April 05, 2005
I wasn't "on the scene", but I was dealing with several wives who's husbands were. I had several airmen (generic term includes women too) who worked for me, there that day doing crowd and traffic control.
Gordon Tatro, who has generously shared his reconstruction and photographs of the aftermath, passes along this link to a new website posted by Roland Fuchs, a German gentleman who lost his wife and 5 year old daughter at the Ramstein Flugtag that day. Included on the site are photos of his family, the day itself, the actual crashes, and the monument and memorial that have since been erected to honor those who died. This photograph shows clearly the list of names of the Flugtag casualties, and underscores just how many young victims there were.
That image is permenatly burned in my head.
Posted by: Russ at April 05, 2005 05:53 PM (ObxzR)
Posted by: Tuning Spork at April 06, 2005 11:16 PM (FX1pt)
You could see during the pierced heart stunt, the solo pilot seemed to be coming in hot, and in a split second there was a fireball, and the plane tumbled into the crowd. In hindsight, some of the crowd were spared because of the mound of gravel behind the impact area which we used for rapid runway battle damage repair was loaded with people. Had the truck not been there, a whole lot more would have been killed or injured. I immediately ran to the control tower and told the German announcer to ask the people to remain calm and clear the impact area using the MAC ramp which was north (I believe) of the impact site. I then ran the 200 or so yards down to the impact site. That took all of six or seven minutes. As I ran, I recall one particular man who's head was swollen perhaps a third larger than normal, it was burning, he was stagering away from the smoke and flames.
MSgt. Tatro's photo's bring back a lot of negative memories. I expect he took them the morning after. There was a young child I found under the red truck horribly burned. Colonel Cash Harris, I and a couple of other airmen had to try and move it trying to get to the kid. The tires were burned and we tried to roll it on the wheels. I had to jump in and move the shifter to get it out of gear. The child was still barely breathing. There was no way he would survive.
A lot of things happend that day. I found part of one pilot, at least a third of him, and also his pelvis. My EOD crew combed the crash site weckage for the ejection seats, and parts thereof, that had to be safed (live charges still in the seats). We had Bob Kalcevic running around worried that people might see the bodies and ordered up a 40 foot flatbed to load them on before we had a chance to map out the scene and try and match body parts to the bodies they belonged to.
It was a long, long night, and Colonel Bill Eckert at the onsite CP was absolutely awesome. He kept everyone together in the middle of a disaster. What was a nigtmare day turned into perhaps six weeks agony for our Wing and especially its people. The smell at the temporary morgue at the base gym, the Doc's trying to identify who they have when you don't know who was there in the first place? Then there was MSgt. Sharon Lucy at the base theater, trying to contact every person stationed at Ramstein who was not accounted for, despite the fact that her new convertable was damaged at the crash site and couldn't be moved for weeks because of the investigation. Our cops, who chalked tires to see if the vehicles they belonged to had moved, and then running the plates to see if the owner was a victim. To this day, I am so proud of every one of them.
Sometime after the incident, one of my EOD guys, Danny Churillo took a shotgun out of the safe at the EOD shop, and shot himself. I believe he was a victim of Flugtag, and that really haunts me.
There is so much more that most people don't know. I sat on the fundraising committee for the Community that raised thousands of dollars for the relief of the families of the victims and I even put together the Ramstein Bon Jovi Flugtag concert. Our hearts went out to each and every victim of Flugtag. That's part of the story too.
I retired from active duty a while back, but now teach high school Air Force JROTC and wear the uniform every day. I have a uniform jacket with blood stains on my old Chief stripes from 28 August, 1988. I still look at that jacket, all the time.
Posted by: Cmd. CMSgt. Thom Lustik at May 19, 2005 07:00 PM (ywZa8)
Posted by: Tommy Johnson at May 20, 2005 05:17 AM (MIP1f)
Posted by: tammy at October 28, 2005 01:36 PM (zi1Dw)
Posted by: casquebydre at July 18, 2011 12:56 PM (9l/J4)
Posted by: Cameror at August 10, 2011 07:46 AM (HGPsA)
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