WIESBADEN, Germany - "One need not wear a uniform to serve."

That was the focus June 21 as Col. David Carstens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, honored 945 years of combined service contributed by garrison employees at a Length of Service Ceremony.

"This garrison and this community could not survive without you. … You have helped manage so much change, so well, in such a short period of time," Carstens said. "From welcoming Headquarters USAREUR to reintegrating the redeployed V Corps Headquarters, to conducting oversight of hundreds of millions of dollars of military construction projects to the upkeep of a garrison consisting of 19 sites spread over 40-plus square kilometers, to expanding, always expanding, the wide array of child care and recreational services provided to the community … your achievements as the backbone for this community, our continuity, our experience base, are too many to mention."

During the ceremony, employees were honored for from five to 45 years of service with the U.S. forces.

Among those recognized was Norbert Dauer, a host nation employee with the Directorate of Public Works' electrical branch, who will wrap up his career in August after more than 45 years of service.

"I always wanted to work in this field," said Dauer, who started working for the Wiesbaden military community in 1968.

Dauer, who praised his coworkers over the years, said it was hard to recollect a highlight of his time with the U.S. military. "There were good days and bad days," he said.

Vincent Cromartie of the Directorate of Human Resources and Albert Haempel with the Directorate of Public Works were each recognized for having contributed 40 years of service.

"I've come a long way," said Cromartie, who began his career as a GS-5 mail clerk after retiring from the military.

Cromartie, who said the upcoming furlough would be his second go-around with the government's mandatory employee layoff, added that he didn't think he would work so long for Uncle Sam when he began his career.

"I'm thankful - can't complain. … I couldn't have done it without all of the employees who have helped me along the way. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here today."

Likewise, Haempel, a gardener for the garrison who intends to work for five more years before retiring, said he also didn't envision such a lengthy career with the U.S. military 40 years ago.

"When I started in September 1973 I had very bad English. In 1974 I started learning English in night school and practiced at work during the day," Haempel said, adding that he always liked the "take-it-easy" attitude of his American colleagues.

Several employees were recognized for 35 years including Lothar Gerhardt, Walter Maehlig, Gordon Adam, Gebhard Dillmann and Roger Gerber.

Carstens and Command Sgt. Maj. Sa'eed Mustafa also presented two special awards during the ceremony. Chrystal Smith and Wendy Brown of the garrison's Public Affairs Office received Achievement Medals for Civilian Service for their work on the garrison's revamped website and with the Herald Union newspaper respectively.

"I can only say thank you," said the garrison commander to all of those honored, "for your dedication, service, professionalism, a smile at every front door service and for every time you help a Soldier and or family member find his or her way. A most sincere thank you for a job well done."