|Airport type Military|
Opened 1 July 2010
|Location Meyenheim, France|
Elevation 693 m
|Operator Chad French Army Regiment (Formerly, French Air Force)|
Quartier Colonel Dio is a French Army installation in Meyenheim, in the Alsace region of France, near the German and Swiss borders. From 1963, when it was opened, it was Colmar–Meyenheim Air Base (Base aérienne d'opérations 132 Colmar-Meyenheim) after being an airfield for Strasbourg-Entzheim. The French Air Force used the base until 2010, when it was turned over to the French Army. It is now the home of the Régiment de marche du Tchad (RMT) (free-translation roughly 'Chad provisional regiment'), one of the most famous and decorated units in the French Army. The base is 15 km south of Colmar, east of Autoroute A35. The base is bordered by farmland to the west, and surrounded by forest on its other sides.
The construction of Colmar–Meyenheim Air Base began in 1951. The first unit to arrive was the 13th Fighter Wing with F-86 Sabres and T-33 trainer aircraft in 1957. Fighter Wing 013 members lived on the base until the unit disbanded on June 23, 1995. Fighter Wing 030 Alsace and Normandie-Niemen were the two squadrons in operation on the base after the disbandment of the 13th Fighter Wing.
The Fighter Squadron 01/030 Normandie-Niémen was formed six months after Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941. The unit was created for cooperation between the Free French and the Soviet Union governments. There were initially 12 fighter pilots serving the German-Russian front, but the group was officially declared Groupe de Chasse GC 3 Normandie on September 1, 1942 with Commandant Pouliquen in command. After training on Yakovlev Yak-7s in January 1943, Commandant Jean Tulasne took command of the group. Between March 22, 1943 and May 9, 1945, the unit destroyed 273 enemy aircraft. It received awards from both France and the Soviet Union: the French Légion d'Honneur and the Soviet Order of the Red Banner. Joseph Stalin awarded the name "Niémen" after the battle of the Neman River in 1944. The group flew to Morocco in March 1947, trading Vulture 11s for the first of the Mirage F1Cs. The EC 02/30 unit departed North Africa on March 13, 1962. In December 1973, the base turned to Air Defense.
Fighter Squadron 02/030 Normandie – Niémen was merged with The Fighter Squadron 01/030 Normandie – Niémen in 2007. The French Government announced in July 2008 that all flying activities at the base would cease one year later. General Jean-Paul Paloméros, the Chief of Air Force Staff, led the ceremony for dissolution of the base. The closure of the base was part of a restructuring of the air force. Six Mirage F1Bs and about twelve F1CTs were planned to relocate to Reims – Champagne Air Base.
The last stage in the base's Air Force history came on 16 June 2010 when the base banner of BAO 132 was furled and transferred to the Service historique de la Défense/Armée de l'air (Defence Historical Service/Air Force) at Vincennes. On 1 July 2010 at midnight, the base became French Army barracks Quartier Colonel Dio.
Air Force equipment and units
Several different aircraft and units were stationed at the base.
The air base hosted a meteorological station maintained by Météo-France; the station was the sixth-driest in France (after Marignane–Marseille Provence Airport, Perpignan, Clermont-Ferrand, Chartres and Évreux) of the French meteorological service network.