Retired barber watches base evolve

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ciara M. Travis
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
After watching the Kaiserslautern Military Community evolve for more than half a century, retired barber Sigfreud "Sigi" Degen, has watched Airmen and leaders come and go -- and done so with pleasure.

After 50 years, Sigi has collected quite the stock of historical photos and documents and is now sharing them with Silvano Wueschner, 86th Airlift Wing historian.

Sigi, former owner and barber of Sigi's Barber Shop, has seen the KMC evolve and grow for more than 70 years.

"After seeing everything change, I still love the memories I've gotten from my Air Force friends," said Sigi. "I've watched Airmen and lieutenants leave and come back as chiefs and colonels."

With that said, Sigi has had some time to collect newspapers, books and photos of the KMC's development.

The Weilerbach, Germany native was only 14 years of age when the French handed over their territory to the United States in Aug. of 1952.

From the establishment of Ramstein, to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters Building car bombing, Sigi has seen it all. He was at the air show of 1988 just a day before the infamous crash and he's watched the architecture of the base grow immensely.

Along with watching the KMC develop, Sigi has also seen the Air Force change throughout the years.

He's watched the implementation of the rank chief master sergeant and even had the privilege of cutting one of Ramstein's first chief master sergeants' hair. He has also seen policies come and go. Sigi remembers seeing Airmen get the boot for homosexuality and now will watch the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy dissolve Sept. 20.

"The Air Force today is much different than it was before," said Sigi.

Through all of the changes, Sigi has built quite the collection of historical documentation.

"Sigi has given us some really great information," said Wueschner. "It's interesting to meet someone who has seen so much. He watched Ramstein go from farmland to flightline. That's incredible."

It all began when Sigi opened "Sigi's Barber Shop" on Sept. 19, 1961 -- making this year the barber shops 50th anniversary.

After 40 years in, Sigi sold his shop and retired. However, retirement didn't stop his love for the Air Force.

"I like to spend my time golfing," joked Sigi. "And I still make it to the Officers' Club on Friday nights to meet with friends."

At 73 years old, Sigi plans to stay around much longer. After being designated an honorary colonel, Sigi has promised to stick around Ramstein for as long as he can.

Still open and operating, Sigi's Barber Shop is one of Ramstein's oldest establishments. Located in building 2113, they are open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to noon, and they accept walk-ins or appointments.