WIESBADEN, Germany – The U. S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Postal Service Center opened its facility Sept. 30 to the community in order to view memorabilia in remembrance of the end of the Berlin Airlift.
Mitchell Jones, deputy to the USAG Wiesbaden commander, was on hand to see the finished display and thanked Dr. John Provan, who donated the items for the display, and the post office staff for their work on getting the project completed.
“This is important. We need to educate our young folks about this so in 20 to 30 years they will be able to pass this knowledge on and no one will ever forget,” Jones said.
James McKee Jr., supervisory postal program specialist, contacted Provan to see if he could support the display the post office planned.
Provan, who has written two books on the airlift, has an extensive collection of airlift memorabilia. In addition to contributing photos, Provan provided models of the aircraft and airfields involved, saying, “I wanted to support the idea, because I have a whole bunch of models. We figured, let’s get some photos up in order to document the role of the Army in the Berlin Airlift.”
He said that more than 16,000 Army soldiers were part of the airlift.
The Western Allies organized the airlift from June 26, 1948 to Sept. 30, 1949 to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin, once the Soviet Union blocked the railway, road and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Western control.
American and British air forces flew over Berlin more than 250,000 times, dropping necessities such as fuel and food. The original plan was to lift 3,475 tons of supplies daily. By the spring of 1949, that number was often met twofold, with the peak daily delivery totaling 12,941 tons, according to historical documentation.
Next to the photos on display are memorabilia of what was contained in the care packages – the candy dropped during the airlift, newspapers, mail showing the Wiesbaden postal code and other objects associated with the airlift.
Provan said he was able to collect the items when posts and bases were shut down across Germany. “The items were being thrown away, so I gathered everything up to save because this is so important. If these items were not gathered up, look what we would have lost,” he said.
McKee said, “This display preserves the proud history of the Berlin Airlift as it is so important, and with Rhein-Main Air Base closing, it was best suited to be here in Wiesbaden because of its growth and the ability to continue showcasing and educating our future generation on how this event helps shape the American-German relationship,” McKee said.
This is the first phase, McKee said. The post office is working on an idea to showcase more of the models and other memorabilia from Provan, who is donating
the memorabilia to the Army.