By Ronald H. Toland Jr., USAG Ansbach Public AffairsJuly 22, 2009
ANSBACH, Germany Aca,!" By putting a little unity into community, U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach reclaimed the unofficial Department of Defense record for "a human formation for troop support" during the Largest Desert Ribbon Event held July 10, at Storck Barracks.
USAG Ansbach and 12th Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers, family members, civilian employees, local nationals and distinguished guests from surrounding German communities united to gather more than 3,000 (the official count is still in the works) people into a troop support ribbon on the installation flightline near Illesheim.
The unofficial record breaking has a history among three different U.S. military communities.
Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, Calif., started things off in 2005 with a formation of 800 people. Ansbach threw its hat into the record-breaking ring with a formation of 1,385 people in May 2008. Fort Knox, Ky., got into the mix in November 2008 with a formation of 2,200.
Now the record is back at Ansbach.
Despite ominous storm clouds and the occasional references comparing the formation to "herding cats," the process went off fairly smoothly in about 30 minutes.
It wouldn't have happened, however, without the efforts of the entire Ansbach community, said Col. Robert Doerer, 12th CAB commander.
"Unity through community," he said, noting that when everyone joins together to make events like this happen Aca,!" stopping to recognize, honor and show appreciation for spouses, families and troops Aca,!" it sends a powerful message. "Everyone likes a pat on the back. It is all about the community, and at that point, it is putting the unity back in the community (through) a team effort."
The point was re-emphasized by Col. Christopher Hickey, USAG Ansbach commander, who said he was impressed with the turnout.
"It is great to have our Soldiers here, our garrison workforce and local German officials," he said. "It is a sign of that unity here ... between all the various groups."
While the community has experienced significant turnover in the past year, there were some who remembered last year's event and compared it to the 2009 version.
The big difference' Returning Soldiers.
"We have a lot more people than last year for sure; a lot more guys," said spouse Jennifer Smith. "We were very female heavy last time. It was cool to be a part of the event with my husband this time."
Her husband, Staff Sgt. Jody Smith, 2-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, who was deployed last year, was just as happy to be participating.
"I'm in it!" he said about the formation. "It was an honor to be a part of it with my family."
But the ribbon formation was just one segment of the event as it also featured food, fun, entertainment and a special ceremony recognizing community spouses for their sacrifices and support during a Freedom Team Salute.
Smith said she was touched by salute, especially opening comments on the important role spouses play and how servicemembers could not complete their mission without that support.
"It was really cool; the spouses getting pinned were being recognized for their contributions. It is important ... I cannot really explain it, it just is," she said. "It gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment, in that we are important, too, and now we are in the limelight."
Additionally, single Soldiers were fired up to be a part of the day as well, said Sgt. Wallace Marks, Ansbach Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers acting president.
"We were not involved last year because of the deployment, so this year we got to reap the benefits of it," he said. "It is great because we are here with the people we work with, the families and the garrison staff. All the benefits that come from just being home and not being deployed.
"The interaction amongst people and their families. Just look at the families and kids running around. You obviously can't get that when you are deployed," he added.
Ansbach's show of strength in numbers reaped many individual rewards, said spouse Tammy Doerer.
"This is great because it really shows what the community can do as a whole," said Doerer. "It takes more than a household and more than a unit. It really does."
"If we have the opportunity to stop and take the time to recognize people Aca,!" deployed, not deployed, family members, spouses, Soldiers Aca,!" it is all the better," she said. "It really helps and means a lot when a community does recognize you. Plus it makes you really proud to be an American."