Last revised: October 28, 2009

Bremerhaven Now - 1998

Submitted by Bill Gallihugh - 202 - 6913th RSM - Dog/Easy Flights - 1962-1965

Looks like they're right - you can't go home again. The landscape, streets, and houses of Bremerhaven look much like they did the last time I was back to visit in '76, but everything else has changed. The last vestiges of the American presence have been swept away. It's like we were never there.

This is some of what I found when my wife and I, along with our two daughters, went back to Bremerhaven in 1998 for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. Getting there is now easier - you can easily fly United/Lufthansa through Frankfort into Bremen, where there is now an expressway going to Bremerhaven and on through to Cuxhaven. Once in Bremerhaven, getting around is like being reintroduced to an old acquaintance - a little strange and awkward at first, but quickly settling into a familiar groove. Burgermeister Smidt Str, Hafen Str, and even Rickmers Str have changed little.

The PX and other facilities off-base have been gone for many years, but now the hospital is a German Mariners Kronkenhaus, and the Staging Area is part of a huge container terminal (the Uberseehafengrenze). We went to the Schlos Morganstern (a restaurant in Weddewarden about a kilometer north of the base where Dog flight 202's used to hold "roll call") and walked along the dike back toward the base. You used to be able to walk up almost to the Ops building, but now there is a rather imposing fence blocking off everything long before you get near enough to see any of the buildings. Along the coast behind the base - which was once empty tidal flats - is a forest of container derricks that stretch all the way back to Bremerhaven. There are acres of cars being loaded (unloaded?), and most of the dike has been apparently removed behind the base. From what I could see driving up Wurster Str, the gym, Radio City, and the little chapel are unchanged. The army barracks look to have been replaced by three story apartment-type buildings. The Air Force/Navy dorms around the quadrangle are still there.

In addition to the missing olive drab busses and American license plates, there has been a noticeable change in the cultural makeup of Bremerhaven. The most obvious sign is the graffiti, which seemingly covers every vertical surface throughout much of the city. Sections of Bremerhaven, such as some areas around the Fischereihafen, now house complete foreign subcultures - owing primarily to the large influx of foreign workers (Auslanders) in previous years. In particular, middle eastern dress and commercial signs are very much in evidence.

The November weather was one thing that remains unchanged from my memories - gray and cold with a wind-driven drizzle. I remember this wind was called "the Hawk" when it came howling across the dike and made the daily walk from the Air Force dorms to the Ops building seem very long indeed.

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Last revised: October 28, 2009

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