Here we will be exhibiting personalities from the Wiesbaden area past and present.
Honoring a bond over sixty-years strong
Story by Gary Bautell
The Federation of German-American Clubs, which has members from the U.S. military, has presented its highest award, the General Lucius D. Clay Medal, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Gary Bautell reports from Berlin.
Quelle: American Forces Network Europe
Halvorsen – Tunner School Rhein-Main Airbase
The Berlin Airlift Memorial along A 5 near the Zeppelinheim exit is the only reminder that there used to be the Rhein-Main Airbase behind the fence. It existed for 60 years and was closed in December 2005. Aside from office buildings, hangars and airplanes it also had shops, a hotel, 2 movie theatres, entertainment- and medical facilities, the Gateway Gardens housing area and a school: Halvorsen – Tunner school for elementary and middle school students.
Gail S. Halvorsen, called the “Candy Bomber” was a young pilot during the Berlin Airlift while General William H. Tunner directed the entire “Operation Vittles”.
The following video clip has more details. It was prepared by Edmund Liewig, Angelika Perko, Dolores Field and Regina Majer
About Gail S. Halvorsen (source: Wikipedia)German-American relations
Halvorsen’s actions as the original candy bomber may have had a substantial impact on the postwar perception of Americans in Germany, and it is still pointed to as a symbol of German-American relations. He has appeared many times on German TV over the years, often paired with some of the children, now grown adults, who received his candy parachutes. In 1974 he was decorated with the “Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz” (Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany), one of Germany’s highest Medals. During the opening march for the 2002 Winter Olympics on February 8, Halvorsen carried the German team’s national placard into Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium.
In 1989, Halvorsen engaged in a reenactment of the actions in Berlin for the fortieth anniversary of the airlift. During Operation Provide Promise in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he dropped candy from a USAF C-130 of the 435th Airlift Wing, flying from Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany. Halvorsen also participated in closing ceremonies for Tempelhof Air Base in 1993 and in 50th anniversary celebrations of the airlift in Berlin in 1998. The United States military has modelled some of Halvorsen’s actions in Iraq dropping toys, teddy bears, and soccer balls to Iraqi children. In 2004 Halvorsen hoped to launch a similar action for the children of Iraq.
About William H. Tunner (source: Wikipedia) Tunner’s reputation for managing airlift recommended him to bring efficiency to the Berlin Airlift. The organization of the five-week-old operation was haphazard because USAFE was a tactical organization without experience in running transport operations, trying to feed the city using 54 C-54 Skymasters supplemented by a section of C-47 Skytrains, basically using bomber operation methods. On July 22, 1948, the National Security Council met with European commander Gen. Lucius D. Clay and concluded that expansion of the operation was essential. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg immediately appointed Tunner to the job, and he arrived in Wiesbaden, Germany, on July 28, 1948. By mid-August Tunner had added 72 C-54s to the effort and brought in two-thirds of all USAF C-54 aircrews world-wide to fly the airlift 24 hours a day. In 1953, he was appointed commander, United States Air Forces in Europe, a post in Wiesbaden, he held four years during the buildup of NATO air forces.
Joachim “Chuck” Leichsenring
10 Dec. 1926 – 19 Aug. 2009
It was Chuck who first approached me about joining the Wiesbaden Association of Good Neighbors and it was always Chuck when I needed advice and help. He was a remarkable man. Always enjoying life to the fullest, always ready to help and when problems developed, always ready to find a solution in that quiet, pleasant way of his.
Chuck was a soldier in World War Two and found himself trying to stop the advancing Allied army on the Western Front. Later, like so many other German soldiers, he began working for the American military in the Wiesbaden area and made that his career. In the early years Americans would ask their German ex-soldier friends where they fought during the war. Almost everyone replied, “On the Russian front”. It was a kind of joke those days. Chuck always answered he was trying the stop the U.S. advance around the Battle of the Bulge. One officer replied, “Oh so you are the one”. That’s just the way he was, always honest but uncomfortable in saying anything unfavorable about anyone.
People valued Chuck’s friendship. Long after he retired, Americans he worked with kept in touch and shared visits. He was a regular at WAGN Stammtisch evenings, sharing stories, making new members feel comfortable and welcome and always one of the last to leave. His passing comes as a surprise. His energy (he played drums in local bands right up to the end) his love and joy of life made all of us feel he would be with us for a long time. He died of complications following what was supposed to have been routine surgery.
He will be sorely missed.
Wiesbaden Association of Good Neighbors
The Grave of the Red Baron Rittmeister Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen
Having lived in Wiesbaden for many years it came as quite a surprise recently to learn that the legendary Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen was buried in this city`s Südfriedhof (South Cemetery). Von Richthofen with his bright red Fokker Dr. 1 tri-plane was the greatest ace of World War I having shot down 80 enemy aircraft.
The circumstances of his death have been a matter of much debate. It was first believed that Canadian pilot Captain Roy Brown, who had nine kills, brought down the 25 year old Red Baron. But most historians agree, based on the trajectory of the bullet that killed him and eyewitness accounts, that he was hit by ground fire from Australian troops as he passed over their lines in hot pursuit of another Canadian plane.
Von Richthofen`s remains were in for a long journey before they reached their final resting place here in Wiesbaden. He was first buried with full military honors by the Australian troops in Bertangles, France on the 22nd of April, 1918. Then, three years later the French Cemetery Service moved his body to the German Soldier`s Cemetery at Fricourt. The von Richthofen family had wanted to bring his remains to the family plot at Schweidnitz but the German government wanted to give the Red Baron a hero`s burial at Berlin`s Invalidenfriedhof where many German war heroes and leaders are buried. The ceremony on November 20th, 1925 was attended by thousands of citizens, hundreds of soldiers and officers and by the President of the Reich Paul von Hindenburg. Finally in 1975 the Red Baron`s remains were moved to Wiesbaden and placed in the von Richthofen family tomb.
The grave site is easy to find. Once you have passed through the main entrance to the Südfriedhof turn right. At the end of the last white building of the main entrance turn right onto the path into the Westhain section of the cemetery (you will see a small sign close to the ground with the name Westhain). Keep right and follow along the wall for a short distance and on the left side of the path you will see five flat, weathered and greenish stones laying on the ground in front of a large headstone inscribed, von Richthofen. The Red Baron`s stone is in the center. The day we visited the grave two red roses had been placed on it.