Air Force closes Prüm Air Station weather program

By MARNI MCENTEE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 27, 2004

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Mission complete.

That’s the word from the Air Force communications team at Prüm Air Station north of Bitburg, which will end its Global Weather Intercept Program next month.

Since 1991, the radio operators collected foreign-broadcasted weather data and relayed it to the Air Force Weather Agency. It had been a remote unit of Spangdahlem Air Base since 2000.

Because the weather agency can now get that high-frequency radio data from German sources and improved satellite sources, the Air Force decided to end the Prüm mission, said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Rogers of the 52nd Communications Squadron. Rogers and two other airmen were the only U.S. military members at the base. At its peak, the weather program office had 35 airmen.

Rogers and his team have been moving their equipment out for a couple of weeks. By the end of May, the U.S. military will be but a memory at Prüm Air Station, which is about nine miles from the Belgian border.

“If it’s not plugged in or bolted down we’re tearing it out and getting rid of it,” Rogers said.

About 20 pieces of communication gear, high-frequency antennas and 20 equipment racks will go to the military’s reuse facility or be sent to Robins Air Force Base, Ga., he said.

The U.S. military took over Prüm Air Station in the early ’50s and used the base to house a number of Army and Air Force units.

Over the years, use dwindled and the weather program was the last vestige at the run down base, Rogers said. When it closes, the buildings are likely to revert back to the German government.

Rogers said he commuted 45 minutes each way from his Bitburg home.

But he enjoyed the autonomy of his duties.

“It was one of those hidden assignments,” Rogers said.

With the closure of Prüm, Spangdahlem’s 52nd Fighter Wing oversees 15 remote units, a base spokesman said.

Tech Sgt. Joseph Rogers, of the 52nd Communication Squadron, pulls out a high frequency radio receiver from a rack at Prüm Air Station, Germany, on Friday. The mission at Prüm recently ended, and the installation is slated to close this summer.

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