Bad Aibling: ASA In The Bavarian Alps
Courtesy of Dave Shively

(from the August 1969 edition of The Hallmark)

"Hey, long time no see. Guess who's en route to Germany."
"You're kidding. Where? Berlin or Frankfurt?"
"Bad Aibling."
"Bad who? You puttin' me on? What's a Bad Aibling?"

Old Nazi Airbase Today Is An Agency Field Station It seems safe to say that nearly all Agency personnel have heard of Germany. A few, perhaps, have even used the work "Bavaria" in their conversation. But "Bad Aibling" - unless one is either stationed there, returning from or on orders for that Agency field station - is not that familiar. It doesn't have the same "ring" to it as "Taiwan," "Okinawa: or "Shemya." Bad Aibling, then, remains somewhat the Mysterious Assignment.

Under this veil of misinformation, or lack of any information at all on USASAFS Bad Aibling, arriving personnel are soon pleasantly surprised.
Let it be known that Bad Aibling is a good assignment. If you take your eyes, ears, schnozzle and other sensory devices with you, you may not want to come home.

Bavaria is a country of beer, dumplings, cheese, sausages, an abundance of beautiful scenery, a wealth of sites to visit and a host of friendly frauleins.

Bad Aibling itself leaves not much to be desired. Situated at the base of the Bavarian Alps, in the beautiful Mangfall Valley, the city is surrounded by high-lying moors. Among its attractions for the tourist is the oldest mud-bath resort in Bavaria, offering (among other things) treatment for gout, rheumatism and neuritis.

Those who would venture further into traditional Bavaria may journey to Regensburg (Romanesque architecture), Wurzburg (very baroque), Ausbach (rococo of the Classical era of Protestantism), Oberstdorf (skiing, winter sports), Berchtesgaden (most impressive region in the Bavarian Alps) or Munich (often described as an overgrown village, with top symphony orchestras, museums and a Gemutlichkeit atmosphere).

Bad Aibling has an interesting military history, resulting not only from its location as a present-day USASA field station (commanded by MAJ James R. Jordan), but also from its past associations.

The Germans, in 1938, nicknamed Bad Aibling "Fliegerhorst," meaning "flier's roost," because of its use then as a base for Messerschmidt ME-109s. The ME-109s played a significant role in the Austrian campaign and the subsequent acquisition of the Sudetenland.

When newer, heavier aircraft were developed by the Germans, Bad Aibling's grass runways proved incapable of shouldering the added burden and the airfield was then converted into a primary flight training base, the purpose it served until the end of the war.

For a time, the Bad Aibling airfield was used in post-war years by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency and the International Refugee Organization.

But for the past 17 years, Bad Aibling has been host to personnel of ASA. The Agency's tenure at Bad Aibling began in 1952, when troops from the 328th Communications Company, Ft. Devens, Mass., arrived. The 328th was the first, but not the least, of a long line of units to locate at Bad Aibling.

When the Austrian peace treaty was signed in September 1955, the majority of ASA troops in that country were reassigned to Bad Aibling. With their arrival, the unit was redesignated as the 312th Communications Reconnaissance Battalion.

The 312th had a short life, for it was renamed in 1957 the 320th USASA Battalion (Operations), which endured until June 22, 1966, when it was deactivated and the 18th USASA Field Station was formed. On December 15, 1967, the 18th took the nomenclature by which the former Nazi arifield is currently known: USASAFS Bad Aibling.

Bad Aibling's runways, towers and airfield equipment are idle now, but the buildings and other post facilities are used actively in the fulfillment of the ASA mission.

The billets occupied by ASA personnel today were first used by German troops in World War II. Two or three men usually occupy each large room, with some envied men having singles. Apartments for dependants, closely resembling their American counterparts across the ocean in comfort and styling, are also available. Bad Aibling's buildings, adding to the scenic pleasure of the base, are faced of stone.

The post has recreational facilities widely admired, with year-round activities. Personnel take advantage of a Service Club, Special Services Library, photo lab, electronics hobby shop, crafts shop, auto repair shop and an adjacent nine-hole golf course where carts, clubs and other equipment may be rented. Golf "nuts" can drive to any of five challenging coursed within five hours of Bad Aibling.

Organized sports include football, basketball, baseball, volleyball and tennis. Skiing and boating facilities are only a short drive from the post. For the photography buff, there are the Alpine views and pretty girls.Bad Aibling's big social event of the year comes in May, when German-American Friendship Week draws many foreign nationals from surrounding communities, featuring open houses, demonstrations and crafts nights. The men look forward to setting up a beer tent and securing a lively band for the culminating Saturday night activities.

Scenery, diversion possibilities, challenging missions - it's unbelievable more 1049's are not being put in for Bad Aibling, Bavaria's answer to all those other sweet-sounding assignments.

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