German-American friendship endures beyond farewells
July 7, 2011
EPPELHEIM, Germany - There was plenty of potato salad, pretzels, sauerkraut and schnitzel to literally feed an Army during the German-American Friendship picnic held in honor of outgoing U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg Commander Col. Bill Butcher.
The event, hosted by Eppelheim Mayor Dieter Mörlein was the city’s gift to the departing leader.
Over the past two years, the men forged a close personal and professional relationship while working to cement ties between their communities. In April, Butcher and Mörlein signed an official friendship proclamation between the city of Eppelheim and the garrison.
“The time he has been here, a friendship has been built that I have not built with any other previous commander,“ Mörlein said. “I wish him a safe journey and I hope that I will one day see him back in Eppelheim.”
Butcher also spoke kind words about the mayor and his own plans to possibly return to the city he has grown so fond of.
“I am honored to be in the presence of the mayor, who is not only a tremendous public official but also a tremendous friend. We’ve had a great relationship here over the past two years that will be in my and Sandra’s memories for as long as we live,” Butcher said.
“I joked with the mayor about wanting to come back to Eppelheim and be his deputy and it’s only a half-hearted joke because it’s such a wonderful community,” Butcher said.
“It’s such a friendly environment here and it’s close to home and we truly appreciate all that you do for us,” he added.
The two also exchanged gifts during the picnic and greeted guests coming to share in the festivities.
Several Soldiers from USAG Baden-Württemberg Garrison and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers attended the picnic.
Spc. Alan Pentico, a chaplain’s assistant from USAG BW Headquarters and Headquarters Company and a member of the Utah National Guard, happily dug into a plate piled high with traditional German foodstuffs.
“This is my first time eating authentic German food and it’s really good and being here has also been a wonderful experience, ” the Utah native said, while sampling a chunk of white sausage.
“I’ve been wanting to come over here to Germany and experience the culture and the people and I’m finally here,” Pentico said.
While Pentico savored his new German experiences, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Rabb, USAG BW Headquarters and Headquarters Company, reflected on the importance of the community’s relationship with our host nation.
The San Antonio native is finishing up his second tour here and preparing to retire later this year.
“We’ve built that confidence and trust over the years and as a result we’ve grown stronger and I think we have to keep that going for the rest of the time that the military remains in Germany and the stronger we stay together the better we can go out and be able to fight, ” Rabb said.
During the picnic, guests were entertained by the Besenflreunde band who played German and American tunes, including “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and John Denver’s “Country Roads.”
This was the first time the Eppelheim community has ever hosted this type of event for an outgoing commander.
Butcher relinquished his command to Col. Bryan DeCoster July 7 at the Patrick Henry Village Pavilion in Heidelberg.