The Berlin Crisis

By SM Ssgt Wilbur Tackaberry

Erection of the Berlin Wall by the Russians signaled the beginning of a new period of international tension. As a deterrent to spread of Russian influence beyond the divided city, the United States Government made plans to recall and deploy selected Air National Guard Units to augment NATO Forces within the troubled area.

The 131st Tactical Fighter Wing was participating in Summer Field Training Exercise at Volk Field, Wisc. in the summer of 1961, when word was received that recall of the unit was imminent .

Upon return to St. Louis the unit was officially notified that the effective date of recall would be October 1, 1961 for a period not to exceed one year. Immediate steps were taken to prepare aircraft, air crews, support personnel and equipment for overseas movement.

October 1, 1961 was a cold, dreary, and windy day as the unit stood in mass formation and was formally recalled to active Federal service with designation as the 713st Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional). For some members of the unit, who had seen World War II and Korean Conflict service, this would be a third recall. Photo: Capt. Robert MacDonnald departs for France in a F-84 (Thunderstreak). [Enlarged Photo]

In late October, maintenance personnel comprising the initial support teams departed Robertson Air National Guard Base aboard C-124 aircraft for the long flight overseas. Their destination, Toul-Rosieres Air Force Base, France.

As I recall, one of my associates, Sgt. Truman Jondro of the Weapons Section was perhaps a bit disillusioned upon learning of his destination. As a member of the regular Air Force he had completed his enlistment with a tour of duty at Toul-Rosieres, had returned to his home in St. Louis, enlisted in the Air National Guard and was once again returning to France.

The 110th aircraft departed McGuire on Oct 30th for Harmon AFB, Newfoundland.

Flights were spaced throughout the day along with other fighter units from Alabama, New Jersey, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts.

Photo: Col Harold Norman, Arthur Schenk, Col Bill Cannon, Norman Shyken.

Pilots were given crew rest, fed special diets and then most critical leg of the flight from Harmon to Lajes Field, Azores, a distance of 1460 nautical miles. Aircraft departed Lajes for Moron, Spain on November 2 and to the destination at Toul-Rosieres, France on the following day.

The Wing immediately became a part of the United States Air Force Europe (USAFE) and assumed regular commitments on a training basis with the U.S. 7th Army as well as maintaining a 24-hour alert status. Col Walter J. Weihe commanded the deployed Wing elements.

During ceremonies at Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France on December 20, 1962, commanded of the 110th was assumed by Maj. John D. Connnaghan from Lt. Col. Robert L. Smith who had held the position since 1956.

The 110th participated in the NATO Squadron Exchange program and exchanged both Air and Ground Crews with the 730th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Skydstrup Air Station, Denmark during May 1962.

Wives and families of a number of personnel came to France and found living quarters at Nancy and other nearby communities. Numerous others came to the area for short visits. For all personnel it presented an excellent opportunity to see the European continent. Off duty weekends were utilized for trips to Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Several individuals had the opportunity to participate in a Vatican audience with the Pope.

For me, Memorial Day of 1962 had a personal significance. I was able to visit the grave of my brother Robert, who was a World War II Infantryman, had lost his life at Munich, Germany just six days before the war’s end. Robert is interred in the Military Cemetery at St. Avold, France which is located less than 30 miles from the base at Toul-Rosieres. Several hundred visitors were in attendance for Memorial Day services.

As the Berlin situation subsided, all recalled units were ordered to be returned to the United States and released from active duty arriving at Lambert Field on July 19, 1962.

August 20, 1962 formal demobilization ceremonies were conducted at Lambert Field.

Family awaiting returning guardsmen from France, 1962, Lambert Field. [Enlargement]

Joe Dubuque and Forrest Cook (marking container) 1962.


Mo National Guard troops landing in Gulfport Ms for a chemical exercise.

Troops returning from Berlin Crisis Call Up 1962.

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