BAUMHOLDER, Germany – Community and military leaders gathered July 2 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Americans serving in this historic military community that’s seen history unfold over decades of service.
A former standalone garrison until 2013, the Baumholder Military Community -- part of U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz -- holds a special place in many Americans hearts as a first duty station or one of their favorite follow-on assignments.
The community celebrated the event one-year after the actual anniversary due to restriction placed by the pandemic. Close to 100 people attended, including the commander of 21st Theater Sustainment Command Maj. Gen. James Smith, the Baumholder District Mayor Bernd Alsfasser, city mayor Gunther Jung, leaders from the garrison and a host of others.
The anniversary celebration also occurred as hundreds of Americans and others celebrated Independence Day in a garrison-sponsored event on Baumholder with fireworks, food and festivity.
“Baumholder has always been ‘tip of the spear’ for Army activities and that continues even today,” said Michael Amarosa, deputy to the garrison commander for USAG Rheinland-Pfalz. “That we can finally come together and celebrate this amazing milestone with our partners and friends in the community is long overdue.”
District Mayor Alsfasser echoed Amarosa’s words.
“Finally we can celebrate this, in my eyes, a special anniversary. This friendship is something very special. Where can you find a U.S. installation that is so integrated into civilian life as here in Baumholder?” Alsfasser said.
Jae Kim, deputy garrison manager for the Baumholder Military Community, said the strength of the partnership he shares with Mayors Alsfasser and Jung is second to none.
There is one brigade and four battalion sized unit anchored in the Baumholder Military Community. The largest is commanded by Army Col. Angel Estrada, commander of the 16th Sustainment Brigade. He provided remarks for the event, saying “Through our highs and our lows, the Americans and Germans of Baumholder Community have created a bond which, I believe, will continue for generations to come.”
“The past 70 years has taught us much about each other. We have Americans working with Germans to coordinate training areas and ranges. We have Germans working in our Military Processing Detachment to ensure our Soldiers are processed in to the base successfully. We have weekly social gatherings where Americans and Germans get together to practice each other's languages and learn about each other's culture first hand,” he said.
Baumholder’s military origins started in WWII, when the German government appropriated about 30,000 acres of land and resettled about 840 families from 14 villages for use. After the war, the French occupied the site. The Americans followed in 1951. Today, it is the home to about 9,000 Soldiers, families and contractors.
Gen. George Casey and the late Gen. Ray Odierno, former Army chiefs of staff, were commanders here. The post was the headquarters for the kickoff of Operation Atlantic Resolve and has also seen visits from President Gens. (Note: more on the history of Baumholder can be found at https://www.army.mil/article/241730/)
Bernd Mai, a Baumholder native and garrison employee, recently finished a book about the German-American relationship in the region titled Americans in Baumholder. He said through groups like the city’s German-American Friendship Committee and events like the anniversary celebration, the link between Americans and Germans grows stronger
“In these times, when the military is often associated only with weapons and war, such events and get-togethers are all the more important,” said Mai. “Events that show how German-American friendship works, even at the lowest level, how two nations can live side by side. And that over 70 years. That is what Baumholder is all about.”