Coleman Barracks/Coleman Army Airfield (ICAO: ETOR) is a United States Army military installation located in the Sandhofen district of Mannheim, Germany. It is assigned to U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR) and administered by the U.S. Army Installation Management Command-Europe (IMCOM-E). Coleman Barracks should not be confused with the former "Coleman Kaserne", located in Gelnhausen. The U.S. Army named the airfield after Lieutenant Colonel Wilson D. Coleman, who was killed in action in France on 30 July 1944.
The first commercial airport in Mannheim was founded on 16 May 1925, as Flughafen Mannheim-Heidelberg-Ludwigshafen in the northern district of Sandhofen. With its opening Mannheim became part of an important air track, running from north to south and vice versa. In the late 1920s and early 1930s Deutsche Aero Lloyd operated cargo and passenger flights from Hamburg to Zürich stopping in Mannheim. Balair from Switzerland flew between Geneva and Amsterdam via Basel, Mannheim, Frankfurt, and Essen. Badisch-Pfälzische Luftverkehrs AG operated the black forest route to Konstanz, via Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden and Villingen.
In 1926 the airfield was transferred to Mannheim-Neuostheim, now called Mannheim City Airport. The airfield in Sandhofen was closed to the public and rebuilt as the Fliegerhorst-Kaserne in 1937 as a Luftwaffe base. At the beginning of World War II, the III/JG 53 (3rd Group, Jagdgeschwader 53) fighter unit "Pik-As" (Ace of Spades) was based here, commanded by one of Germany's top combat pilots, Werner Mölders. This unit operated 43 new Messerschmitt Bf109E-1 fighter aircraft at the start of the war. Also stationed at the airbase on the first day of the war was one Staffel (squadron) of JG 72 operating 16 of the older Arado Ar 68 biplane fighters then being used as a primitive night fighter. In September 1944 a prisoner of war camp was installed on the site which was operated and guarded by the SS, holding 80 POWs from Poland, Luxembourg and Russia.
After World War II, the United States Army took over the barracks in the fall of 1945, giving it the temporary name of "Y-79". Until mid-1949 the area was used as a collecting point for unserviceable automobile material and for surplus storage. In 1951, a replacement depot was established at Coleman Barracks and served as the staging area for all troops arriving in Germany. Throughout its operation by the U.S. Army, rumors circulated of an extensive set of tunnels beneath the airfield. Some of the rumors concerned tunnels under the base and a number of underground hangars behind the barracks of the Signal Corps units. The tunnels and other underground facilities were supposedly flooded after the war. There were reports of an alley that ran behind a cluster of barracks located next to a pronounced slope where numerous bunker entrances were located, all of which were rumored to be locked. Despite any hard evidence, these rumors persisted over the years and stories of hidden Nazi bunkers and underground tunnels were passed on from one generation of soldiers stationed at Coleman to the next.
It is surrounded by Autobahn 6 (A6) to the south and a state highway (Bundesstraße 44 (B44)) to the west; the Mannheim–Frankfurt railway train line (between Frankfurt and Mannheim) runs 1.6 km (1 mi) to the east.