The last voice fell silent: Bremerhaven AFN legend Bill Boyd is deceased
AFN Bremerhaven (American Forces Network) is turned off for a long time. The former US soldier channel went offline more than 20 years before. Now even the last great voice of the cult radio station has died away forever. "Bill" Boyd, the last broadcasting head of AFN Bremerhaven, passed away on 20 December 2015 in Tucson / Arizona. On 31 March 1993 Bill moderated in tears the last radio broadcast of the world’s smallest and most successful AFN power station. He himself had always defined it as the most difficult task that he had to take from the stations (his baby) AFN Bremerhaven.
Wilfort P. Boyd Jr. - As was Bill’s civil name was trained as a journalist and lived a total of seven years in Bremerhaven. More than half of his total military time he had spent in Germany. From 1988 to 1993 he was the last broadcasting head of the AFN station in the seaside town. Under his leadership, the world's smallest AFN station became the globally most successful one. This incredible success was followed, unfortunately, by a big pain. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain US troops sites in Bremerhaven and in Garlstedt (OHV) were closed. Thus, the station from the perspective of the military lost its raison d'être. Boyd had to close "his" station.
Masterfully and dutifully he took on this task and shut down the station properly. All technical equipment still usable and part of the records were brought to the US offices in Frankfurt / Oder and Heidelberg. Thousands of records and broadcast tapes were destroyed (under military supervision) meanwhile. By his own account this task broke his heart. Bill said time and again that it had felt to him as if he would bury a family member. On 31 March 1993 Bill moderated the last show of AFN Bremerhaven. At 12 o’clock his charismatic voice came for the last time on the transmitter. "And now a last time: Good bye from, and good bye to - AFN Bremerhaven.” In the end of Bill could no longer hold back his tears. After 48 years of broadcasting the station was switched off.
After retiring from the military Bill and his wife Judy returned to the US. At first continued to be on air. Later, he started a second career as a teacher at a high school. Friends and colleagues especially valued Bill’s wonderful sense of humor, his quiet strength and his sharp intellect. He also had a big heart for military veterans and was also a very dedicated animal friend. Together with his wife and the dachshunds "Abbey", "Fritzie" and "Joey" he lived in a large housing estate in sunny Arizona. What many do not know: the former AFN man had suffered for more than 20 years from the rare autoimmune disease scleroderma. In recent years, his health decreased. Because of this he could not be at the "Reunion 2015" - a meeting of former US officials and soldiers, which took place in Bremerhaven last September.
It was particularly sad for Bill, when he heard that his former place of work - the old AFN building –was to be demolished for the required extension of the rail at the port. The demolition of the building, which was the soundtrack of generations of Bremerhavens, he will not have to experience now. Bill died on the afternoon of December 20, 2015 in his own living room in company of his wife and his beloved dachshunds Abbey, Fritzie and Joey. He will be buried in spring 2016 at the Arlington National Cemetery, where President John F. Kennedy is also buried. Many friends and former companions said farewell via his Facebook presence and a special obituary page. "Good Bye from, and good bye to - Bill Boyd". Marco Butzkus (transl. Alexander Krock)
Here you can find some movies about the farewell of AFN-Bremerhaven:
Buten & Binnen 31. March 1993
"AFN Profile-Special" about the AFN-History onAFN (in English)
Close of the Station Report on AFN (in English)