Sembach Air Base, Germany
Origin of current name: Named after a village in the Federal Republic of Germany
Date current name was assigned to base: April 15, 1953
Previous Names: Flughafen Sembach, 1939; Sembach Air Aux Fld, 1 Sep 1952.
Date Established: September 1, 1952
Date Occupied: April 5, 1953
Construction Began: September 1, 1952
Base Units: 7355th AB Sq, 5 Apr 1953; 66th AB Gp, 7 Jul 1953; 7127th Spt Gp, 18 Jun 1958; 38th AB Gp, 1 Sep 1959; 603d AB Wg, 25 Sep 1966; 601st Cmbt Spt Gp, 1 Jul 1968; 7400th AB Gp, 1 Jun 1973; 601st Cmbt Spt Gp, 1 Jan 1976
Changes in Capability: French occupation forces surveyed and prepared the first airfield at Sembach in 1919; field served as French flying field until about 1930; thereafter land returned to German agricultural use; Luftwaffe began construction at the site in early 1940, but French defeated before Sembach construction had been completed; base returned to agricultural use in Jun 1940; after World War II French again assumed control over the area and began construction of hangars, hard-stands, taxiways, tower, and other facilities required for an operational air base; 8,500-ft concrete runway poured Jun 1951 and other structures completed by the end of that year; base intended for U.S. use and acquired by USAFE in 1953; base supported RB-26 and RF-80 reconnaissance operations, 8 Jul 1953; Sembach became a Matador (later, Mace) missile base on 2 Jun 1956; aircraft operations declined in 1958-1959; the 38th Tac Msl Wg arrived from Hahn AB, making Sembach the Air Force's primary missile base in Europe on 1 Sep 1959; flying mission resumed with the assignment of the 7th Air Commando Sq in Jul 1964; missile function terminated with activation of the 603d AB Wg as host unit at Sembach on 25 Sep 1966; HQ Seventeenth AF moved from Ramstein to Sembach in Oct 1972; since Jun 1973 the base has supported HQ Seventeenth AF, the 601st Wg, and numerous assigned and tenant organizations; new base sewage plant constructed, airmen's dormitories renovated, and base dining hall completed, 1973-1975; dependents' school enlarged, and bachelor officers' quarters and a new base fire alarm system added, 1975-1976; the Hochspeyer munitions storage facility, with 21 earth-covered storage igloo structures, completed and the base runways resurfaced, 1978-1979; major base facilities hardened, a bowling center built, and a new NATO-sponsored lighting system installed, 1981-1982.
Effective 1 April, 1995, Sembach Air Base became an annex of Ramstein Air Base and is thus referred to as the Sembach Annex.
Effective 1 Oct 2010, the Air Force handed over control of Sembach Annex to the US Army, who then renamed the site Sembach Kaserne. Sembach Kaserne is part of what is called the Kaiserslautern Military Community [KMC]. It is used for housing American Army military personnel. As of 2007, The housing developments and dormitories are declared condemned by the Air Force and are not currently occupied by any Air Force personnel; however, the US Army continues to house soldiers in the dormitory complexes. The facility has a commissary, elementary/middle school, fire station, four baseball/softball fields and a football field.
During the Cold War, (1950–1993) Sembach Air Base housed a variety of USAF Tactical Reconnaissance, Close-Air Support and Tactical Air Control units as a front line NATO air base.
Sembach's origins date back to 1919 after World War I when French occupation troops used the eastern half of the present flightline as an airfield. The French facilities consisted of 10 sheet-iron barracks and 26 wooden hangars with canvas coverings.
As part of the general withdrawal of French occupation forces from the left bank of the Rhine in 1930, the French abandoned the airfield on June 15, 1930. After the French withdrawal, the land was returned to farmers and used as a hayfield.
In 1939, the German Luftwaffe ordered that the area be reserved for use as a fighter base. Because of the brevity of the French campaign in the first year of the Second World War, the area was returned to the farmers to be used as a pasture in June 1940.
In 1950, as a result of the Cold War threat of the Soviet Union, the United States was rapidly expanding its air forces, announcing an increase in the number of combat wings from 48 in 1950 to 95 by June 1952.
In April 1951, German surveyors visited the area in the company of French officers. The local farmers protested the construction of a hard-surface airfield which would entail the loss of much of their land, and they demonstrated in Mainz, the capital of the Rhineland-Palatinate. Despite this vigorous opposition, the French occupational authorities began the construction of a modern airfield at the end of June 1951.
Although the Air Base was constructed in the French Zone of Occupation under French direction, it was built to be used by NATO forces and was, moreover, intended to be an American Air Base from the beginning. On 1 September 1951, U.S. authorities officially took over the construction site from the French and named it Sembach Air Auxiliary Field.
The American flag first flew at Sembach Air Base on 8 July 1953. On that day, at 1045 hours, the first of 18 RB-26 Invader aircraft belonging to the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (TRW) landed on the new flightline, arriving from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. With the arrival of the 66th TRW, the installation was renamed Sembach Air Base.
In 1995 the Sembach flightline was returned to German control. The site became an annex of Ramstein Air Base and was renamed Sembach Annex.
In the summer of 1998, the German government started to dismantle the airfield runway, returning the ownership of the airfield area to local governments. The remaining facilities of Sembach AB are situated 2 miles away from the former airfield, with only a few tenant units remaining.
On 1 Oct 2010, the US Air Force handed over control of Sembach Annex to the US Army, effectively renaming the annex Sembach Kaserne. Kaserne, being German for "Barracks".