690th ESG Inactivates
In an early
afternoon formation today at Tempelhof AB, Maj. Gen.
Gary O’Shaughnessy, Commander of the new Air Force
Intelligence Command, will present the eighth Air
Force Outstanding Unit Award to the 690th
Electronic Security Group.
will be followed by the unit’s formal inactivation.
Assisting the general will be the unit’s commander,
Col. Robert A. Leech and Col. William H. Buchholz
commander of the 690th’s parent
organization, the 26th Intelligence Wing
at Ramstein AB, Germany.
The unit and its
predecessors have had a long and distinguished
record of outstanding operational achievements in
Berlin, earning two Freedom Through Vigilance
Awards, two Tactical Readiness Awards and eight Air
Force Outstanding Unit Awards.
The most notable
public achievements occurred in 1983, 1986, and 1990
when it won the prestigious Travis Trophy, the
annual Department of Defense award that is given to
a field station for the most outstanding
contributions to the U.S. cryptologic effort.
While the 690th
ESG has its ceremonial inactivation today, a small
cadre of the 690th personnel, similar in
size to the original ‘A’ Flight of 1954, will
continue operations at Tempelhof until later this
As an inactivated
unit, the 690th ESG could be returned to
active status when and where needed in the future.
“However long that wait may be,” Leech said, “the
inner strength, fierce determination to succeed and
indomitable spirit that have characterized the unit
will remain in the hearts, minds and memories of its
talented men and women, past and present.”
The ceremony marks
the end of more than four decades of operations by
the 690th ESG and its several predecessor
Only months after
the repression of demonstrators by Soviet Forces in
the German Democratic Republic on June 17, 1953 did
the first U.S. Air Force Security Service contingent
arrive in Berlin.
Since Jan.1, 1954,
USAFSS and its successors, the Electronic Security
Command, and more recently, the Air Force
Intelligence Command, have maintained a substantial
presence in the city.
The first USAFSS
operation, in what is now dormitory space at
Tempelhof, near the “new” radar tower, was small in
scale and conducted by a very low profile unit, ‘A’
Flight of the 2nd Radio Squadron (Mobile).
Responding to increasing
mission demands, the unit established an operating location
on a World War II rubble heap at Marienfelde, near the
southern edge of the city on June 28, 1962. Renovation
of early temporary mobile facilities and the construction of
new, permanent operations buildings in direct sight of East
German guard towers began in October, 1965.
‘Mari,’ as the site became known, grew in size and
importance over the years and continued until last
June, when, its mission complete, the process of
returning the site and its facilities to the German
At the same time
building began at Marienfelde in 1965, a USAFSS
liaison team began operations at Teufelsberg,
another rubble pile in the British sector of the
divided city. The 6912th Radio
Squadron (Mobile) became the 6912th
Security Squadron in July 1963, the 6912 Electronic
Security Squadron in 1979 and one year later the
6912 Electronic Security Group.
On July 15, 1988,
the unit became the 690the Electronic Security Wing,
the only Air Force unit in Berlin to attain wing
On June 12, 1991, owing to the changing complexion
of Europe, German unification, the dissolution of
the Warsaw Pact and the impending demise of the
Soviet Union, the 690th ESW was
designated the 690th Electronic Security