the MAC ramp and I was working on the aircraft on spot 3 of the MAC ramp. Standing in front of the aircraft I was talking to my supervisor. We watched the aircraft taxi around me then out to the runway. As the aircraft took-off it should have had the same flight path as the aircraft in the video but it never got above 100 feet. It went into a left bank and rolled into the trees. Prior to the aircraft departure the engineer was showing photos of his daughter to the maintenance crew. He also showed us a small blue teddy bear he had purchased for his daughter. I did find it in the crash site, it was in bad shape and to this day when ever I see a small blue teddy bear I think of what a proud father he was."
- MSgt Mike Miller (Ret)