Monday, December 01, 2014

Nouasseur AFB

I thought I would share some experiences I had while in the air force, stationed in Morocco from January 1957 through July 1958. I will be breaking it down in parts starting with a snowy January in New York City, waiting for my scheduled flight to mysterious Casablanca, Morocco. I hung out with a guy from Spokane, I think his name was Donald Eggers. I lost track of him but if he still lives, I would guess he would still live in Spokane, where there is a sizable clan of Eggers. He would be about 75-77 years old now.

I arrived in Morocco at Nouasseur AFB to a bright sunny day, leaving the snow and ice behind. I was assigned to the 1603rd Support Squadron, a maintenance squadron for MATS, Military Air Transport Service. It is now MAC, Military Air Command, which was simply put, an airline owned by the air force with passenger and freight services. Probably our main mission was to support SAC in their logistics. More on that later.

Some facts about Morocco is that they were the first country to recognize the new country called the United States of America in 1777. The the Sultan declared the US as a treaty nation and prohibited pirates from attacking our ships as we were under his protection. Sliding forward to 1953, Sultan Mohammed V was exiled to Madagascar by the French. While Morocco was a protectorate rather than a territory such as Algeria, it was still controlled by the French. The Sultan was stirring up things hoping for independence.

The United States were also a power then, having stayed after World War two. Since Vichy France had sided with the Germans during our invasion of Morocco, relations were somewhat tense at times. We had built a large airbase just 21 miles south of Casablanca in 1951-52 which was primarily a SAC base with Mats in support. It was called Nouasseur AFB, the place that would become my home in 1957. This base was activated by the US and used as a divergence site in case of war with the Soviet Union.

It was a notable time, since the Sultan was exiled two years later, then brought back in 1956 where he was crowned as king and granted full independence by France. I arrived just one year later.  We added two more air bases which served primarily as temporary home to various SAC wings which performed Reflex Alerts where the entire wing would pack up, move to Ben Guerrir AFB and
 Sidi Slimane, in Rabat, the capitol. The SAC crews  would fly their B-36, B-47 and B52s over to our alert bases, which consisted of the above, plus Wheelus AFB in Libya and Diahran in Saudi Arabia. (sp) MATS would then fly the parts, equipment, enlisted mechanics and food service troops to reform as a complete unit, only to be returned to the ZI, (zone of interior) after 90 days to be replaced by another unit.

My memory is fading fast, so spelling may have gone by the wayside in these places. In 1961, King Mohammed V died and his son, Hassan ascended to the throne. Hassan was concerned over the Soviet Union possibility of attack, since Morocco was our prime dispersal destination in the event of war, which is what the practice Reflex Alerts were all about. He asked us to leave,, which we did in 1963.

More in my next installment.

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