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Trivia and History of Rhein Main AB & 435th OMS Enroute MX Section
If you have any additional information you would like to add, please let me know.

In recognition of the men, women and supporting family members who were stationed with the 435th OMS Enroute Maintenance Section and Associated Units, we are planning to salute and thank you for attending our 2009 reunion, plus you will have a fantastic time at our upcoming reunions.


We have members who were assigned to Enroute in the late 60's, 70’s and early 80’s, who once worked in the “OLD ENROUTE” building, which was used during the Berlin Airlift. (ALLOT OF MEMORABLE MEMORIES)


We also have members who were assigned to Enroute during the 90's and 2000 - 2005


I am putting together a little bit of history of the 435th OMS Enroute together.


The following information has been given to me from Mr. Harry Bryza.


* Rhein Main AB opened in July 1936.
* US Forces were then stationed there since March 1945.
* The Berlin Airlift (Operation Vittles) was June 26, 1948 to May 12, 1949.
* April 1959 Rhein Main became the main supply and support base for USAFE.
* 1956 Transient Facilities were built.
* Prior to the 435th OMS/Enroute section, Enroute existed in the form of the 630th MASS (Military Airlift Support Squadron).  The base with the C-130 tactical airlift and the C-131 medical airlift squadrons were USAFE owned and MAC was a tenant on base (it was so nice not playing the war games that the base people did).  I arrived at Rhein Main 23 June 1969 and was assigned to the 439 Material Sq (MAC), 630th MASSq (Enroute).  All commercial planes landed on the flughafen side and we were bused to the base and the pax terminal which was located where freight is near Pit-4. 
* Enroute was located in the one wing of the U-shaped building where Fleet Service worked from. The adjacent building was Job Control and Orderly Room.  And yes, we even had a volley ball court there.
* Later (not quite sure the date) but the pax terminal moved from the freight building (as freight took over the whole building) and moved into Base Ops on the main floor.  Business was still pretty much the same with planes landing on the flughafen side and pax bussed over.
* Once the new passenger terminal (building 400, T-1 & T-2) was built Enroute moved from the Fleet Service area buildings into the main floor of Base Ops.  It was nice to run downstairs to the cafeteria and grab a bit and coffee before roll call and not to worry about being late.
* All assigned transient MAC aircraft was handled by Enroute to include C-97, C-121, C-124, C-133, C-141, and finally the C-5.  If you thought the C-5 broke at lot, you missed out on the C-124 and C-133.  I can remember when the C-5 came into being.  Prior to it the C-141 was silver, then were painted to white/gray scheme.  The first one that landed at Rhein Main some of the guys thought it was our first C-5 due to the paint scheme.
* I left the 630th MASSq/Enroute 22 June 1973 and enroute was still in the Base Ops building.
* Here is the biggy - in 1974 MAC took over all tactical airlift aircraft in the Air Force.  Also close to that time the C-9 was replacing the C-131 at Rhein Main and in the Philippines.  Since MAC did not want to relinquish control of these fine new aircraft, plus the assigned/transient C-130s now belonging to MAC, Rhein Main changed commands from USAFE to MAC in March 31, 1975.  It was about this time when the 435 OMS was born.
* I returned to Rhein Main on 29 Feb 1976 and was supposed to go to the Base Environmental shop (I even had a delay in route from Travis to go to Scott, Il and learn the C-9.)  However, Chief  (can't remember his name was still in charge of Enroute as when I left (he wanted me to stay back then) (Possibly Chief Pursley or Chief  Jenny).  Anyhow he told his people to scarf me up as I already had the Enroute experience/knowledge. So I was back in Enroute but enroute had moved from Base OPs and into the buildings that used to belong to a rotational KC-97L ANG squadron called "Creek Party".  They were there from May 1967.  Of course I stayed in Enroute until 24 Feb 1981.
Some updates:
* 1 Dec 1978 to 28 Feb 1979 Enroute folks received the Humanitarian Service Medal for support of evacuation of civilians, families, and military from Iran prior to the hostage taking and the embassy who were later returned through Rhein Main Jan 1981.
* Wednesday, Aug 29, 1979 at 1:45 pm C-5 from Dover nose landing on 07R (see attached newspaper clipping).  This wasn't the first incident with a C-5.  My first stint (with the 630th) we had one land in the evening with no hydraulics, just emergency brake bottle.  He landed on 07L and put the engines in T/R and was screaming all the way down the runway finally coming to a stop in the overrun area.  Our Uke (U-30) driver did more damage to the landing lights and grass the plane did.
*In the same "Gateway" article was also about enroute participation from Aug 10-20, 1979 of withdraw of the Inter-African Peacekeeping Force (IAF) and equipment from Zaire.
* 1983 - The Flying Tiger incident was not the first time that occurred.  Sometime near the end of 1980 and prior to my DEROS (Figgy might remember or even have photos).  I was working the front office with Captain Hackett (as Chief was TDY and all seniors were taking turns in the seat) when a Flying Tigers 747 freighter started his takeoff roll on 25L (right in front of Enroute) when the cargo load shifted and the pilot aborted his take-off.  The weight shifted to the front and drove the nose gear assembly right up through the nose of the plane.  It sat in front of Enroute for a while as some of the cargo had to moved and aircraft jacked and moved from runway.
Side Note:  I just returned from a vacation to Frankfurt in April this year, and the base is gone.  All that remains is the Hotel (which is still be used by the Germans).  All the hangers when you first came on base, base ops, terminal are all gone.  The whole side is mainly used for civilian cargo operations.  The Berlin Airlift memorial was still there, but looked like it was being refurbished as had tarps and scaffolding around the planes.
* Rhein Main AB opened in July 1936.

* US Forces were then stationed there since March 1945.

* The Berlin Airlift (Operation Vittles) was June 26, 1948 to May 12, 1949.

* April 1959 Rhein Main became the main supply and support base for USAFE.

* 1956 Transient Facilities were built.

(Contributed by Mr. Harry Bryza) 


*1969 Rhein Main AB

* * 439th Material Squadron (MAC Tenant Unit)




(Contributed by Mr.Jim Christenson)


1975  (March 31)  Rhein Main changed commands, from USAFE to MAC


1975 (?)  Is believed to be when the 435th OMS originated


1979  (August 29)  C-5 landed with NLG retracted, minimum damage, acft repaired in less than 12 hours and was flying again.


1981 (Jan 20) Iran Hostages returned to Rhein Main AB

Deicer truck pony motor caught fire while deicing  former President Jimmy’s Carter’s aircraft on national TV. Rory and FIG were the operators. Just hours prior the fire, secret service had both Enrouters in the snow for taking PICs from the boom.while it was extended. (ASK RORY & FIG WHY THEY WERE IN THE SNOW JJ)


1982  (?)  Pete Bishofberger drove Golf 3 into the old Enroute building. Luckily Pete was a carpenter and fixed the building. Simon Monk remembers this occasion because he was next to the spot when Pete decided to make our building a Drive-In Enrouter building.


While talking about Pete, hopefully we can find Pete so he can tell us how you reinstall a C-141 leading edge with nails and a hammer.


1982  ( ?)  Mike Fox was in the calavar when the boom crumpled in half. Apparently, the boom was out to far, but no one was hurt.


1982  ( ?)  Date new Enroute building was completed & we moved in


1982  (?)   “C” FLT handled an URGENT C-141 with minimal ground time.

Acft was carrying a replacement Palm Tree to replace a Palm Tree cut down in Saudi Arabia, when a C-5 taxied down the wrong Taxiway. Tree had to be cut down, to allow the C-5 to continue taxing.


1982  (Nov  8)  VP George HW Bush stopped at Rhein Main on the way to attend Leonard Brezhnev's Funeral in Moscow.  Richard “FIG” Figueroa was accused of stealing cuckoo clocks and cameras belonging to Vice President George H Bush’s aircraft (Daddy Bush). 


1983 (May 28)  Canadian F-104 Crashed during Rhein Main Air Show.


1983   (Oct)  “B” FLT did the medivac configurations on the first 2 C-141s flying to Beirut to EVAC the 200 (+) wounded and dead soldiers from the bomb blast.


1983   (?)  A Flying Tigers military chartered Cargo 747 - cargo shifted on take off and was near disaster, when it skidded down the runway at Frankfurt INTL Airport. George Mayteyko and FIG just happened to be on the flightline and saw it happen


1983  (?)   Certain Enrouters took "Moon Shots" on unexpecting crew members camera that was left in the airplane. That crew member had a surprise when he had his film developed.


1985  (Aug 8)   Terrorists planted bomb in car, blew up at Wing HQ.

XXXX  (?)          Date original Enroute building torn down

1999  (?)          Greg McCue hosted first actual Enroute Reunion in New Mexico

2001  (Oct?)     First FORMAL Enroute Reunion was held in Myrtle Beach, SC

2003  (Oct ?)    Enroute Reunion was held in St Louis

2005 (Sept 28)  Last official C-17 air mission departs the Rhein Main AB.

2005 (Sept 30)  Rhein Main closed for Air Traffic

XXXX (?)            Enroute MX was terminated at Rhein Main when? 

2005 (Oct ?)      Enroute Reunion held again in St Louis

2005 (Dec 31)   Rhein Main is officially turned over to the German government

2006 (Jan 1)     German Flughafen Cargo Processing Hub

2006 (??)          Enroute Reunion was held in Reno, NV. Hosted by Carl Bodin

2007 (??)          Enroute Reunion was held in Branson, MO. Hosted by Bruno Potter and  

                        Joe Leonard.


2008  (Sept 26-27) Mini Reunion will be held at Robins AFB, GA.



On a personal note, my most memorable moment at Rhein Main AB: 

January 20, 1981, minutes after Reagan was sworn in as President, the American hostages were released by Iran into U.S. custody, having spent 444 days in captivity. The hostages were flown to Algeria as a symbolic gesture for the help of that government in resolving the crisis. The flight continued to Rhein-Main Air Base in West Germany, where former President Carter, acting as emissary, received them. After medical check-ups and debriefings, they took a second flight to Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, with a refueling stop in Shannon, Ireland, where they were greeted by a large crowd. From Newburgh they traveled by bus to the United States Military Academy, receiving a heroes' welcome all along the route. Ten days after their release, the former hostages were given a ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes in New York City. It was an honor being able to part of the aircraft recovery which made the return of these heros, back to the USA. a part of history. 


May we always remember:


Col. Gail Halvorsen, USAF, RET


Rhein-Main AB, Germany


         Location: 7 miles Sw of Frankfurt


         Previous Names:


Frankfurt/Rhein-Main Rhein-Main Airfield Rhein-Main AB


         Date of Establishment: German - 1936, USAAF - 9 May 45


         Date Construction Began: 1934, 1945


         Date of Beneficial Occupancy: 8 Apr 45


         Base Operating Units:

  8 Apr 1945

362 Fighter Group & 379 Fighter Group

14 Apr 1945

377/378 Fighter Squadrons

12 Apr 1945

425 Night Fighter Squadron

15 Apr 1945

368 Fighter Group

26 Apr 1945

HQ 826 Engineering Aviation Bn

20 Nov 1945

466 Air Service Group

20 Nov 1947

Redesignated HQ & Base Service 61 Air Base Gp

  1 Jul 1948

61 Air Base Group

  2 Jun 1951

60 Air Base Group

18 Apr 1955

7310 Air Base Group

  8 Mar 1958

Redesignated 7310 Support Group

15 May 1960

Redesignated 7310 Air Base Wing

26 Sep 1964

Redesignated 7310 Air Base Group

  1 Nov 1968

Redesignated 7310 TAW

  1 Jan 1970

322 Combat Support Group

  1 Jul 1975

435 Combat Support Group

  1 Apr 1992

Redesignated 435 Support Group

         Major Units Assigned

  8 Apr 45 - 30 Apr  45

362 Fighter Gr                                    P-47

12 Apr 45 -   2 May 45

425 N Ftr Sq                                       P-61

15 Apr 45 – 13 May 45

368 Ftr Gp                                          P-47

  8 Feb 47 – 21 Jul 50

61 Troop Carrier Gp                          C-54

21 Aug 50 -

7329 Labor Svc Unit (Engineer Coast)

21 Aug 50 -

7331 Labor Svc Unit (Guard)

21 Aug 50  -

7333 Labor Unit (Admin Liaison)

  1 Jan 51 – 22 Sep 55

60 Air Base Gp             C-54, C-82, C-119

  2 Aug 51 – 14 Jul 52

433 Troop Carrier Gp                       C-119

14 Jul 52 – 21 Mar 53

317 Troop Carrier Gp                       C-119

 ?49? – 1 Jul 64

7167 Special Air Mission Sq C-54M, C-47


Redesignated 1767 Air Transport Sq


7430 Medical Air Evac Gp             C-54M

52 -

HQ 7 Engineer Aviation Brigade

 3 Apr 53 – 1 Nov 73

7050 Air Intelligence Svc Wing

Redesignated 7113 Spec Activities Gp

15 Sep 58 – 1 Jul 93

2 Aeromed Evac Gp

Redesignated 2 Aeromed Evac Sq

 8 Jan 66 – 1 Jul 93

55 Mil Airlift Sq                                   C-9

Redesignated 55 Aeromed Airlift Sq

1 Jul 69 – 1 Apr 93

435 TAC Airlift Wing                       C-130

1 Jul 69 – 1 Oct 94

37 Airlift Sq                                       C-130

1 Apr 95

469 ABG

1 Nov 96 – 10 Mar 97

93 Air Expeditionary Gp (P)                 E-8

Disposition: Active stand-by USAFE base. Negotiations underway for full return to German government.                                                                                                       USAFE/HO 2 Aug 99




 In 1909 Rhein-Main was first used as a landing ground for dirigibles and by 1936 was a commercial airport with the northern side for aircraft and the southern part near Zeppelinheim for air ships. The Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg were based here until the Hindenburg disaster in New Jersey in 1937 when they were dismantled. On 6 May 1940, the base was converted for military use. Rhein-Main provided the staging area for Luftwaffe activities on the western front as the German Army massed for the drive across France. After the initial action, the Luftwaffe moved to bases in France and Rhein-Main was only used sporadically as a fighter base and experimental station. In late 1944, with the liberation of France and the Germans falling back, the base was used by again by Luftwaffe fighters and attracted the attention of the Allies who conducted daily bombing raids on the field making it nearly unusable. Elements of the 10 Infantry Rgt secured the airport on Mar 27, 1945.


Rhein-Main Airport was first occupied by the 362 Ftr Gp and 379 Ftr Sq on 8 Apr 45 followed shortly by the 377/378 Ftr Sqs on 14 Apr 45. The 425 Night Ftr Sq arrived on 12 Apr 45 and the 368 Ftr Gp on 15 Apr 45. The 826 Engineering Bn moved in on Apr 26, 1945 and began to clean up and rebuild. They built new runways and extended and widened the existing runway, constructed aprons and hardstands as well as taxiways leading to the new terminal, finished in 1946. Traffic increased after the closure of the Orly Field military passenger terminal in Oct 46 and Rhein-Main hosted the Eastern Air Transport Service in Jan 47.


Although envisioned as a bomber base, Rhein-Main became the largest military aerial port of entry into Europe from 1947 - 1959 becoming known as the "Gateway to Europe". Rhein-Main was the main western base for the round-the clock Berlin Airlift operations from Jun 48 to Sep 49. After the Berlin Airlift ended, there was a period of growth and renovations of many buildings on the base and the acquisition of family housing areas. In 1950, all military activities were concentrated on the southern side leaving the northern side for the civilian terminal and the ever-expanding commercial air traffic.


Units at Rhein-Main participated in many humanitarian operations helping out in floods and earthquakes throughout the area. Also, the base was host to Kinder lift for 5 years of a program to airlift children from the isolation of Berlin to a month of vacation at Frankfurt. Many American families at Rhein-Main sponsored a child in their homes.


During this period Frankfurt Airport quickly developed into Germany's air transport hub and traffic rose steeply requiring extensions and new buildings and more and more space. Rhein Main AB did not belong to Germany. US forces had commandeered the base at the end of World War II. In the late 1950s, the German government requested that the base be returned to its owners, the International Airport Frankfurt, with the understanding that the property would continue to be available to US forces under a special arrangement between the airport, the German government, and USAFE. USAFE accepted this proposal in November 1959 and returned title to the property. To provide for the continued use of Rhein Main AB, the German government leased the property from the airport and made it available to USAFE. The 1959 "Rights" agreement set very specific limitations to the USAF's use of Rhein-Main such as no fighter or bomber aircraft - only transports would use the base, only US forces supporting admin and transport operations would use the base and ammo storage would only be enough for units stationed at the base.


After this Rhein-Main AB became the main supply and support base for USAFE providing the air logistical support for all US forces in Europe. Facilities such as fuelling and logistical handling were shared by the military and airport. Maneuvers and military exercises with NATO sanction frequently found Rhein-Main functioning as a main buildup point because of its airlift capability and strategic locations. "Big Lift" in Oct 63 involved airlifting 14,500 men of the 2nd Armored Div from Ft Hood to Rhein-Main in less than 3 days and continued with "Reforger", the first one in 69 which was an annual exercise to test large-scale deployment. These cold-war exercises demonstrated the US's determination to defend Europe.


 On 1Jul 75 the base transferred from USAFE to MAC and was charged with tactical airlift operations in Europe. In Jan 8l, the Iranian hostages arrived at Rhein Main and in Oct 83, the casualties from the bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon were airlifted to Rhein-Main. On 26 Jun 85, the Berlin Airlift monument was dedicated. During Desert Shield/Storm Rhein Main was used as a stopover for over 240,000 troops deploying and was the primary aeromedical staging facility and the centralized regional repair and supply activity for all C-130s assigned to SW Asia. In the next years there were many humanitarian operations which involved Rhein-Main - "Provide Comfort" (Krudish refugee relief), "Provide Promise" ( humanitarian airlift into Sarajevo), "Restore Hope" (Somalia relief), "Provide Promise" (relief supplies into Bosnia).


In December 1993, USAFE and the German government agreed to consolidate theater airlift at Ramstein AB, allowing USAFE to transfer 131.9 hectares (about 326 acres) of land to the airport. In exchange, the Frankfort Airport Authority would contribute up to 100 million Deutsche Marks (DM) for 14 construction projects at Ramstein as payment-in- kind residual value for the sections of Rhein Main being returned. Under the agreement, USAFE retained full access rights to the base during contingencies, permitting a rapid spin-up. USAFE planned to retain only the flightline area, industrial facilities, contingency dorms, and housing.


Efforts to close parts of Rhein Main AB progressed quickly. In late June 1994, aircraft began transferring to Ramstein AB; the 37th Airlift Squadron officially moved there on 1 October. On 1 April 1995, the 435th Airlift Wing, host unit of Rhein Main AB since 1975, and its subordinate units inactivated in formal ceremonies that marked the transition of the base to a contingency base. HQ USAFE activated the 469th Air Base Squadron the same day to replace the wing.


The base population, which had been over 5,000 in 1993, was expected to be 991, but by the end of 1995, the number had increased again to 1,452. By March 1996, about 2,500 people either worked or lived on the base and contingency operations in support of the Dayton Peace Accords for Bosnia brought another 1,800 people to the base.


In recognition of the base's strategic importance, HQ USAFE redesignated the 469th Air Base Squadron as a group on 1 August 96. As a group, the commander, a colonel, had more authority in conducting day-to-day affairs as well as organizing for a wartime mission. The upgrade also placed the commander in a better position to deal with local German authorities and visiting US dignitaries.


Frankfurt Airport was in desperate need of more room and continually negotiated for greater access to Rhein-Main facilities. With the reduction in forces and several bases standing empty USAFE began to negotiate in 1998 for payment-in- kind construction projects at Ramstein and Spangdahlem in return for the complete hand-over of Rhein-Main AB to the Germans. On 27 Jul 99 a preliminary hand-over agreement was signed and will undergo a review process by both governments before it becomes final.


USAFE/HO 2 Aug 99



Please pass the word to all Enrouters you are in contact with of our reunion.
We could use your help in locating the Enrouters I have listed on missing page.
Does anyone have any information they would like for me to post on our reunion website? Please let me know if you would like to post something for you.

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