"HAHN...AFTER ME!"

Hahn Air Base, 1953 - 1991

 

50th Tactical Fighter Wing

The following is an article that appeared July 19, 1991, by Colonel Dana Duthie, 50th TFW Deputy Commander of Operations, in the base newspaper, The Hahn Hawk.

Fighter Squadrons Close Shop, One-By-One.

As the sun slowly sets over the Stipshausen hill, the shadows grow long over Hahn. The 50th TFW in its twilight has been a gray, sombering experience. In a few short months, Hahn has gone from a full up operation with three triple tasked F-16 squadrons to a small support base and no flying operations at all.

The demise of the 50th TFW and its three fighter squadrons has not been fun. How quickly we forget the glorious past when a wing goes down.

Watching this from the inside has been an eye-opening experience. The history of the 50th TFW and the 10th, 313th and 496th Tactical Fighter Squadrons has been as colorful as any in the Air Force. The three squadrons are rich with tradition...the walls abound with historical parafanalia that only ghosts of the past can truly explain. Fighter pilots from long ago still sit around and talk of "the good old days".

As we clean out desk drawers and closets, we find photo albums, plaques and trophies portraying these heroes as valiant warriors, true to their squadron and the 50th TFW. But, alas our time has come. With one fell stroke of the pen and presumably well thought out decisions, the 50th TFW and its three fighter squadrons are history. Inactivation! This is supposedly a temporary term (as opposed to DEactivation), giving the Air Force the capability to bring them out of the closet at a future date.

So one at a time, the squadrons have folded. The 496th TFS went out quietly in March because we still could not go public with this grand obituary. LtCol. Bill Harrell, 496th TFS Commander, held a quiet, informal ceremony in his empty building on an appropriate day - the Ides of March. The "Big Dogs" had long since gone to join the 10th at Desert Storm or helped fill out the 313th. A proud and unusual group of men and women who once were the "Big Dog Nation", were reduced to memories.

Next came the "Lucky Puppies" of the 313th TFS. A relatively young squadron to the wing with respect to Hahn and the 50th TFW, the 313th reactivated in 1976. The "Pups" established a reputation for excellence amd "Firsts" early on. For most of 1991, LtCol. Hymie Oram„s squadron has been the only show in town supporting all of the local flying. That in itself was an awesome task - it„s not easy having to support three colonels and an occasional major general„s flying habits. Protocol becomes an every day affair. No one ever did it better. Colonel Hymie and Cindi Oram are a "touch of class" and where the 313th suffered in continuity, they more than made up for in style. Once again, however, the final "Puppy Chow" had to be incognito- for on April 26, we still could not come out of the closet with our demise.

Now it is the Sabres„ turn. The 10th TFS finally returned from Desert Storm to a rousing welcome May 9 and 10- only to find an assignment for each and every one of them. The pilots all knew of their next job even before they returned and although their recent past was colored with combat and glory, their future was on most of their minds. Before the squadron could even get back to business in the skies of Germany, they had to first plan a change of command- albeit for a tenure of just a few months. LtCol. Ed Houle, 10th TFS Commander, has departed as a true warrior and great leader of men and many of us believe we„ll all be working for him again in the future. LtCol. Steve Wood has stepped up to a tough and sad mission, and he is demonstrating an organization and leadership capacity that will serve him well. To close out the wing„s flying mission, while requalifying the 10th pilots in events they had not flown in months, was not easy. The weather man helped out and the Sabres go out as current and ready as they had ever been.

Very soon, the only sound of jet noise over Hahn will be Spangdahlem, Ramstein and other fighters taking a short cut home. When you look up and see them go by, remember that„s the second team. The first team has been temporarily sidelined.

As I finish this article that was started in April, I look back on an event-packed year. I arrived here as the deputy for operations one year ago- ready to help convert the wing to Block 40 F-16 LANTIRN system. In that year we stopped the conversion, took a Nuclear Surety Inspection, a CFE Treaty inspection and have almost completely inactivated the operation. Oh, by the way, we went to war, too! My reflections of the year are not the prettiest, but certainly, the busiest of my career. But, my reflections of Hahn will always be special. I have spent almost 5 1/2 years here over a 23 year career- nearly one quarter of my Air Force life. I will always remember the lousy weather and the beautiful countryside, the harrowing roads and our wonderful German hosts, the awesome mission and the fantastic people. The people! The guts of Hahn! My fondest memories will always be my time with all of you. Thanks!

Take A Final Look...It's Time To Say Goodbye!



Note: The United States Air Force returned Hahn Air Base to the German Government by the end of 1991, only several months after this article was written. The air field is now a thriving commercial airport, operating 24-hours per day. The former base housing area is a training school for the National German Police Force; other base buildings, are now homes to various commercial businesses. The weather is still the same ...lousy! Somethings never change.

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