Nouasseur USAFB Morocco and early TAC Scouting

Posted on July 25th, 2007 in Camps,RWS,Shoulder Wear by bshelley

A red and white air base strip surfaced that I was not familiar with from Morocco. It was the youth military base strip for the person selling it so I asked him if he could share his remembrances from Scouting in Transatlantic Council in the 1950s.

Boy Scout Red and White Strip Air Force Base Nouasseur Morocco

Here’s what he had to say:

Roy,

My dad served in the US Navy in WWII, but he went to Morocco in 1951 as a civilian working for the contractors building the air bases.  In 1953 when the bases were completed, he went to work for the Air Force as a DOD civilian.

My first experience in scouting was as a French cub scout.  We lived in Marrakech at the time, and did not have access to the American scout program at the air base which was about twenty miles away.

I was a French cub scout from 1952 to 1953.  In joined the Boy Scouts of America in 1956 when we moved on-base (Nouasseur AFB).  Prior to that we lived on the local economy as we were not entitled to on-base housing as civilians.  That changed in 1956 due to increasing violence between the French and Moroccans (sounds familiar, doesn’t it).  Shortly thereafter, France, which had governed Morocco as a protectorate since 1912, granted it independance.

Then we moved to another air base where we had on-base housing.  I was a member of Troop 182, Nouasseur AFB, Morocco, from 1956 to 1959.  I think there were five US Boy Scout troops in Morocco, at four Air Force Bases and a Navy Base.  We had a summer camporee each year at Sidi Slimane AFB, which had a large wooded area, unlike the other bases, which were pretty arid and devoid of vegetation.  Scouts from the various troops selected for OA membership were tapped out at the annual camporee at Sidi Slimane AFB and completed their ordeal that night and the following day.  Once tapped out, we were allowed to get one raw egg and two matches, and we were then taken into the woods to spend the night alone.  The next day we had service projects to complete, but were not allowed to talk.  Probably not much different than now…? (Editor’s note – it is still very similar.)

The air bases that I can remember were Ben Geurir AFB, near Marrackech; Nouasseur AFB near Casablanca; Sidi Slimane AFB at Sidi Slimane; and an USAF installation at Rabat, the capital.  There was also a US Navy base at Port Lyautey.  I don’t know if there were troop rockers for the other bases that preceded the TAC red&white CSP for Morocco.

In 1959, our family moved to Ludwigsburg, Germany, where I joined Troop 63.  I earned my Eagle rank there, and I have a Eagle certificate signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  In Germany, we did a lot of joint activities with the German Boy Scouts, especially camping.  The German scouts were really into Indian lore.  They camped in large teepees which could accommodate a patrol size group, and did their cooking in homemade cookware over a fire in the center of the teepee.  We traded patches, knives, and belt buckles with each other.

I worked the summer of 1960 on the staff at Camp Freedom in Dautphe, Germany.  Camp Freedom was operated by the Transatlantic Council, and scouts from all over Europe, Africa, and the Middle East attended camp there for two weeks.  Part of our staff duties were to conduct the OA Brotherhood ceremonies for Ordeal members from all the troops in attendance each two week segment.  We had a lot of fun doing these ceremonies, and a lot of the German neighbors would attend.  Many Germans were big fans of anything to do with Indians.  We had Indians costumes for the ceremonies, and Camp Freedom was a great place for Order of the Arrow activities.  I have some old photographs if you are interested.  I graduated from Stuttgart American HS in 1961 and returned to the States for college, and was inactive in scouting for several years.

I worked as an assistant scoutmaster, scoutmaster, and troop committee member  in Virginia during the 70′s and early 80′s, but I haven’t been active since then, other than contributing to the local council through the United Fund.   One nice memory was receiving a letter in the late 70′s from one of the boys in a troop where I had been an assistant scoutmaster a couple years earlier, thanking me for inspiring him to earn his Eagle rank.  He is a career Secret Service agent now.

Scouting was one of the few activities we had available, especially in Morocco, and it was a major part of my life then.  I most remember sleeping under the desert skies.  With virtually no light pollution and seldom a cloud, the night skies seem to be the most brilliant I remember seeing anywhere.   Before star-gazing, we always had a rousing game of night-time capture the flag.

Ed Morris

6 Responses to 'Nouasseur USAFB Morocco and early TAC Scouting'

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  1. Roy said,

    on July 26th, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    In some e-mail correspondence with another collector, he pointed out that this was one of the SAC (Strategic Air Command) bases. In passing this on to Ed, he replied with some more details:

    Yes they were. When we first lived there, the bases were used by B-36′s, which had six rear-facing propeller engines. The B-36 was the air force’s nuclear bomber before the B-52. The ground rumbled beneath you when they took off or flew overhead. The first jet bombers were B-47′s. The B-52 replaced both these planes in 1954 as SAC’s nuclear bomber. Hard to believe it is still in service. The 357th Fighter-Interceptor squadron was also stationed at Nouasseur AFB. I googled Ben Geurir AFB to verify the spelling and found out that it is a designated alternate landing site for the space shuttle.

    My sister and her husband, an US Army officer, were stationed in Germany in the mid-seventies and they visited Morocco on vacation. They tried to get on the base at Nouasseur to pick some items at the base exchange, but were denied entry. An Air Force officer took them on in, but when the came out of the BX, the Air Police were waiting for them and kicked them off the base.

    The school at Nouasseur was closed in 1963. I thought the bases were turned over to the Moroccans then, but it appears that there was a US military presence into the 1970′s and perhaps we’re still there, but with a very low profile. Given the state of the world today, I doubt the Moroccan government would want to publicize any relations with the US military.

    Some alumni of the dependents’school visited Morocco three or four years ago, and had a very warm and friendly reception at the base, which is now the International Airport for Casablanca. They were taken around to all the old haunts–pool, movie theater, snack bar, bowling alley, etc as well as the dependents housing area. Moroccan flight controllers and their families now live in the homes that we moved into brand new in the mid-50′s.

    Ed

  2. Rod Fruendt said,

    on September 22nd, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I was in Troop 182, Nouasseur, and lived in Morocco from 1952 to 1961. I enjoyed the article, but was blown away to see the name of the author. Ed, we were in the same class!
    Rod.

  3. lucien bohbot said,

    on November 25th, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    I remember nouasseur air base in the 50′s because my brother was the drafts man. his name was albert bohbot- he was known as BEBERT, if anyone remembers him.
    my email is lbohbot@videotron.ca
    thank you

  4. Stephen Benchluch said,

    on November 21st, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    My father, Elias Benchluch was a Morrocan civilian working in the receiving area in the transportation unit. He met my mather at the base, Lucie Elmaleh. My father is still alive and providing numerous memories of his good times working at the base. Can someone provide me with info whether there are records of the personnel that worked at the base. Your help is appreciatted.

  5. Horst Kelly said,

    on January 7th, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Ed….just happened to come across this site….what memories…I was also in the troop and went to the annual camporee…I beleive in 1968 just before we PCS’s…I remember that we went to become “Air Scouts” at some point….you signed a letter for me to take to my next base…I think I still have it somewhere…what a small world…in 2001 after I retired I attended the reunion in ‘Vegas…Hult, Lytle, Bob and Dan Hunter and, some others….good time…I know your post is a couple years old, but if you get it drop me a line.

    Rod….don’t know if you remember me… was there twice 50-52 and 57-58….Horst Kelly sends

  6. Rod Fruendt said,

    on June 1st, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Hi, Horst,
    I remember you well from the Dallas hut days. I spent the ’57-’58 school year at Admiral Farragut Naval Academy in St. Petersburg, Fla. arriving back in Morocco in June, so I guess that’s why we missed each other that year. Do you remember a mini-jamboree that took place in Morocco? I seem to remember there were several troops there, including the Port Leyautey sea scouts. Rod.

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