FBI dedicates staging facility at Ramstein to former agent
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The FBI dedicated a new staging facility at Ramstein Air Base on Friday to one of its own, a former agent killed by the terrorists he passionately pursued.
FBI agents honored the late John P. O’Neill — known for his work ethic, passion for the job and his vision of how to combat terrorism at home and abroad — by naming the 4,000-square-foot base warehouse after him.
O’Neill served as an agent for 25 years and passed through Ramstein numerous times as he worked on some of the FBI’s biggest overseas cases. He was serving as director of security for New York’s World Trade Center when he was killed in the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers. He had retired from the FBI and was on the job less than two weeks before the attack.
Charles Frahm, director of the Strategic Operational Planning Element for the National Counter Terrorism Center in Virginia, worked with O’Neill many times and described his work ethic as legendary. He also had an uncanny ability to network and connect with people from all backgrounds.
“This man had a presence like no other,” Frahm said.
O’Neill saw and understood the threat of terrorism from overseas, especially al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, long before many others did, former colleagues said.
The building, tucked away in a small area of the base surrounded by trees, will be a stopping point for agents responding to a terrorist attack or other major incident. Frahm, who had discussed the creation of such a facility with O’Neill, said the building will allow agents to deploy to any hot spot in Africa, the Middle East or Europe two days faster than before.
The building is packed with forensic gear, from sifting screens to rubber gloves. It also has power generators, communication equipment and trauma packs for doctors who deploy with 150-agent Rapid Deployment Teams, said Thomas Hansen, a retired FBI agent who now serves as a logistician for the bureau.
The FBI has used Ramstein before, but never had its own space. After the 2001 attacks, the FBI began looking at establishing staging facilities at bases in Germany and Guam.