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Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 9:38pm
Fort Bliss (U.S. Army) — After almost five decades here, the German Air Force Command, U.S. and Canada, disbanded and said their goodbyes to Fort Bliss and El Paso.
“As the 16th and last commander of the German Air Force Command U.S. and Canada [located here at Fort Bliss] … I say good bye and wish you all good luck,” said Col. Heinz-Josef Ferkinghoff, commander of the GAFC USA/CAN. “We, the German Air Force Command U.S. and Canada feel honored to have you here with us…your presence here tonight is a testimony of the long lasting friendship and excellent cooperation between the United States and Germany.”
The GAFC US/CAN, hosted a deactivation and transfer of authority ceremony here, Sept. 26 to commemorate many years of training and cooperation.
“With tonight’s disbanding ceremony, an era of 47 years will come to an end,” said Ferkinghoff.
“We always felt welcome and integrated into this great community. We thank you for your generous support and excellent cooperation.”
Since the 1950’s, German forces have been working with U.S. forces in training for battle. The GAFC begin training on air-defense at Fort Bliss in the 1960s. During that time, cohesion, camaraderie, and friendships were made.
“German airman received high quality training that has been recognized, said Brig. Gen. Hasso Kortge, commander of the GAFC US/CAN, in Reston, Va. “Fort Bliss and El Paso is where many German personnel and their families have created fond memories. They have formed friendships, through which they feel a deep connection with this place and its people.”
Approximately 10,000 German airmen trained here and more than 50,000 German airman received training under this command over the years.
“After 47 eventful and successful years, the presence of our very special German Air Force agency headquartered here in El Paso, is now coming to an end,” said Kortge. “We are thankful for so many years of rock solid cooperation with the U.S. Air Force and Army, [and will continue so] with the remaining personnel transferring to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.”
The GAFC US/CAN disbanded as part of a German restructuring of forces. But the personnel, who have not yet returned to Germany, will continue training at Holloman AFB.
During the ceremony Maj. Gen. (S) Werner Weisenburger, commander of the German Armed Forces Office of Germany, transferred command of the units station in the U.S. and Canada to Lt. Gen. Martin Richard Schelleis, commander of the German Air Force Operation Forces Command of Germany.
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