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History - Schierstein
The 1980's

On 1 October 1982, the 10th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron at RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom was acquired by the 497th RTG, and re-designated the 496th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron (RTS). Its mission was to provide more focused intelligence support to the United States Commander in Chief, Europe, The Commander in Chief, US Air Forces, Europe, and the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. 

The following year Operating Location A picked up additional tasking and was re-designated Detachment 1, 497th RTG.  In 1985, the 497th RTG and its squadrons were officially subordinated to the newly established 7455th Tactical Intelligence Wing activated at Ramstein AB.  This re-alignment was intended to provide a more effective chain of command for USAFE intelligence in a transition from peacetime to wartime.  At the same time, the newly established 7100th Combat Support Wing at Lindsey became the unit's servicing personnel, finance, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation supporting organization.

Throughout its history, the 497th was actively involved in the local community by sponsoring unit and community programs.  It participated in German-American singing groups, hunting clubs, and Volksmarches.  It also managed to sponsor two orphanages and two scouting units. The "Olympiad" event initiated in the 1970's by Colonel Thurman, continued virtually annually and the 10th Olympiad was held in August 1981.  Several, including this one pitted the 497th against the German Flusspioneer (River Crossing) unit, also stationed at Schierstein Harbor.  On the operational side, the 497th photo labs produced specialized color prints of the Iranian hostages arrival in Germany for the State Department and the local military community.

1986 was an extraordinary year for the 497th RTG.  The unit contributed imagery intelligence support to the Chad crisis, Operation Eldorado Canyon into Libya, as well as analysis of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. Imagery highlight production doubled between 1986 and 1987, as the list of customers expanded.  Community involvement, and morale boosting activities like the Olympiad, and Volksmarches continued as well. The unit became home for the Air Force's superweight boxing champion Clerk Hoard Lake as well. 

Over the years, the 497th RTG had established linkages with the Birmingham, Alabama and Little Rock Air National Guard, which housed the 117th and 123rd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons.  Many came to spend active duty training time alongside members of the 497th.  By the end of 1988,

·*  The color lab had moved to the second floor of Building 23E at Wiesbaden AB,
·*  268 in-theater imagery intelligence briefings had been delivered
·*  Two Eastman Kodak 1140 Versamats had been received and installed.
·*  The gym had been refurbished
·*  And three crisis operations had been supported

1989 marked yet another upgrade at Ramstein as Detachment 1 became the 495th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron.  The Army's 581st Military Intelligence (MI)Detachment  at the 497th became Detachment C, Imagery and Analysis Battalion (I&A Bn) (Provisional).  Meanwhile, the unit released the first collateral-level imagery exploitation reporting.

As the decade ended, serious work was underway to expand imagery intelligence operations in the United KIngdom.  As a result of treaty changes, RAF Molesworth was deactivated as a missle storage facility, and its facilities were now being eyed by many as a home for future intelligence operations.
On 1 September 1989, four individuals arrived at Molesworth to assess the potential for this new mission.