H A H N Air Base , G E R M A N Y
313th Tactical Fighter Squadron
22 May 1979 to 1 June 1982
Of all the assignments I had during my Air Force career Hahn was the one I enjoyed most of all. There were so many exciting things to see and do. From the moment that I first got off the airplane at Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany until I returned there to catch the flight back to the states three years later there was always something interesting happening.
The fun began as soon as we departed the base heading for Hahn. We were on the autobahn (the equivalent of the Interstate highways in the states) and the speedometer showed we were doing 120 and cars were just zipping by. I soon learned that 120 was kilometers per hour and we were actually doing about 75 miles per hour. As we were traveling along the autobahn I kept seeing these signs saying AUSFAHRT and thinking to myself that they had special places to go just to fart. Wasn't long before I deduced that it meant EXIT. I decided on the drive to Hahn that I was going to learn to speak the German Language while we were in Germany. One of the first things I did upon my arrival was to sign up for a German course.
Liz, Doug, Sue and Debi could not join me in Germany until I found suitable housing. Basically I took the first place that I found that seemed large enough and it was in Biebern. Soon we were all together again and discovered that we were the only Americans living in the village located about 10 kilometers from Hahn. The house was quite large and the only disadvantage was the heating system which consisted of individual units which would occasionally backfire and belch black soot everywhere. Additionally the fuel for them was very expensive and difficult to control the temperature. We ended up using electrical heaters in the bathroom and kitchen most of the time, but that was even more expensive. It was really such a pain that as much as we disliked the thought we added our name to the base housing list.
A small room off the kitchen contained a large alcove with a street view where we displayed our Christmas village that year and a smaller alcove to the side of the house toward our neighbors barn. Very early one morning Susan, Debi and I were looking out the side window when a gigantic pig was being led into the barn. The next thing we saw was the farmer slashing the pigs throat and putting a bullet in the brain just as the farmer's wife waved to us. Blood was gushing everywhere and the two girls eyes were bulging. Several minutes later the wife came over to them and presented them with the pig tail as a gesture of friendship.
One of the neighbors from the next street walked his dog past our house every morning and I would always say hi as he passed. Each day I would try a little more German with him and he would answer in English. He had lived in Detroit for five years when he was younger. On several occasions I visited with him at his home and consumed several lagers each time. One night he came over to visit accompanied by his dog. We were all on the second floor and I told him to come on up. We had been chatting for around 15 minutes when all of a sudden his dog lunged at our dog and a fight ensued. He picked up his dog and threw it out the second story window apologizing profusely with embarrassment.
The next morning we heard a gunshot from the direction of his home and never saw him walking the dog again.
THE SEPTIC SYSTEM
The septic tank was of the honey bucket variety. Out in the back yard by our barn I had attached a basketball net where Doug and his friend Larry were shooting hoops. Larry was trying out an NBA slam dunk and landed square on the wooden cover which promptly gave way and Larry sunk it up to his hips. I quickly called his mother Monica on the phone to come and get her smelly kid. No more basketball was played that day or until the landlord reinforced the lid.
Several years before we went to Germany I had made some German friends strictly through correspondence and wanted to look them up when we arrived in their country. One couple lived about an hour away and we made arrangements to meet. Liz and I drove to their city and found their apartment with no problem. The husband answered the door and with much consternation we discovered that he did not speak English and that his wife had been writing all the correspondence to me. Until she arrived home about an hour later all our exchanges were done by pointing to words in an English-German dictionary. Once she arrived we had a very enjoyable visit and invited them to our house in Biebern for Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving our furniture shipment arrived from the States. I mean that we were glad it arrived but not right then. We had been using furniture borrowed from the base and now had two sets of everything including beds, couches, dressers, everything. A sofa was standing on end in the entranceway and other furniture all the way down the hallway. Can you imagine their reaction when they entered our house. To further make matters worse we had prepared a typical American Thanksgiving banquet with all the trimmings including corn-on-the-cob only to find out that most Germans don't eat corn on the cob because that is animal feed. To save us embarrassment they tried everything and thoroughly enjoyed it. To me the exchange visit was one of the reasons we went to Germany and an experience of a lifetime. By the time of their visit I was able to at least make conversation in their language without the use of the dictionary.
We lived in Biebern for about a year and thankfully were notified by Base Housing that we could move into an off base Government Housing Project that had just been completed in Rhaunen before the cold weather arrived. Luckily for us the unit we were given was on the edge of the complex and we still had Germans for neighbors on the other side of the street. We made friends with them and visited often, on several occasions dining out. Their knowledge of American customs and the English language was very limited. It was very pleasant and unique learning about their customs and enlightening them about ours.
Rhaunen was approximately six miles from the base and one day my wife called and said I better stay on the base overnight. I said "Why, what's the problem?" She said "We've gotten over a foot of snow since you left for work this morning." On base we didn't even have a flurry.
It seemed that once we moved to Rhaunen I was gone a lot on various TDY deployments (I can remember at least six in less than two years and I'll get into them shortly). Every time I was TDY Liz would have car troubles, other times the car ran perfectly. Another problem that surfaced while I was away concerned our two daughters Susan and Debi. Sometime in Georgia they both developed a case of the "light-fingers" and liked to shoplift. This time at a local German store they were caught. The proprietor wanted to prosecute them but my wife convinced her that she would handle the problem and assured her it would never happen again. My wife drove straight from the market to the Air Police Desk Sergeant and told him what the problem was. He immediately placed the two delinquents in a cell, slammed and locked the door. That hour spent in a jail cell gave them plenty of time to think and to our knowledge was their last shoplifting experience.
LUXEMBOURG - March 82
PARIS - April 82
AMSTERDAM - May 82