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Farewell to
Major Emile Jean "John" Stockreiser

USMLM Air Team Liaison Officer from November 1975 to November 1978

We salute you for your service to our nation.

 

He liked to be known as John, but his middle name was spelled Jean. He was born in Luxembourg and had to be in their Army for three years before he would be allowed to immigrate to the US. He was an RF-4 pilot, stationed at Zweibruecken AB, Germany.

He loved to penetrate French airspace, declare an emergency at one of their airfields, then do a quick touch and go and get the hell out of there. 

 

John Stockreiser and the Soviet Allstedt Airfield Quick Reaction Team

by

CMSgt Konrad Spitzenberger (USAF, Ret)

January 2007

 

Marianne and I received the sad news about the recent death of Major Emile Jean Stockreiser (USAF, Ret), and it is a reminder of our own mortality. I don't remember if he was older than I, but I don't think there was much difference in our ages. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to tour with him quite often. It is ironic that just the other day I was looking through some touring slides, and Major Stockreiser was in one of them. I remember him as being a true gentleman and for his coolness under pressure, his easy-going manner, and his ability to analyze Soviet air operations using his vast experience as a USAF fighter pilot.

All you Air Team veterans will recall the gully located between the Gatterstaedt Radar Site (which played the dual role of GCI site and the airfield outer marker beacon) and the inner marker beacon serving Allstedt Soviet Airfield. I am willing to bet we blue-suiters all used that same area either as a preliminary observation point (OP) or as an open-air restaurant area. . .

FITTER H 10 Blue with Reconnaissance Pod on Final Approach into Allstedt


One Allstedt reconnaissance tour in particular stands out in my memory. Although it was not a bit funny at the time, I still have to laugh about what happened that memorable day. This incident occurred while the two of us were monitoring a very active FISHBED H flying program. Although we had relocated our OP several times during the program, we certainly had overstayed our welcome that day. Nonetheless, when there was a break in the program, we decided to take advantage of this and have a bite to eat.

Major Stockreiser had some of his lunch on the hood of the Bronco, while the rest of his meal, including some soft butter, remained on the passenger seat. A GAZ-66 cargo truck loaded with Soviet Air Force troops appeared out of nowhere and surprised us. When I spotted the GAZ coming up on us along a field trail behind a hedge row, I shouted "SOVs, get in"! Stockreiser jumped into his seat with his lunch in hand, and of course had no time to clear away the butter and other food items on the seat. 


But, we did not realize until a bit later on that this was not just a bunch of run-of-the-mill SOV troopies. This was a Soviet Airfield Fast Reaction Team that Air Team tours began to encounter in the mid-1970s (I remember a real close call near Falkenberg when a similar team jumped a 1975 tour comprising Bill Burhans, Larry Patterson, and myself). The SOV team members quickly deployed with AKs at the ready and things looked dicey. We took off like a bat out of hell and spun around through the open field from which we had been operating. As we started to exit the area to flee from the bad guys, we frantically motioned to them not to shoot as we backed away. The Soviet Air Force NCOIC jumped in front of his troops who had their AKs aimed at us from about 15 feet away and restrained them. The Bronco stirred up so much dust as we spun around in that dry field in our hasty departure that we lost sight of our "friends" in the GAZ for awhile. It was a very close call, and had it not been for the actions the Soviet NCOIC of this Fast Reaction Team took, things could have ended badly indeed.

There was no time for me to ask Major Stockreiserís approval as to what action I should take to avoid the weapons pointed at us. I just slammed the Bronco in reverse and backed away as rapidly as I could. Who knows if I would have been around to tell this story had that NCO not done what he did. I am still grateful to him for the fast action he took immediately to restrain his team members and for that I owe him.

We always ensured that we had at least two escape routes available when in an OP, so we chose a narrow trail on which it turned out that a Nark was hiding with his Wartburg. He had been well concealed, and probably did not expect us to come in his direction. He had to jump behind his vehicle to get out of our way as we passed him at full throttle. I can still see the look on his face! He must have been almost as scared as we were. We passed his vehicle with so little clearance that I was amazed that we lost no mirrors!

The fast reaction team in the GAZ-66 did not waste any time chasing us. Due to its size, the truck could not take the shortcut we had used past the Nark's Wartburg. That trail behind a dirt berm was hardly wide enough for the Bronco to get by. The SOVs had to drive across a plowed field, which slowed them down considerably. But, they recovered quickly and gave us a good chase right up to a nearby railroad crossing; however, we beat them across just ahead of a train that probably was en route from Halle. Thanks to the short arms of the schlagbaum at the rail crossing, Stockreiser and I zig-zagged past that barrier and crossed the tracks to safety. Perhaps the SOVs were not allowed to go around such schlagbaums, who knows? And, had the approaching train hit their vehicle, it could have made a very bad impression not only on the troops, but also on their truck. It was a very wise decision on their part. . . .

After John Stockreiser and I got home from that tour, he came by our quarters that evening with a nice bottle of chilled Champagne (by the way, he did take time to change out of the butter-stained befouled pair of pants he had been wearing in the OP!). He did not stay long, and nothing was said about why he was bringing me a bottle of bubbly. Marianne wondered for a long time what that was all about. I finally told her years later. . . .

Those were the days, and I still miss them a great deal. And I will miss Major Emile Jean Stockreiser, too. Although we had not been in contact with him, he remains a part of the wonderful memories of the best years of my US Air Force career, and I salute him.

(My sincere thanks to Bill Burhans for fleshing out this article and adding the photographs).


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