GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – The number one song was ‘Night Fever’ by the Bee Gees. Grease was the world’s biggest movie. Nike redefined the running shoe. LaserDisc players just hit the stores. Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. And Jimmy Carter was the U.S. President.
The year was 1978, and Juergen Nisi was just starting his career journey. Forty-four years later, the maintenance manager is now in his final stages of a lifetime of service with the U.S. Army. A German local national civilian employee with the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s Base Support Operations Maintenance in Grafenwoehr, Nisi is retiring in November.
Nisi said he started as a mechanic in Mannheim at Spinelli Barracks performing repairs on army prepositioned stocks – tactical equipment such as 2.5-ton and 5-ton trucks, for example.
“I did that for four years before being offered a shop foreman position for tracked vehicles like M60 tanks and M109 howitzers,” said Nisi. “Later on, the M1 Abrams tanks were introduced, and I had the chance to go to Vilseck (Germany) to school a couple of times to learn the systems.”
Nisi went on to become a general foreman in Mannheim until 2012 when it was announced that Spinelli Barracks was closing.
“I immediately started looking for another job, and luckily I received a job here,” said Nisi who has been working at BASOPS Maintenance for about 10 years.
After 44 years of technical and maintenance work with the Army, Nisi said oddly enough it still kind of feels like yesterday.
“It was a really short time,” said Nisi. “It went by really fast.”
“On the day I came to the U.S. Army, my father told me that there were mechanic jobs open at Spinelli Barracks with the U.S. Army,” said Nisi, “so I thought ‘okay, I’ll work there for maybe one or two years, and then I’ll find another job in the Mannheim area.’”
“But I’m still here,” said Nisi who turns 64 in November. “It’s been a fantastic career. I had really good mentors and leaders in front of me. They always treated me like a person should be treated, they always kept me informed, and they helped bring me up to the next level.”
Nisi said upon retirement he and his wife will visit the U.S. for almost five months. They plan to travel to New York City, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans and the whole state of Florida. Their son is working at Disney World for a year so they’ll of course go there, but Florida alligator farms are also high of his list, he said.
“I really enjoyed seeing an alligator farm in 2005,” said Nisi, who now wants to show his wife. “When they feed those alligators they jump out of the water. I was really impressed.”
Nisi and his wife have their son in Florida, but they also have a daughter as well as two twin grandsons who all live in Mannheim.
“They’ll be 8-years-old this year so we would like to enjoy more time with them and spend more time with them,” said Nisi, who plans to move back to Mannheim – his home and the home of his wife.
As a field operating activity under the 405th AFSB, BASOPS Maintenance provides equipment maintenance support to all garrison community organizations and activities in Germany. It provides consolidated material maintenance support for base support operations equipment and mechanical safety inspections for privately owned vehicles. It performs automotive maintenance on a fleet of garrison support vehicles to include special purpose and armored vehicles, fire and rescue, snow and ice removal and construction equipment such as scoop loaders, excavators, scrapers, road graders, tractors, rollers, and more.
The 405th AFSB is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging the U.S. Army Materiel Command materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website and the official Facebook site.