A look inside the 38th CTS

1st Lt. Erin Dorrance
Kaiserslautern American

  55 Years of Names
Name changes since 1950:
7329th Labor Service Unit-Engineering Construction
7002nd Civilian Service Unit
7002nd Civil Engineer Flight
7002nd Civil Engineering Squadron
702nd Civil Engineering Squadron
617th Civil Engineering Squadron
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Construction and Training Squadron
435th Construction and Training Squadron
38th Construction and Training Squadron

Editor’s Note:  The following article is the first in a series of four that features the 38th Construction and Training Squadron.  The series includes features on the squadron history, Aircraft Arresting System Depot mission, the construction mission and the training mission.

After 55 years, nine name changes and a slew of commanders, today’s 38th Construction and Training Squadron is a unique construction unit with missions that vary from training civil engineers to building aircraft hangars.

“We were one of the first units to start building up Europe after World War II,” said Reinhold Brückner, 38th CTS deputy commander.  

The squadron was established Sept. 1, 1950, by the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Commander Lt. Gen. John Cannon.  The squadron was called the 7329th Labor Service Unit and was stationed at Rhein Main Air Base. 
The unit was unique in that the entire organization was civilian except the one U.S. liaison officer.  

The civilian unit was also unique in that it was the only one to have a construction administration section, logistics, vehicle repair for general and heavy equipment, transportation, heavy equipment element, horizontal and vertical construction element, and a dining facility. Today the 38th CTS construction organizational structure has not changed significantly, said Mr. Brückner.

As projects became larger, the unit moved to Ramstein Air Base in 1953, which was located immediately beside today’s Ramstein Air Base, he said.  

The move was considered a TDY for the workers; however, the 90-day increments were consistently extended. The workers were housed in tents and the mess hall and offices were also tents. The living quarters included several cots and one heater in the middle of the room.  Workers would constantly turn to heat the front and back of their bodies, he said.

Nobody owned their own car beside the commander who drove a tiny, shaky Toppolino left over from the war. The vehicle often broke and the commander would jump on duty trucks driving to site locations with other workers.  

More tents were added, and in the 1960s these tents were replaced with buildings. Meanwhile, the organization had constructed the bulk of today’s Ramstein Air Base.  New projects quickly appeared at Bitburg, Spangdahlem and Hahn, keeping workers busy.  

As construction projects grew larger, the work load called for more manpower.  In 1971, the unit adopted the Air Force’s only all military Aircraft Arresting System Depot, which is one of its three primary missions today. A few years later in 1974, the organization added the Engineering Service Unit, which included engineers, architects and technicians. In 1979, a training mission was added to include extensive training in contingency engineering to prepare mobility teams to build, operate and maintain bases down range. The training mission today is critical for deploying civil engineers in support of operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and humanitarian missions as well, said Chief Master Sergeant Rian Peaceman, 38th CTS chief.  

Although the organization was busy with its various missions, it always made time to help support local communities, churches and social institutions – a tradition that is still carried on today, said Mr. Brückner. In fact, it is hard to find a sports field in the neighborhood that was not somehow established without the help of the organization.  

Today the organization is known as the 38th CTS and is still unique.  
“In the 1950s there were 41 units like us to help rebuild Europe.  The 38th CTS is the only existing unit that is still in action today,” said Mr. Brückner, who has been attached to the unit for 21 years and is the only host national deputy commander in the U.S. Air Force.  

Today’s 38th CTS consists of 188 civilians and 79 military personnel.  The squadron has people deployed to six countries and is currently conducting 10 large construction projects simultaneously and trains thousands of students each year.  The 38th CTS accomplishes all their missions with a $7 million annual operating budget, said Chief Peaceman.
The 38th CTS helped build Hahn, Spangdahlem, Sembach, Ramstein and most of the military bases in Germany and several throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  

To read more about the 38th CTS construction mission, read the next series of “A look inside the 38th CTS.”