A truly sad and horrific day.


Imagine you are preparing to go out for the evening, when suddenly tragedy strikes. That tragedy could be an explosion, a mass shooting, an aircraft crash, where there is chaos and people running for their lives.

This is not K-9 related. But I just thought that I would share this. This aircraft accident happened 29 Aug 90, at Ramstein AB, Germany. I was there, off duty, and in the process of moving off base.

We got notification of a recall, though we really didn’t need it, as many of us had just witnessed these events unfold. The C-5 crashed immediately on take-off, just over the perimeter fence. This was an area where we had previously posted our MWD teams during Base exercises, and during Desert Storm (to come later). It was a good thing that it went down where it did, because had it continued on the pre-determined flight path, it could have taken out a few German villages, that were home to Germans and Americans alike, killing oh, so many more people.

Initially, there were thoughts that this may have been terrorism related, as Desert Shield had just begun 2 Aug 90. However, that was ruled out later, and determined to have been an issue with the aircraft’s reverse thruster.

I still vividly recall the sights, sounds and smells of that night, while walking the crash scene, looking for any survivors. I can still smell the mixture of burnt human flesh, mixed with the odor of JP fuel. Yes, when we deployed on scene, the aircraft was in pieces, though still in flames. I can recall seeing the aircraft commander (pilot), still strapped into his seat, holding the control wheel, though the control was no longer there. It had melted away from the heat, as did half of the pilot’s face. I can still see debris scattered throughout the scene, as we walked, looking for any survivors, though, in our minds, we knew there no more.

Afterwards, they took the pieces of the aircraft, and stored them in one of our aircraft parking areas, for continued investigation. On midnight shifts, I used to go out there, park my truck, and just walk the area with my MWD. It was eerily peaceful and calming. DO NOT JUDGE ME! This was my own way, of coming to grips with the reality of this tragic situation. You have no idea how something like this affects responders, unless you have been there. And everyone has a different reaction. We all have a different ‘vehicle’ that we use to deal with tragedy, and we can never forget. Those images and smells will forever remain embedded in my memories.