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History - Schierstein
The 1990s

Production was booming by 1990. The unit provided support to one contingency operation, (Desert Shield), two humanitarian operations (BUSY PLAYMATE and DESERT RAIN), and the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (which produced over 5,000 intelligence reports)  As always, the 497th was on many distinguished visitor's itineraries, this year including the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Congressional representatives, and the Secretary of the Air Force.  In efforts to safeguard American lives, the 497th provided support for Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) evacuations from Liberia, Zaire and Turkey.

When it seemed the unit could not possibly top its 1990 achievements, it was called upon to provide vital support to Operation Desert Storm.  It deployed personnel and supplied time-sensitive imagery products to help ensure the success of air, ground and naval forces in the Gulf.  Most members worked a minimum of 12 hour shifts from August 1990 to April 1991.  Following Desert Storm, when other intelligence operations wound down, the 497th was still working 12 to 18 hour shifts and deploying personnel in support of the Kurdish refugee relief efforts in Iraq.

During the Fall of 1990 and Spring of 1991 the rumblings of a new mission grew louder in the Molesworth area.  After discussions with the British Government, the United States and NATO authorities, the United States European Command decided to develop RAF Molesworth as a new intelligence base.  In late Spring of 1991 Prime Minister Margaret Thacher authorized the formation of a Joint Analysis Center (JAC) at RAF Molesworth.  After additional planning and  senior level approvals, final approval for the JAC was granted.  The JAC was activated at Molesworth on 1 October 1991.




Epilogue

From 1951 to 1991 the 497th RTG established a long and enduring record of excellence.  Performing in a variety of roles and missions, the airmen, soldiers, marines and even sailors have served the imagery intelligence community not only of the European Theater, but world-wide.

Even though not a "Joint" unit, the men and women of the four services worked as a cohesive team, side by side, making indelible contributions on behalf of their respective components. Each a credit to his service, and each an integral part of the whole.  They rose to dynamically changing,  challenging, and often daunting mission requirements, which forged an unchallenged work ethic and sense of personal and corporate pride in their craft. This perspective on operational imagery intelligence support is unequaled anywhere in the world.  The 497th professionals will always carry the proud smile of those who worked for and contributed to a truly great organization.

Over the years at Schierstein close and friendly relationships were forged with our host city, Schierstein.  Those who served with her will always fondly remember our many friends, military and civilian, and the unique brand of German-American freundschaft that was created and nurtured. 



Finally, the 497th flag was resurrected by the Air Force IN, recognizing the unique contributions and legacy it represented.  Major General Rokke bestowed this legacy on what was then the Air Force Intelligence Support Group, which, on 2 November 1993, became the 497th Intelligence Group.


Air Force intelligence unit's secret role
fades quietly : into history after 41 years
By DAVE MELANCON
Staff writer

WIESBADEN, Germany - Not many people are going to miss the 497th -Recon Technical Group which inactivated Friday.  That's because only a few people knew the "secret Air Force" ever existed.
"That fact is a tribute to our security," said Col. Wendell F. Moseley Jr., who 'commands the group.  "We have done our job in silence. That's why we don't put a shingle out on our doorway."
The unit cased its colors during ceremonies Friday. Photographic and computer equipment has -been moved out and the installation will be turned over to the German government this summer.
Moseley said .the mission of the 41-year-old intelligence unit was to process, analyze and. distribute photographic materials' to "decision makers, both military and civilian throughout Europe. "The nature of our work requires us not to go into detail in the territory we were involved with or the

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scope of our operations, but we were the largest intelligence production plant of any. service in Europe," he said.
During the 1960s and 1970s, when U.S. Air Forces in Europe was headquartered at Wiesbaden AB, more than 1,000 airmen and members of other services worked -at Wiesbaden's Schierstein annex, he said.
Some of the 60 airmen still there will move to the Joint Analysis Center in England or to other assignments.
The 497th provided information during Operations Provide Comfort, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
It also helped during the U.S. bombing of Libya, the Lebanon crisis, the 1979 evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Iran, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the Pakistan Civil War, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait  in 1961, the erection of the Berlin Wall in for 1961 and the Congo airlift in the 1950s.
Although the 497th and its airmen were a part of the Schierstein community very few of its neighbors knew what went on in the compound, Moseley said
"A  prominent member of the community used to call us Schierstein's Secret Air Force, " he said.

(Wiesbaden Post, 11 July 1992)

During the Fall of 1990 and Spring of 1991 the rumblings of a new mission grew louder in the Molesworth area.  After discussions with the British Government, the United States and NATO authorities, the United States European Command decided to develop RAF Molesworth as a new intelligence base.  In late Spring of 1991 Prime Minister Margaret Thacher authorized the formation of a Joint Analysis Center (JAC) at RAF Molesworth.  After additional planning and  senior level approvals, final approval for the JAC was granted.  The JAC was activated at Molesworth on 1 October 1991. (See the RAF Molesworth Page for more)