I'm Doug Donnell and arrived at Dreux as a 10 year old with my family in August of 1961. My father was assigned to the newly formed Defense Area Communications Control Center - Europe that was being activated at Dreux. We stayed at Dreux for two years until August of 1963 when DACCC was moved to Camp des Loges near Paris, but I still managed to get back for an occasional visit, including most of the summer of '64 before we rotated back to the States. I have wonderful memories of Dreux and was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled on the website that Chuck and Bill had put together. It has been great making Dreux acquaintances through the website and reading the blog and emails let me know that I was not alone in my affection for our dear old base. While our experiences may have been different we all seem to agree that, for some reason, Dreux was a special place and our time there was something out of the ordinary. At least, that's how I see it. So on to a little bit more about me . . .
I was born at Clark AFB in the Philippines back in 1951 and like most military brats moved every few years spending time in Japan, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, and finally, Nebraska where I graduated from high school (Bellevue HS) and went to college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. I graduated in 1972 with a major in Chemistry and a minor in attending football games (We were national champs in football during my junior and senior years). I'm still a great fan of Nebraska sports and the state (heck, I was even been appointed as an "Admiral in the Navy of the Great State of Nebraska" by the governor) and fly out to Lincoln a couple times a year to go to a football game and visit with friends.
I went through the ROTC program at Nebraska and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Air Force in July, 1972. I spent almost 30 years on active duty in the communications-electronics career field with assignments in Mississippi (twice), New York, Thailand, Germany (twice), Illinois, Maine, and Washington, DC. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Air Force and had a variety of assignments doing everything from tactical communications (1st Combat Comm Squadron in Germany) to staff work at AF Communications Command (Scott AFB, IL), HQ USAF, and the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. In my 4 ½ years in the 1st Combat Comm Sq, I spent a lot of time on deployments throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It's interesting to think back now about places like Iran, Pakistan, and Egypt and realize that we were actually on a friendly basis with those countries - how things change over the years.
I spent three years in northern Maine at Loring AFB (10 feet of snow per year) as the commander of the 2192nd Communications Squadron where my squadron was responsible for all of the communications equipment and air traffic control on the base.
I moved from Maine to Germany in 1991 where I was the commander of the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force Signal Group. The group was responsible for day-to-day maintenance of a huge NATO underground war headquarters in a little tiny German village called Ruppertsweiler. The Ruppertsweiler bunker was the primary war headquarters for the Central Army Group and 4th Allied Tactical Air Force from Heidelberg, so we had some big exercises when a thousand folks showed up to fight a pretend war. As fate would have it, the Berlin wall had come down not long before my arrival in Germany, so, with peace breaking out all over, there was quite a bit of discussion about who the enemy was supposed to be and what we were supposed to be exercising. NATO subsequently reorganized, but the bunker lived on for a while, only to close a few years after I left. But my family and I had a great time during that tour. There were over 300 officers, enlisted, and civilians from 7 different countries in the unit and when we took time off from figuring out who the enemy was, we had plenty of time to figure out who our friends were and had lots of fun in the process. We even had our own bar on our little Caserne that we dubbed the "Ruppertsweiler International Pub" where we could enjoy a friendly brew or two. We were such good customers that the local brewery (Parkbrau) sent a representative to my change of command ceremony. But I digress . . .
Before returning to the States in 1995, I took my family on a vacation to Normandy and we were able to stop by Dreux and I was able to show them the place that I enjoyed so much as a young guy. That's when I took the pictures that are posted elsewhere on the website.
My wife jokes that once the Pentagon has its claws in you, it's impossible to escape and, sure enough, after 4 years in rural Germany, they managed to find me and bring me back to the Joint Chiefs of Staff where I worked in the National Military Command Center. The Air Force decided that it was time to be "re-blued" to Air Force ways, so I ended up my AF career working on the Air Staff until retiring in 2001 (retirement date was 1 Sept, so the 11 Sept attack on the building happened just before that.)
After retiring from the AF, I went back to work at the Pentagon as a contractor and still work there, although final retirement is looking more and more attractive each day!
Francie and I live in Reston, Virginia (about 20 miles west of Washington, DC) and our two sons, William and John, also live in the local area.