GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Some of the senior retirees of Freihung, Germany spent their bi-weekly trip touring a new and exciting place -- with crew served weapons, and logistical support designed to survive a warzone.
The members of the Freihung Seniors' Club were not in combat, but visiting their partnership U.S. Army unit, the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
The citizens of the historical German city arrived Tuesday afternoon by bus to an unfamiliar location only minutes away from their homes.
Norbert Bucherl, the mayor of Freihung, Lt. Col. John R. Bretthorst, 18th CSSB commander and a native of Poteet, Texas, Command Sgt. Maj. Ian Griffin the 18th CSSB command sergeant major and native of Pittsburg, Texas, and Command Sgt. Maj. Gerhard Lindthaler, the German Bavarian Reservist battalion command sergeant major, received the party at the 18th CSSB headquarters building.
After a brief introduction, the group went to the motor pool, where Soldiers had their equipment on display.
The 18th CSSB Soldiers showcased small arms, machine guns, grenade launchers and heavy tactical transportation equipment rarely seen by the German public.
Sgt. Benjamin Mayer, a supply sergeant with HHC, 18th CSSB, was originally from Weikersheim, Germany. He recently received his U.S. citizenship while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"It was a pleasant feeling and a great opportunity -- not just because I'm proud to be an American soldier, but also to have the ability to communicate with people from my native culture," said Mayer.
"I could tell that (the Freihung citizens) definitely enjoyed being at our company," Mayer added. "They kept on asking me many questions that they otherwise would not have to a non-German speaker."
"We share a lot of common bonds," said Bretthorst. "To have one of our Soldiers who grew up here in Germany stand up in a U.S. uniform and translate helps strengthen the bonds in our communities, and between our countries."
As a part of the demonstration, a 37 foot-tall rough-terrain container handler drove up to a 4,000-pound, empty 20-foot shipping container. The monstrous vehicle extended its boom and moved the container as if it were a toy building block.
Once the RTCH completed its exercise, the operator jumped out, revealing a confident, 4-foot, 11-inch tall Soldier, Spc. Jamie Flowers, a Modesto, Calif. native with the 1st Inland Cargo Transfer Company.
The crowd erupted in amazement and excitement in German, "kleines Mädchen" and "groYe Machinen," describing Flowers' small stature and ability to control the large machine.
"The hospitality that (the Germans) have shown us, and the unit, has been great," said Bretthorst. "It was good having an opportunity for us to reciprocate, to bring them to our motor pool, show them our capabilities and give them an idea of our mission."
The Freihung Seniors' Club left that afternoon grateful for the experience and astonished by what they learned about U.S. military support units and their mission as both Soldiers and logistical professionals.