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Search, recovery continues near Zemmer

Airmen have worked in the dense wooded area digging through thick vegetation to recover F-16 parts.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Quwan Woodson, 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operator, searches for aircraft wreckage during a cleanup near Zemmer, Germany, Oct, 22, 2019. Airmen have worked in the dense wooded area digging through thick vegetation to recover F-16 parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber)

Airmen have worked in the dense wooded area digging through thick vegetation to recover F-16 parts.

U.S. Airmen from across the 52nd Fighter Wing assist in a search and recovery cleanup near Zemmer, Germany, Oct. 22, 2019. More than 100 Airmen volunteers from Spangdahlem AB have been maneuvering rough terrain to ensure the wreckage is recovered. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber)

Airmen have worked in the dense wooded area digging through thick vegetation to recover F-16 parts.

U.S. Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing hike up a hillside to assist in a search and recovery cleanup near Zemmer, Germany, Oct. 22, 2019. Airmen have been maneuvering the mountainous terrain of the Eifel region to recover parts from the downed F-16 Fighting Falcon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber)

Airmen have worked in the dense wooded area digging through thick vegetation to recover F-16 parts.

U.S. Airmen from across the 52nd Fighter Wing scatter across a hillside to search and recover wreckage from an F-16 Fighting Falcon crash site near Zemmer, Germany, Oct. 22, 2019. The search and recovery teams have covered more than 15 acres of land to recover F-16 wreckage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --

Recovery efforts have continued at the site of the F-16 Fighting Falcon crash from Oct. 8, 2019. Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing have assisted with search and recovery of the wreckage as well as the cleanup of the affected area.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Hans Winkler, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron Operations Flight commander, has been leading more than 100 Airmen volunteers at the crash site during the search and recovery efforts.

“We’re out here canvasing the area looking for any random aircraft parts we can find,” Winkler said. “The volunteers are doing an outstanding job. Right now we’re covering roughly 10-15 acres of land. It’s quite a work load they’re taking on.”

Not only have Spangdahlem Airmen been volunteering at the crash site, but the Bundeswehr have also been providing round-the-clock security, controlling the exterior perimeter of the crash site preventing anyone who may be trying to collect debris or film the site, said German Bundeswehr Lt. Col. Ralf Bamberger.

“They’re providing us overall security of the area and to be our interface with the host nation,” Winkler said. “The Bundeswehr have been the ones directly interacting with both the village of Rodt, the mayor, and the local fire department.”

The search and recovery efforts have been a learning experience for Spangdahlem Airmen working with German Bundeswehr counterparts, and it has also been a learning and growing experience should they ever encounter future accidents and mishaps, said Winkler.

“When an accident happens like this F-16, it’s devastating for the Air Force, but there have been some positive lessons learned,” said Winkler. “In an environment like this, the Eifel is a beautiful area, but it’s got some challenging terrain. We’re learning about how to sweep areas that are mountainous with dense trees and vegetation and how to coordinate these efforts with our host nation.”

Winkler also noted that with a 20-minute commute to the crash site it’s been difficult to get back and forth, but the base populous has been amazing at pushing out resources and logistics needed to quickly and effectively perform search and recovery.