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Ramstein Air Base, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

December 30th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Photo: A retiring C-130 Hercules overflies the control tower at Ramstein AB.

Ramstein Air Base (located at 49°26.49′N 7°35.50′E) is a military airbase in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. The east gate of Ramstein Air Base is about 16 kilometers, or 10 miles, from Kaiserslautern (locally referred to by Americans as "K-Town"). Other nearby civilian communities include Ramstein-Miesenbach, just outside the base's west gate, and Landstuhl, about five kilometers from the west gate.

The host unit at Ramstein Air Base is the United States Air Force 435th Air Base Wing, which supports the USAF 86th Airlift Wing, 38th Combat Support Wing as well as other units at the base and surrounding region.

Ramstein is a NATO support installation; however, is not given the designation of a NATO base. Canadian, German, British, American, French, Belgian, Polish, Czech, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch forces are located at the base. The 86th's mission is the operation and maintenance of airlift assets consisting of C-130s, C-9s, C-20s, and C-21s throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It has been rumored that Ramstein will be turned over to the German military within the next 20 years.

Ramstein's wings are assigned to the newly created HQ Air Command Europe also Headquartered at Ramstein AB.

The base is the largest component of the Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC), where more than 16,400 American service members and more the 5,400 US civilian employees live and work. US organizations in the KMC also employ the services of more than 6,200 German workers. Air Force units in the KMC alone employ almost 9,800 military members, bringing with them nearly 11,100 family members.

Ramstein Air Base is a great example of international collaboration: designed by French engineers, constructed by Germans and operated by Americans. Construction of the 3,000-acre base began in April 1951 under the provisions of a Franco-American reciprocal agreement, as the surrounding area was under French postwar occupational control at the time.

The building of a major airfield came as no surprise to the local inhabitants who were no strangers to airpower. The World War II Luftwaffe had converted a section of the local autobahn into an airstrip at the beginning of World War II. The airstrip was also used by the advancing U.S. Army Air Forces during the final months of the conflict.

Enough construction was completed by 1952 that Landstuhl Air Base was opened on 5 August 1952. On 1 June 1953 Ramstein Air Base was opened. Landstuhl Air Base was built as an operational Air Base with the runway, control tower, ramps and other flight-related facilities and the associated flying and support units. Ramstein Air Base, on the north of Kisling Memorial Avenue was the location of Headquarters, Twelfth Air Force, and supported family housing, base exchange, commissary, dependents' schools and other administrative offices.

On 1 February 1952, Det 1, 86th Fighter-Bomber Wing arrived at Landstuhl Air Base from Neubiberg Air Base. On 27 April 1953, Headquarters, Twelfth Air Force was activated on Ramstein Air Base. The 86th Air Base Group was activated as the main base support unit for Landstuhl, while the 7030th HQ Support Group was the main base support unit for Ramstein.

On 1 December 1957, the two bases were consolidated into the largest NATO-controlled air base on serve at the continent. It was called Ramstein-Landstuhl Air Base, but later, through common usage, came by its present name, Ramstein Air Base in 1958.

One legacy of the two separate air bases was that the north side of Ramstein retained a separate APO from the south side. The north side (Ramstein AB) was APO New York 09012, while the south side (Landstuhl AB) was APO New York 09009. Also separate Combat Support Groups, the 7030th for the north side, and the 86th for the south side existed. These were consolidated in the 1980's when APO AE 09094 was established as a unified postal address, and the two Combat Support units were merged into the 377th Combat Support Wing.

About 10 minutes from the current Ramstein Air Base is the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, operated by the United States Army. Although part of the Kaiserslautern Military Community, LRMC has a separate history and was never a part of Ramstein or Landstuhl Air Bases, although both facilities have utilized the medical facilities at LRMC since they were established in 1953.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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