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.
The Presentation 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 year.
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 organizations.
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.
Operations at ‘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 government began.
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 status.
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 Group.