So there we were in Munich for Oktoberfest. We walked into the Lowenbrau tent and they were playing Glenn Miller. “In the Mood”. Quite a culture shock, not what I expected. When we finally found a table we were wedged between the “Italian Beer Drinking Team”, some Army tankers from Baumholder and of course some Germans. People would jump on the tables and shout a toast.
“Hier ist nach Deutschland!” [crowd roars]
“Ecco l’italia!”[crowd roars]
“Here’s to America!”[crowd roars]
At one point, I hoisted myself up and screamed:
“Here’s to daylight precision bombing!”[crowd roars]
I got back down and the German next to me, leaned over and said, “I heard that”. and winked. “PROST!”
I knew the songs and sang along. My fellow Puppies felt left out. We huddled. We then belted out the theme to “Gilligan’s Island”. The Germans loved it. We thought we were so cleaver. But the Army guys went into a huddle and then belted out theme song for “The Brady Bunch”. [crowd roars]
Thus began the Battle of the TV Show Songs. We went back at forth. “Addams Family”, “Batman”, “Super Chicken”. Google it. Even the Germans kicked in with a good rendition of “Hi,ho,hi,ho, it’s off to work we go”. In English no less. The Italian Beer Drinking Team was too busy drinking.
Hahn Airbase, West Germany, 1989 I had just put my family on the airplane back to the States and was very depressed. My friends rallied around me and invited me to play paintball with them. Over the months it grew from a couple of guys on the weekend to intramural Squadron events involving 40 or 50 folks. We were reminded to not pull people off of weekend duty to play.
Our favorite place was an abandoned slate factory. Five stories embedded into the side of a hill. We also played in various parks and places where the Germans did their volksmarching. Imagine being out on a weekend with the family, strolling along a forest path when five or six camouflaged figures come bolting across the path. Germans would flee. Americans would throw down a picnic and root us on. More than once the Polizei (cops) would be called and we would fade into the forest until they left.
One of the coolest placed we played was in a medieval castle. It was a drizzly day but that didn’t stop us. With all the germans hanging around everywhere we played we prided ourselves by not shooting a civilian. On this day I was stalking around a corner when this guy wearing a OD poncho came around the other corner. I almost put two in his chest before I realized he was a German. Not just any German but the “Schlossmeister”. the Castle Keeper. Think “Park Ranger”. He was pissed and wanted to know why in the Hell we were marking up a historical site with paint. I told him that the paint was water soluble and promptly popped one in my mouth to proof they were harmless.
We then sat down and started talking paintball
SM: “Is this military training?”
Me: “No, we do this for fun.”
SM: “But you have military equipment?”
Me: “It’s private military equipment.”
SM: “That’s why we lost the war.”
He wanted to know the rules of the game. I told him that two hits in arms, legs or torso meant you’re dead. Head shots killed you immediately.
“Then I should be dead twice”, he said. “We shot you?” “No, I was wounded four times in the War.”
He then regaled me with stories about his participation in the march on Moscow during World War Two.
I can’t for the life of me remember which castle it was. If you remember, please share with the group.
Base Commander sent out a photographer from the Hahn Hawk to take these BW pictures. Anyone have a copy? Anyone have more paintball pics? Post them of Facebook.
Sad news from Jeannie Beckers on September 24, 2014, about the passing of her husband Lyle C. Beckers. Col. Beckers was the commander of the 35th Tactical Fighter Squadron when it went TDY from Kunsan AB, Korea, to Da Nang AB, South Vietnam and Korat AB, Thailand in 1972. Lyle lead many 35th TFS strike escort missions into Route Pack VI and shot down two MiG-21s.
Jeannie sent a message to family and friends that said:
“It is with a very sad heart I am writing to let you know my precious Lyle passed away this morning at 5:AM EST. He died peacefully with Lisa, Laurie, Rob and I at his side. Patti will be here Saturday. A private Memorial Service will be held in our home Sunday morning. His final internment will be at a later date in Arlington Cemetery. He was a brave Warrior to the end. We shall miss him always.”
Joe Lee Burns sent an email message in which he said:
“Lyle was a hero to me, a role model. I wanted to be able to fly as good as he could, and he tried to teach me that. I love him and started missing him before now. Godspeed, Sir. Save me a seat.
I will share one Lyle Story: 81ST TFS out of Hahn AB, W Germany. We were at Wheelus AB, Libya for gunnery camp to escape bad weather in Germany in December (1968). Major Lyle Beckers was flight lead (I think I was Comet . . er . .I mean, #6 – flight lead of the last 4 jets) for the Saturday morning 9 ship departure (one jet was hard broke for parts) to Aviano AB, Italy and then back to Hahn in time for Christmas. Our Callsign was something like “Panther 21” flight.
Lyle briefed the takeoff sequence, rejoin ground track, and final flight check in before departing Wheelus airspace. Flight lead took off single ship from runway 29; flew about 2 miles, made a loose 180 degree turn for rejoin. The rest of the Phantoms took off as 2 ships and rejoined in trail. After another 180 degree turn the fight requested a flyby at 1,000 feet AGL, which was approved. Our formation was a single followed by 4 line-abreast 2 ships.
Abeam the tower, Lyle calls, “Santa Flight Check.” As briefed, he followed with “Rudolph,” the next two ship responded “Dasher,” then “Dancer,” followed by “Prancer” and “Vixen,” then “Comet” and “Cupid,” and then “Donner” and “Blitzen.” Tower clicked its microphone switch twice in response (probably because of the laughter in the tower). Before changing to Departure Control frequency, Lyle called, “Wheelus Tower, ‘Santa Flight’ departing your airspace, Merry Christmas, ‘Ho Ho Ho’”.!!!”
Jeannie replied: “Lyle said ‘HO HO HO!’ when he read it….said he was sorry he couldn’t add anything to your remembrance, but he knows you are right!!! Best love, Jeannie Beckers for Lyle.”