Dedicated service: Wiesbaden employee reaches five decade mark
March 13, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany - Half a century.
That's how long Francis Townsend has served his country - as an Airman, Soldier and a Defense Department civilian.
"Seems like I just came into the military," said Townsend, a member of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff. The Rheinblick Golf Course groundskeeper said, "I've learned a lot and I would do it all over again. The military has been such a part of my life."
"This is the first time in U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden history that an employee has been recognized for 50 years of service," said Col. Ray Graham, garrison commander, while honoring the longtime employee at a Length of Service Ceremony in the Community Activity Center Feb. 26. Graham presented Townsend with a certificate signed by Maj. Gen. John MacDonald, deputy commander of the Installation Management Command.
"I started out with the Army and here I am with the Army again (50 years later)," said Townsend, describing his service in the Army, Air Force and as a civilian.
Townsend was joined during the ceremony by Joseph Cooper, Wiesbaden Auto Crafts supervisor, who was recognized for four decades of service.
"It really feels good to me," said Cooper following the ceremony. "That's all I know - taking care of Soldiers and their families."
Cooper, who retired from the military after 24 years of active duty service, said taking care of Soldiers and families during deployments was particularly rewarding.
Albert Haempel, a member of the Directorate of Public Works' Buildings and Grounds staff, was recognized for 35 years of service. Haempel said he first started working for the Wiesbaden military community in 1973 at the Installation Coordinators Office on Camp Pieri. "I didn't speak any English. I took classes in the evenings at the Volkshochschule and practiced my English at work during the day."
Among highlights of his career with the Wiesbaden military community, Haempel said, was being on hand to witness the safe return of the U.S. hostages to the Wiesbaden U.S. military hospital from Iran in January 1981.
All total some 1645 years of service representing more than 3.5 million hours of "hard work and selfless service" were recognized during the ceremony.
Besides the many individuals from around the garrison honored for their dedicated service - from five to 50 years - Gary Smith, from the USAG Wiesbaden Safety Office was awarded the Department of the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service for his "exceptional performance while serving as the Joint Task Force-East safety and occupational health specialist from May to October 2008."
Employees honored during the ceremony were invited to refreshments and granted the traditional 59 minutes off by the commander following the ceremony.