The Air Base Becomes Fursty


On 29th April 1945, the inva­si­on of the US Army mar­ked the end of World War II for the citi­zens of Fürs­ten­feld­bruck. In its wake, the air base was occu­pied and used as an ope­ra­ting air base by the US Air Force. Cap­tain Wood­worth of the 840th Engi­neer Avia­ti­on Bat­tali­on gave the order to res­to­re the air base site, which had been severely dama­ged in the aeri­al bom­bing in ear­ly April 1945. In the cour­se of the res­to­ra­ti­on, the com­ple­ti­on of the admi­nis­tra­ti­on and accom­mo­da­ti­on faci­li­ties as well as the kit­chen faci­li­ties had prio­ri­ty. In order to build a run­way and a taxi­way, a rail­way con­nec­tion was estab­lished, too. In 1947, the run­way was exten­ded by 300 meters on both sides. Due to the exten­si­on of the air base, pri­va­te owners again lost land when the European Com­mand US Army expro­pria­ted their pro­per­ties. As is com­mon with US Armed Forces sta­tio­ned abroad, a “litt­le USA” was estab­lished. Thus, many resi­den­ti­al buil­dings, the so‐called “Stern­bau­ten“ (star‐shaped buil­dings), a school and a kin­der­gar­ten as well as a church for all deno­mi­na­ti­ons were built. The name “Furs­ty” came into being.

The fluc­tua­ti­on of Ame­ri­can units arri­ving and lea­ving the air base was very high during the post­war years. Thus, from 1948, parts of the 36th Figh­ter Bom­ber Wing (36. Jagd­bom­ber­ge­schwa­der) of the US Air Force had their home here. This bom­ber squa­dron was the first US Air Force unit to be equip­ped with jet air­planes in Euro­pe. During the Ber­lin Cri­sis of 1948/49, various US Air Force units were tem­pora­ri­ly sta­tio­ned in Fürs­ten­feld­bruck. The air base came to play a cen­tral role for the US Armed Forces at the begin­ning of the Korean War in the year 1950. After­wards, until 1956/57, the US Air Force used the air base as a front air­field in the Cold War as well as a trai­ning base for its­elf and its allies. In this con­text, the 7330th Fly­ing Trai­ning Wing, which had been sta­tio­ned here sin­ce the end of 1953/beginning of 1954, play­ed an important role. It was a unit set up in Fürs­ten­feld­bruck under the Mutu­al Defen­se Assi­s­tan­ce Pro­gram (MDAP) pro­vi­ding flight trai­ning also to non‐European allies of the US. After the end of World War II, the USA assu­med its role as a lea­ding nati­on among the colo­ni­al powers for the NATO sta­tes and tem­pora­ri­ly for other coun­tries as well. Colo­nel Mark H. Vinzant, the new com­man­der of the air base, set up a flight trai­ning group. As ear­ly as from 1952/1953, stu­dent pilots from Tur­key, Ita­ly, Iran and Paki­stan were trai­ned in Fürs­ten­feld­bruck and from the mid‐1950s, stu­dent pilots from Por­tu­gal and Spain also recei­ved their trai­ning here. By the end of the MDAP pro­gram in 1956, more than 1,000 jet pilots from 15 NATO sta­tes and Third World coun­tries had com­ple­ted their flight‐instructor trai­ning in Fürs­ten­feld­bruck. On 1st Novem­ber 1957, the air base was taken over by the Air Force of the Federal Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny and was offi­ci­al­ly han­ded over on 14th Decem­ber 1957.

Being depen­dent on the Ame­ri­can occupa­ti­on force, Anton Uhl, appoin­ted as pro­vi­sio­nal mayor by the Ame­ri­cans, and Hans Wach­ter (CSU), first elec­ted mayor, tried to estab­lish a good rela­ti­ons­hip with the Ame­ri­can aut­ho­ri­ties in civil admi­nis­tra­ti­on and at the air base from the begin­ning. Imme­dia­te­ly after the war, their rela­ti­ons­hip was still rather fros­ty. Howe­ver, the num­ber of pro­blems such as housing shor­ta­ge, unem­ploy­ment, a high crime rate and food shor­ta­ge soon made both sides coope­ra­te prag­ma­ti­cal­ly. Despi­te the pre­ce­ding war, the Ame­ri­cans also did their best to estab­lish a fri­end­ly rela­ti­ons­hip to the Ger­mans from the start – to their citi­zens and the town admi­nis­tra­ti­on as well. At the begin­ning of the 1950s, joint housing pro­grams were set up. From July 1952 onwards, a liai­son office for civi­li­an mat­ters of the air base exis­ted at the town hall. One month befo­re, Colo­nel Scott, com­man­der of the air base, had alrea­dy invi­ted mayor Bau­er and other town offi­ci­als to the air base in order to inten­si­fy the German‐American rela­ti­ons­hip. On the other hand, the town coun­cil had to deal with the issue of low level fly­ing at the air base in its mee­ting on 7th May 1956.

At the same time as the air base was taken over by the US Armed Forces, pri­va­te homes and indi­vi­du­al housing com­ple­xes at Werft­sied­lung or at Tul­pen­feld were also occu­pied. In 1946, more than 1,400 civi­li­ans were employ­ed at Furs­ty. Four years later their num­ber had risen to some 2,000 civi­li­ans in char­ge of the main­ten­an­ce and expan­si­on of the air­field. For the citi­zens of Fürs­ten­feld­bruck this meant rela­tively good job and ear­ning pos­si­bi­li­ties in eco­no­mi­c­al­ly dif­fi­cult times. Moreo­ver, many local craft busi­nes­ses bene­fi­ted from orders from the air base. After the end of World War II, the rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween the mem­bers of the US Air Force sta­tio­ned at the air base and the local peop­le was still dif­fi­cult but it gra­dual­ly impro­ved, for examp­le thanks to the German‐Youth‐Association‐Program initia­ted in 1949 orga­ni­zing youth sports fes­ti­vals or reli­ef actions for nee­dy child­ren. Ano­t­her examp­le was “Ope­ra­ti­on Help” by Major Cha­plain Piet­rek in Novem­ber 1952 which invol­ved US Ame­ri­can sol­di­ers and their fami­lies collec­ting food, clo­thes, money and toys for nee­dy Fürs­ten­feld­bruck citi­zens. In 1955, 3,000 trees were plan­ted in the Roth­schwai­ger forest by stu­dents of Bruck and the Ame­ri­can school at the air base in a joint plan­ting event. In addi­ti­on, the “Armed Forces Day” of the US Armed Forces in May 1955 hel­ped brin­ging the civil popu­la­ti­on and the mili­ta­ry clo­ser tog­e­ther. On 5th April 1957, US Cap­tain Richard Higgins who had tech­ni­cal pro­blems on a trai­ning flight saved the peop­le of the town by not ejec­ting over the town area but at its wes­tern end. While the wre­cka­ge of his pla­ne cras­hed down on a mea­dow, Cap­tain Higgins lost his life in the acci­dent. On the initia­ti­ve of for­mer mayor Dr. Fritz Bau­er, a street in the town area of Fürs­ten­feld­bruck was named after the Ame­ri­can jet pilot.

Source infor­ma­ti­on