Retired barber shares historical documentation with historian

Story and photo by Airman 1st Class Ciara M. Travis
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

After watching the KMC evolve for more than half a century, retired barber Siegfried “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,” Sigi said. “I’ve watched Airmen and lieutenants leave and come back as chiefs and colonels.”

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

The Weilerbach, Germany, native was only 14 years old when the French handed over their territory to the U.S. in August 1952.

From the establishment of Ramstein to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe 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 sergeant’s 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,” Sigi said.

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

“Sigi has given us some really great information,” Wueschner said. “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 shop’s 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,” Sigi said. “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 Bldg. 2113, it is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. They accept walk-ins or appointments.