The Cannon King's Daughter

An unrecorded banishment from Germany's Krupp steel family

Archive for September 2014

Author David Stroebel to Participate in Jersey City Book Festival

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David Stroebel, author of the book, “The Cannon King’s Daughter,” will be participating in the Jersey City Free Public Library’s, “Tales of our City,” book festival being held next Sunday, September 21, 2014, at the Grove Street Pavilion in Jersey City.

Stroebel penned his book after three elderly relatives came forward with century-old revelations, photographs and documents revealing to him that his great-grandmother’s true identity was that of Engelbertha Krupp, who was banished and disinherited from Germany’s Krupp steel dynasty of Essen, known for their production of armaments for Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

In 2013, Stroebel challenged his great-grandmother’s constitutional right in Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court to half of the Krupp works net worth. The court ruled his petition was not a constitutional issue.

Stroebel is currently conducting DNA tests on several Krupp dynasty descendants from different parts of the world in hopes of a match. But he warns that FamilyTreeDNA has instructed him that candidates must not be any further away than five generations from Alfred Krupp, his twice great-grandfather who banished his daughter, Engelbertha, for failing to break off a wedding engagement to John Joseph Stroebele, a poor shoemaker.

FamilyTree has also warned Stroebel that only 1 match in 8 will carry DNA markers matching his DNA to Alfred Krupp and thus an undeniable connection to Germany’s largest and wealthiest steel maker.

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What I saw on 9/11

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What I saw on 9/11: My view from a New Jersey F-16 Fighter Wing

By David Stroebel

It was Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001. I arrived at my Air National Guard unit- the 177th Fighter Wing, located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to make up a drill weekend. The wing is located 122 miles south of New York City, a mere eight minute trip in an F-16 fighter aircraft traveling at subsonic speed. It is also the closest fighter wing to New York versus the 102d Fighter Wing in Falmouth, MA and the 113th Fighter Wing at Andrews AFB, MD. The sky was clear blue and there was a slight chill in the air. I was in my office when I was notified that everyone on duty that day must report outside to the aircraft apron area to help with a morning FOD (Foreign Object Damage) walk. FOD is anything such as rocks, metal, litter, etc., that can cause engine damage if an F-16 sucks it into its engine. I finished and head to the dining hall to get a bite for breakfast and bring it back to my desk.

On my way back, there were two other Guardsman in the suite outside my office watching the news. As I gazed at the screen, I saw smoke pouring out of one of the World Trade Towers. “Must be a new movie shooting in New York City,” I thought to myself. “Great Photoshop affects,” I thought. “What’s going on,” I ask one of them Airman. Then came the words that will forever be etched permanently in my mind: “a plane hit the World Trade Center.” My thoughts immediately were that a small Cessna aircraft had crashed into the north tower. As soon as I finished processing my thoughts, we witnessed the live footage of a second airliner hit the south tower. Stunned, and watched the impact of the second plane hit with surrealism. It took only a few seconds for me to realize that this was a terrorist attack we were witnessing. I raced to my computer to verify on CNN that I had not imagined what I had just seen. It was there. I made a few calls to my mother and siblings to tell them of what I had just seen. I also notified the wing executive officer knowing he did not have access to a television in his office.

It was very soon thereafter that an announcement blared through the intercom system of our wing headquarters building, something I had never experienced before, that the Survival Recovery Center (SRC) was being activated and that all essential personnel to report immediately. In Air Combat Command, the nerve center of a wing is called an SRC. In Air Mobility Command, it is called the CAT (Crisis Action Team). It was now “game on.” I knew immediately what we were preparing to do: arm and launch as many of our F-16’s as possible toward New York City as quickly as possible. My job as a wing historian was to write an annual, detailed narrative history of the air and ground operations of the 177th Fighter Wing and this was an unprecedented opportunity to do just that first-hand.

Upon hearing the activation of the SRC, I began running out of my office towards it. I know my job description, security clearance and need-to-know granted we access to any area and documentation in the wing. I knew it was paramount that I get a seat in the SRC to begin capturing the events as they happened if they were to be captured at all. I saw the newly-assigned vice wing commander, who was a full-bird Colonel, running down the hall for the SRC, and having not even met the man yet, I quickly introduce myself as the wing historian and could I follow him into the SRC. I had not yet been issued a line badge, and without it there was no chance getting into the SRC on my own without one. It was a heavily-guarded room for senior wing leadership. He paused for a split second, and then said, “come on.” He pulled out his line badge and an armed security forces troop standing guard brandishing an M-16 weapon outside the first of two fortified door of the SRC checks his face against his badge and let us in.

Approaching a second door, another armed security forces troop again verifies his credentials and allows us to enter the main nerve center of the wing. This was my first time in an activated command center and every unit commander and their key enlisted personnel had authority to be there. There were two televisions in the SRC showing CNN news. There was a long table and in front of each chair were about a dozen telephones and a name plaque for each unit (civil engineering, security forces, etc.). All around me I saw and heard these key personnel talking on telephones. They were presumably communicating with their “functionals” at 1st Air Force and with outside agencies as I later did with the FBI command post in Newark. Our wing had personnel and aircraft deployed to Fort Drum, New York, which left us with a few F-16’s that were not yet configured with ammunition or missiles should they be needed to bring down a passenger jet. It was the wing’s primary goal to arm the few F-16’s we had on the ground as rapidly as possible so that they could be launched toward New York City to prevent further attacks.

The 177th Fighter Wing Commander, Colonel Mike Cosby, was not at the unit when the attacks commenced, but arrived a short time later in his olive-drab flight suit and assumed his position as senior officer in charge. He was remarkably cool, composed and unshakable amidst the chaos. He could have easily reminded you of John Wayne with his cool but confident demeanor. He was the right man at the right time. He ordered the closure of the Base Exchange and locked-down the base to essential military personnel to ensure we would not be deterred in carrying out our mission of launching our aircraft-which were still on the ground while reservist maintenance crews were called in from home and the work to rapidly arm them commenced at a feverish pace.

While others in the SRC were busy on telephones coordinating with outside law enforcement agencies, breaking news on CNN caught my attention as I was the only person now watching the news as this was just as important to my job as anything else was that day. CNN was reporting that another aircraft had crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37am EST. I immediately interrupted the senior officer on duty, support group commander Colonel Eugene Chojnacki, to inform him of this, but he dismissed it by saying they were probably wrong. I again repeated that CNN was reporting that aircraft had indeed impacted the Pentagon. He was stunned as I was that we were witnessing such a highly-coordinated attack.

We learn that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) located deep inside the Cheyenne Mountains in Colorado had moved its defense posture from DEFCON (Defense Condition) 5 to DEFCON 3 and has taken direct control of our wing to respond to the terror attacks. Since our unit’s fighter interceptor mission was inactivated in 1998 (along with its alert facility), our fighter pilots needed a facility where they could occupy in close proximity to the flight line so they could rapidly egress the facility to awaiting vehicles that would drive them to awaiting F-16 aircraft. The wing commander made the decision that the 119th Fighter Squadron pilot briefing room would be used for this purpose until the alert facility at the launch-end of the runway could be made available. While occupying this briefing room on September 11, pilots were scrambled for an unidentified aircraft approaching Atlantic City International Airport- the same runway shared with the 177th. Hearing a panicked 119th Fighter Squadron Master Sergeant who had taken a scramble alert phone call, I could hear the fright in her voice when she yelled something very close to: ”SCRAMBLE ALERT: UNIDENTIFIED IN-BOUND AIRCRAFT. SCRAMBLE- SCRAMBLE- SCRAMBLE!” The look of fright on the face of the younger pilot (a first lieutenant) as he bounced off one of the glass doors running out to the flight line was a haunting image from that day I will not forget. In the end, it turned out to be a state police aircraft that had not notified the FAA, who had hours earlier shut down all air travel that they were in the air.

At approximately 10:55am EST (per my watch) the unmistakable roar of afterburners could be heard throughout our small installation signaling that we had achieved our goal of finally getting our fighters in the air and on their way to New York City. During the following days weeks and months after the attacks, NORAD scheduled our CAP’s (combat air patrols) over New York City, Washington and Philadelphia. An audible message would be broadcasted over the building’s intercom system alerting aircrews to the time they would launch and which city to fly over. This way no one from our wing knew in advance when and where our aircraft would fly our CAP’s depriving our adversaries of any advantage.

The men and women of the 177th played an important role that day in 2001 and each carries with them the memories and scars of loved ones, family and friends they lost.