John Cardenas’ Hahn

John Cardenas

The following article was sent to me by S/Sgt. Max Quitiquit, USAF, who was at Hahn in 1987-91 time frame.  I thought this would fit nicely into this page.  I hope John will forgive me for using his page.  Joe Perkins

I was running the 50 CES/Det-1 Structures Shop (a fancy way of saying combined carpenter/mason/sheet metal/paint shop) at Wueschheim Air Station. Wueschheim AS was about a dozen miles away from Hahn Air Base, near the town of Kastellaun.  The 38th Tactical Missile Wing was the host unit there. The wing commander had found out that there was a Matador missile static display at a place called Rittersdorf and wanted our civil engineering detachment to move it to Wuesccheim. This missile was mounted on a pedestal in a lonely place that was totally obscured by trees and brush. The missile was really filthy, with streaks of years of grime and flaking paint. I suppose at one time it had been in a place of honor at one time, but now no one could see it, much less care about it. There were some U.S. Army troops using some really decrepit buildings nearby, but they didn’t even know it existed.  We cleared enough of a path to get a crane close enough to lift the missile off the old pedestal.  First though, the bolts holding the missile onto the pedestal had to be removed. This required that I had to remove a panel and crawl inside.  It was a little bit eerie crawling inside this thing that had been sealed up for who knows how long, but I got over it once I had to do battle with the old, rusty hardware. It was quite a job to get enough leverage to work the wrench inside the confined space of the fuselage, but I finally managed it. Once the missile was loose, it had to be broken down to be transported on the German roads.  This required that the wings and rudder to be separated from the fuselage.  Then the fuselage was lifted by the crane onto a 40 foot flatbed trailer into a wooden cradle we had built to secure it, so the fuselage wouldn’t be damaged while transporting it. Then it was covered with a canvas tarpaulin and secured with tie-down straps. Oh boy! What a sight that was! The Matador had looked like an aircraft, however, without its wings and rudder, underneath a tarpaulin, its appearance was really transformed.  It now looked to all the world that we now had a ballistic missile instead of a Matador.  I’m sure that’s what anyone thought that saw it being transported that day.  Well, we made it back to Wueschheim without any serious problems and then the missile maintenance troops took over. They did a really excellent job in refurbishing the old missile.  Corroded parts were replaced, dents straightened, surfaces repainted.  The wing had a new missile!  A new pedestal was constructed and it was mounted near the entrance of the GAMA (G.L.C.M. Alert and Maintenance Area).  It was good to see the old Matador had been rescued from obscurity and put back in a place of honor as one of the original ancestors of U.S. cruise missiles. I hope its still in good shape, Wueschheim AS reverted back to German control after the G.L.C.M. weapon system was negotiated away under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.  The rest of the nearby USAF personnel left when Hahn AB closed shortly after, under the Conventional Forces Europe (CFE) treaty.  If anyone ever gets out there, it’d be nice if they could check up on it, maybe get a photo even. [previous] [next]

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