Joining while living abroad

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United States Air Force Europe, basic training, 1951, Sonthofen, Germany

In late August 1951 fellow “Army brat” Van C. and I decided to join the Air Force in Germany. Both of us were recent high school grads– Van from Munich, and I from Nurnberg. There were no recruiting offices. It was all word of mouth from Frankfurt or Wiesbaden.
We departed the Bahnhof in Bamberg where we were living to Sonthofen. Sonthofen is located in an enclave in southwestern Bavaria near the Swiss and Austrian borders. The United States Air Force Europe (USAFE) basic training was conducted in Ordensburg Sonthofen a Kaswerne, known as Burg Sonthofen. Burg Sonthofen had originally been constructed as a school known as the Adolf Hitler Schule to train youthful candidates for leadership within the Nazi party.
Our class, which was the third USAFE class at Sonthofen, included recruits from throughout England, Germany, France, Spain, Norway and Sweden. We were a mixed trendy lot, doing our marching, some in uniforms and boots, others in civilian clothes and shoes.
The English language was a problem for many, and, as stated in the Air Force unit history, was one reason for the close of the USAFE. After graduating only 143 recruits in Sonthofen, the program moved in March 1952 to Royal Air Force Station Sealand, Wales, England, Here, too, the program failed, with only 200 recruits passing through Sealand. Between language problems and lack of recruits, USAFE inactivated this basic training program March 31, 1953.
Both Van and I went on to retire as AF Master Sergeants.

Branch of Service:
Air Force


United States Air Force Europe, basic training, 1951, Sonthofen, Germany

Submitted by:
Peter Lurvey, Peoria, Ariz.

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