Hoping to have a vehicle waiting to transport his weary air crewmen to their barracks, Lieutenant Ormand Fowler radioed the tower at Rhein-Main field near Frankfurt, Germany, requesting a “set of wheels” be dispatched as soon as possible. As he shut down the engines of his R5D aircraft, he was astonished—then amused—to see a U.S. Air Force pickup truck approaching, carrying a fresh set of aircraft wheels in its bed. To Fowler’s Air Force brethren, “wheels” meant wheels!
The misunderstanding was not unusual in 1948 as the Navy and the newly formed Air Force took part in one of the earliest joint operations in the Cold War. Despite the differences in their jargon, members of the two armed services were together making history in one of the most amazing noncombat, but strategically vital, operations in history.