Staff Sgt. Kevin Cloyd rinses the nose art on a static C-47 on display at the Berlin Airlift Memorial site of the former Rhein Main Air Base near Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. Sergeant Cloyd and a team of approximately 30 volunteers from Ramstein AB spent three days cleaning the display aircraft for refurbishing in preparation for a Berlin Airlift 60th Anniversary Celebration to take place there in June. Sergeant Cloyd is an aircraft maintenance crew chief at Ramstein AB. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Corey Clements)
Staff Sgt. Federico Hudson cleans the nose art on a static C-54 aircraft on display at the Berlin Airlift Memorial site at the former Rhein Main Air Base near Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. Sergeant Hudson and a team of approximately 30 volunteers from Ramstein AB spent three days cleaning the display aircraft for refurbishing in prepartion for a Berlin Airlift 60th Anniversary Celebration to take place there in June. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Corey Clements)
by Tech. Sgt. Corey Clements
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs
4/25/2008 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN) -- Approximately 30 Airmen from Ramstein Air Base volunteered approximately 260 total man-hours to help restore the Berlin Airlift Memorial site at the former Rhein Main AB near Frankfurt International Airport in Germany April 22-24.
Airmen teamed up with volunteer employees from Luftansa Technik, the maintenance company for Lufthansa Airlines, and washed, scrubbed and rinsed the faded and soiled C-54 Skymaster and C-47 Skytrain aircraft on display there.
"It was a great opportunity coming down here to participate in taking care of our history and our heritage," said Senior Master Sgt. Todd Piazza of Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe who led the team of Airmen volunteers.
"We wanted to make sure we had a good representation of different career fields getting to participate in this, because we know during the Berlin Airlift it wasn't just pilots and maintainers that worked it, it was everybody as a team that made that happen and we wanted everybody, as a team, to be a part of this project," he said.
Fraport AG, the company who manages Frankfurt International Airport, organized and funded the bulk of the clean-up and restoration of the memorial to prepare for a Berlin Airlift 60th anniversary celebration to take place there on June 26.
Fraport AG spokesperson Professor Dieter Weirich said the company thought it would be a good idea to give the U.S. Air Force the opportunity to take part in the project.
"We are very grateful to the American General Consulate and the American air force in Ramstein that they supported us [throughout with the idea] and with this practical support today," he said.
The Airmen were excited to have the opportunity to help.
"It's great to be a part of it because of the history of these aircraft during the Berlin Airlift and to help clean them up for the celebration in June," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Cloyd, a maintenance crew chief from the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron.
Each day a different group of Airmen volunteers were on site. A core team of the volunteers that included safety, bioenvironmental, and aircraft maintenance quality assurance personnel were on site each of the three days to ensure the Airmen worked safely.
"One plane was pretty black and it's supposed to be a silver-grey color, so we were out there using hand scrubbing brushes and scouring pads -- a lot of scrubbing and hard work," said Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Breur, a HQs USAFE aircraft maintenance specialist.
"It was cool working with the Germans and cleaning up a little piece of history, pretty awesome, to work on the older planes especially since we work on new ones and to see some different stuff," said Staff Sgt. Jeramiah Yurick, a maintenance crew chief from the 723rd AMS.
While the Airmen helped with the manual labor of brushing, scrubbing and rinsing and Luftansa Technik handled the technical restoration like sheet metal work and painting, the working relation between the volunteer groups was dynamic.
"I'm very happy to be here now with the people of the United States to help clean the planes. And I find it very interesting to speak with them in English and to work with them, said volunteer Miguel Hiller," a Lufthansa Technik mechanic and German citizen. "They work very hard and quickly, and they are very interested to help us and in the history too."
On June 26, 1948, the Berlin Airlift officially began to provide food, fuel and medicine to 2.5 million West Berliners cut-off from the world by a Soviet Union imposed blockade of all surface transportation.
Two days later the USAFE commander organized a dedicated airlift force to carry out Operation Vittles.
Aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Navy and the Royal Air Force formed a combined airlift task force.
Eventually a fleet of 200-300 C-54s formed the backbone of this force and by its end in Sept. 1949, 277,264 flights had been conducted, delivering in excess of 2.3 million tons of food and supplies.
The "lift" was the greatest peacetime airlift operation in history.