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German mayor, commanders celebrate 50th SW heritage

SCHRIEVER AFB, Colo. -- The mayor of Kirchberg, Germany, joined the 50th Space Wing commander and the last 50th Tactical Fighter Wing commander in celebrating the heritage of the 50th SW during a ceremony in the DeKok building here Sept. 15.

The Honorable Carsten Koppke has been mayor of Kirchberg for 25 years, a town that once hosted Hahn Air Base, Germany. Maj. Gen. (ret.) Nordie Norwood served as 50th TFW commander at Hahn until the wing’s inactivation Sept. 30, 1991. On Jan. 1, 1992, the inactive 50th TFW became the 50th SW and was activated on Jan. 30, 1992.

Mayor Koppke’s 14th visit to the United States closely marks the 14th Anniversary of the 50th TFW’s inactivation.

He remarked it was special celebrating the 50th’s heritage with the last commander of the 50th TFW in a building named for the first commander of the 50th SW, Lt. Gen. Roger DeKok.

The mayor presented a book he co-authored on the history of the 50th TFW and Hahn AB to Col. John Hyten, 50th SW commander. He wrote the book because he did not want the fond memories the Germans and Americans shared to be lost. Mayor Koppke also presented a plate with the town crest of Hahn, Germany, to Colonel Hyten. The crest is unique because it has a silhouette of an F-16 Falcon, the last plane flown at Hahn AB, in its center.

Mayor Koppke was recently asked at a celebration of his 25 years in office what his saddest day as mayor has been.

“The day that General Norwood left with the last 16 American troops was the saddest day of my working life,” he said.

The former air base has been transformed into a civilian airport, and there are hopes of it becoming an annex of the Frankfurt airport 60 miles away.

Colonel Hyten presented a two-volume set of books on Air Force space history to the mayor.

“The history of the wing is extremely important to us,” said Colonel Hyten. “We are continuing the traditions of the 50th TFW – just a little higher up.”