JANUARY 2002 WOLF STORIES

 

Although flying coal and food to Berlin to keep the city alive and break the hold of the Soviets was the purpose of the airlift - it wasn't work all the time.  As the old saying goes:  All work makes Jonnie a dull boy.  Believe me, the airlifters I met at Fassberg as a youngster were anything but dull boys.  And what could be more natural then for young men to go looking for female companionship.

 
"As a twenty-one-year-old airman, (explains Jim Vaughn) I did the job I was required to do as an aircraft mechanic."  Jim was stationed at RAF Fassberg with Moe Hamill: Moe flew the planes Jim fixed.  According to Jim, "When I was not on the job, I took the time to explore the local sights, keeping on the lookout for beautiful German girls.  I found one, a lovely young lady, Ursula, who lived in the town of Lueneburg.  After a fast and furious courtship, we were married in the Fassberg base chapel on August 17, 1949, and then spent a short honeymoon on the island of Sylt in the North Sea.  In late September 1949 I brought my new German bride to the United States." 

Jim and Ursula's marriage must have been one of the first airlift weddings, but many more airmen were to marry German girls in the weeks to follow.  Other relationships were more casual.  "Easy girls" drifted to American military bases, and the associated problems were a headache for squadron commanders.  The commander of the 29th Troop Carrier Squadron, Lieutenant Colonel Elmer E. McTaggart, was faced with the age-old problem of what to do about it.  He finally wrote a letter to his men, appealing to them to mend their ways:  Again during the month of June, the 29th Squadron proved it was the best unit on the station.  As we did in May, we carried more coal to Berlin in the greatest number of flights.  We had the greatest number of aircraft in commission and the least amount of turn-around maintenance.  As a matter of interest, let me enumerate what the 29th Squadron was leading in for the month of June:
 
a.  Greatest number of flights to Berlin.
b.  Greatest amount of coal to Berlin.
c.  Largest number of aircraft in commission.
d.  Greatest number of discrepancy reports.
e.  Greatest number of VD cases.
 
There can be no doubt from the above that we are the workingest, fightingest ... outfit on the field.  It is nice to deal in superlatives when speaking of our squadron.  However, I wonder if it is possible to eliminate discrepancy reports and VD from our list?  Each one of you is certainly entitled to a "well done."  Let's keep up the good work.  (signed:  McTaggart, Lt/Col, Commanding)
 
I have no idea how successful Colonel McTaggart was in his appeal, but three months later the airlift ended, and RAF Fassberg reverted to its former quiet self."  Excerpted from,  I Always Wanted to Fly, Univ. Press of Mississippi, pp 54-55, by Wolfgang W. E. Samuel.
 
In 1949 I was a 14 year old German refugee living in a rundown barracks compound off the Fassberg runway, near the village of Trauen.  I walked every day to Fassberg to school - the red brick school right across from the Lutheran church.  I admired you Americans:  "There were so many wonderful things for a young boy to discover about these American soldiers.  They were different from soldiers I had known before, mostly men whose faces were hard and whose fingers were never far from the triggers of their guns.  These Americans carried no guns.  Their numbers grew by the day; they flooded the town of Fassberg with their presence.  Soon a Gasthaus catering exclusively to them opened its doors.  Called Mom's Place, it was filled with young Americans from early afternoon until late at night.  The place was only a few houses away from my school, and on my way home I could see the soldiers sitting there, laughing, enjoying the German beer they liked so much, and smoking endless packs of cigarettes.  If they weren't smoking or drinking, they were chewing gum....."  This is how I saw things when the airlift ended:  "On September 27, 1949, Fassberg went back into caretaker status, and the Americans were gone.  The bars that had opened for them were closed.  The American airmen and their money were a thing of the past.  The girls disappeared too.  The merchants who sold wares to the Americans from their portable stands along the main road no longer came to Fassberg.  At the main gate, German guards in brown GSO uniforms controlled access again as they had before the Americans arrived.  An English soldier sat in the guardhouse where the American MPs had once sat.  It was as if the Americans had never been there.  I suddenly missed the Americans and their airplanes.  I missed being aroud those noisy, confident, and carefree people, the people who liked to play games - to win."  Excerpted from German Boy, Broadway Books, pp 295&317, by Wolfgang W.E. Samuel.