"The Gateway to Europe" since its inception in 1946, Rhein Main has been the place where Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen flying to Europe
or points beyond landed. Located in Frankfurt
, the base is named after the two rivers that cross nearby, the Main
(pronounced "mine") and The Rhein
It was originally used for Zeppelins in the early 1900's, until the end of that era brought about by the Hindenburg explosion in 1937. It was converted to a military base by the Nazis in 1940, where it was used for fighter aircraft. Some of the early jet test flights took off from there. The allies
bombed the living shit out of it conducted heavy bombing raids on the facility towards the end of WWII, and took it over at the end of the war.
One of the most notable missions that Rhein Main was heavily involved in was the Berlin Airlift. In 1948, the Soviet Union sealed off West Berlin from the rest of the country (West Berlin was a political, social, and economic island in East Germany during the Cold War), forcing the US to either leave West Berlin or find some way to supply the city. The US chose to provide everything the city needed by air, and thousands of flights left Rhein Main and flew to Berlin, bringing food, coal, and other supplies to keep the city alive for over a year until the blockade was dropped.
Other notable operations that relied on the base a a key logistics point include Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (they have separate names, but one was simply a continuation of the other logistically.) The base sent massive amounts of men, women, and materials "downrange", and upwards of 10 C-5 aircraft could be seen parked at the base at any one time. Rhen Main was also heavily involved in the subsequent support efforts of Provide Promise, Provide Comfort, and similar missions. The base was also involved in Operation Joint Endeavor, moving forces to the Croatia and Bosnia area.
In 1993, base officials announced plans to draw down to half the size and reduce the active duty force by more than two-thirds. Rhein-Main completed its drawdown in 1995. Today, it is a ghost town compared to its heyday, with roughly 3,000 airmen stationed there. The base is scheduled to be completely turned over to the Germans in 2005.
For more info about Rhein Main Airbase today:http://www.rheinmain.af.mil/aboutus.htm
For more info on the Berlin Airlift: http://www.usafe.af.mil/berlin/berlin.htm