Active Duty In France


I served on active duty during the berlin recall of 1961-1962. I was assigned to the 138th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TACFRON) NYANG. our location was Phalsbourg, France. This soon became to be named Foulsburg by everyone there. With good reason. As I recall, the base was built in 1955 and on a standby basis as part of NATO. Phalsbourg is on the linguistic frontier of France. By this I mean that a few miles to the west of the town, the language was entirely French. To the east, the official language was French, but the everyday language of the people was a German dialect. This location had changed nationalities many times over centuries due to the many wars fought in that region. Though at about 46 degrees N. Latitude, the weather was not too cold in the winter, though there was some snow. Summer was warm but not hot. Since the base was built on what we here would call a mesa, there was nothing to stop the winds, which were frequent, from blowing in from the east as I recall.

The Berlin Recall was not a shooting war. I call it a bit of political saber rattling to counter the Russian building of the Berlin wall starting in August of 1961. When I joined the Guard, I knew there was some risk of being activated, but in my ignorance I thought if things got so bad that the National Guard had to be called out, we were most likely into WWIII and would all be nuked out anyway. I was wrong. We did have some deaths, mostly a few pilots on training missions who probably got confused when flying over the Mediterranean as to what was sky, and what was ocean. Duty called and I answered.

There was some confusion when we arrived, but not much as things were pretty well arranged. One problem was that there was overcrowding in the enlisted barracks. Also, since this was a temporary assignment, there was no allowance for married housing, even for officers. Some officers, and also enlisteds with the financial means did bring their family over and found a place to live at their own expense. However, the base did own or have access to vacant married housing units. These were duplex 3 bedroom one level condo type buildings. the rule was that only staff sergeants and above could qualify for a unit if they could get 5 people to go apply. Four of the sergeants in the Comptrollers office wanted to get a unit and asked me if I wanted in, if my captain would OK it. This was easily done and I now had an off base home, as it were. A bus picked us us in the morning, and took us back at night. Not that much different from civilian life really. I woke up, got dressed in my blue uniform, ate, took the bus to work and returned at night. We were located within easy walking distance of the nearest town, Sarrebourg which had a good sized train station, stores, restaurants, a movie theater, etc. The population was then about 10,000 as I recall. Movies were in French or German, but admission was only about 40 cents in 1961 money. So, pretty good I thought, though there were some of the guys on the base who never left it. It was little America to them, but I enjoyed the access to the town, and learned enough German to get by on a simple basis.

So, I think this enough for one post. More to follow later on what I did and how Marge and I kept in touch.



About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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