Bitburg Annex returned to German Government

USAF

Col. Jason Bailey, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, speaks during the Bitburg Annex Transition Ceremony held at the Bitburg Annex, Nov. 6, 2017. The ceremony officially returned the last piece of Bitburg Air Base to the German government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Warren)

USAF

Col. Jason Bailey, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, claps as Mr. Alois Boerder, Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben, the federal agency for real estate, representative, signs the Bitburg Annex Transition Proclamation during the Bitburg Annex Transition Ceremony held at the Bitburg Annex, Nov. 6, 2017. The ceremony officially returned the last piece of Bitburg Air Base to the German government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Warren)

USAF

Col. Jason Bailey, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, accepts the pen from Mr. Alois Boerder, Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben, the federal agency for real estate, representative, to sign the Bitburg Annex Transition Proclamation during the Bitburg Annex Transition Ceremony held at the Bitburg Annex, Nov. 6, 2017. The ceremony officially returned the last piece of Bitburg Air Base to the German government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Warren)

USAF

Col. Jason Bailey, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, passes the symbolic base key to Mr. Alois Boerder, Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben, the federal agency for real estate, representative, during the Bitburg Annex Transition Proclamation during the Bitburg Annex Transition Ceremony held at the Bitburg Annex, Nov. 6, 2017. The ceremony officially returned the last piece of Bitburg Air Base to the German government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Warren)

Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany -- Airmen and community members gathered together at Bitburg Annex to celebrate the transition, reminisce about the past, and look forward to the future at Spangdahlem AB.

The ceremony included speeches by Col. Jason Bailey, 52nd Fighter Wing commander; Mr. Alois Boerder, Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben, the federal agency for real estate, representative; Mr. Michael Billen, deputy county commissioner and state parliamentian; and Mr. Joachim Kandels, Bitburg mayor.

“Though the property goes back to the German community today, our presence here in this area remains unchanged,” Bailey said. “The Airmen of the 52nd Fighter Wing, live in, experience, and enjoy the entire Bitburg Eifel region. We will continue to do so well into the future.”

As part of the post-Cold War changes in the Department of Defense's European basing requirements, in 1993 the decision was made to inactivate the 36th FW.

The 36th FW was inactivated in 1994; however, many important facilities and functions located at Bitburg AB could not be easily replaced. The hospital, family housing, three DoD Dependent’s schools, Airman Leadership School, commissary, Base Exchange, and other activities led to the retention of a portion of the base as Bitburg Annex.

Over the years, Spangdahlem’s infrastructure and support facilities were enhanced to support mission requirements. The process culminated earlier this year, when the Bitburg High School closed and the temporary, modular, Spangdahlem High School opened. The permanent high school is currently under construction.

“Our BIMA partners and our civil engineer squadron have tirelessly worked to clean the facilities in preparations for today’s transition,” Bailey said. “What is here is far more than a military alliance, it’s a community of people with a shared purpose who care for each other and the region. Bitburg was, is, and always will be a crucial part of the United States’ effort here in Europe. We’re teammates, partners, and friends.”

The height of the ceremony came when Boerder joined Bailey in signing the Bitburg Annex Transition Proclamation. The signing was directly followed by Bailey passing the symbolic base key to Boerder, officially giving the last piece of Bitburg AB over to the German government.

The Bitburg mayor concluded the ceremony by expressing the importance of maintaining relationships shared between the city of Bitburg and the military community.

“The city of Bitburg will continue to care for the good relationships with our American friends and further maintain personal contacts and friendships,” Kandels said. “We also thank our American friends for over six decades of good neighborhood, which was characterized by respect and trust. Six decades that we will thankfully keep in our record books.”