ILLESHEIM, Germany—Over 150 community members, city council officials, mayors, and family members visited Storck Barracks today during a bicycle tour held annually on Whit Monday.
U.S. Soldiers have been stationed at Storck Barracks in Illesheim for nearly 80 years. With the longstanding presence of U.S. Troops in Germany, the close partnership our two nations share is ever-present here in Bavaria.
Strong and enduring community relationships remain critical to the U.S. Army mission worldwide.
The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade (1ACB), currently headquartered at Storck Barracks for a nine-month Atlantic Resolve rotation, hosted the visit on Monday designed to connect local communities with the U.S. Army in a relaxed and low-stress engagement.
Cyclists rode to Storck Barracks in large groups from the neighboring villages of Geslau, Colmberg, Buch am Wald and Geslau, communities around which the rotational aviation brigades typically fly.
Ages ranged from 10 years old to nearly 80. All seemed eager to interact with the Soldiers and visit the base, most of them for the first time.
Maj. Chaz Allen, 1ACB executive officer and UH-60 Blackhawk pilot, greeted the masses as they entered the airfield.
“Gutnachbarlich means good neighbor. Today, 1ACB had the chance to meet many,” Allen reflected. “The Whit Monday Bicycle Tour afforded our Troopers the pleasant opportunity to showcase our helicopters and crash rescue team at Storck Barracks. We were impressed by the turnout and their genuine interest in Army Aviation. Though they had already bicycled some 20 km to get to us, not a single one of the 160 neighbors lacked a smile. What a great event.”
Soldiers guided the cyclists to a parking area for the bikes. Once parked, the group moved to the dining facility where they ate with and like Air Cav Troopers. Fried and baked chicken, meatballs, fish, pasta, hot wings, cheeseburgers, a full salad bar, fresh fruit, and pastries outlined the bulk of the meal. Everyone seemed more than happily satiated as they exited the dining room.
After lunch, cyclists moved back to the airfield to chat with pilots and crewmembers for the CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Blackhawk and HH-60 Medevac helicopters.
Although the bike tour is an annual occurrence, this is the first time the group has toured Storck Barracks. The Mayor of Geslau, Mr. Richard Strauss, initiated the outing. Mrs. Helga Moser, community liaison specialist of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, worked with 1ACB to finalize the logistical plan.
“Illesheim is my home,” reflected Moser. “Storck Barracks is very special to me. Building and maintaining strong community relations is so important. We have a strong bond between the U.S. Army and our surrounding villages. Events like this help to make the bond even stronger.”
Spc. Dina Grass, 15T UH-60 Blackhawk mechanic originally from Aalen, Germany, accompanied and assisted the German visitors, providing translations and helping answer questions.
“Today was a good day; a nice show of cohesion between our two countries,” said Grass. “I enjoyed mingling with the residents and telling them more about what we do and how things operate here.”
The visitors were inquisitive and friendly with the American Soldiers, asking about what a day in the U.S. Army is like, U.S. cavalry history and how one earns their spurs. Everyone seemed especially interested in the Cav hat.
The local fire brigade stationed on Storck Barracks also displayed three different fire trucks. Before departure, the fire brigade awed the group with the water spraying power of one of the trucks.
Upon the 3-hour visit completion, the crowd of bikes and people followed a fire truck escort out the front gate.