WIESBADEN, Germany – U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s School Liaison Office continues to organize German and Department of Defense Education Activity student exchanges, furthering efforts in one of their many initiatives – Partnerships in Education.
During the most recent exchange on February 10, students and teachers from the Wiesbaden High School and Jakob Stoll Schule in Würzburg toured the Wiesbaden high school on Hainerberg, the airfield on Clay Kaserne, and ended the day by attending a basketball game.
“Over the past summer, I met with administrators and teachers at several German schools [who were] excited about engaging. We discussed opportunities to collaborate and had around 12 visits this year, with more planned. The [USAG Wiesbaden] command and City [of Wiesbaden] are supportive and encourage the student cultural interaction,” explained Chris Dickson, school liaison officer at USAG Wiesbaden.
Dickson elaborated that depending on the number of students and time allotted during these exchanges, a variety of garrison facilities are contacted to bring about a structured plan for the day. During the school tour, host nation students experience what a school day looks like for an American student, all while enjoying each other’s company and learning what life is like for their counterparts.
“It’s so different compared to the German schools. The environment is different in the schools and between the teachers and students – not how it is at our schools,” said Rayan Apebob during the tour, a student from Jakob Stoll Schule.
Airfield operations spotlight
Harold T Eggleston Jr, Airfields Division Chief for Airfields Operations Activity Europe West and his team led the group through four stations at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Clay Kaserne, giving a 15–20-minute session at each. The students had the opportunity to learn about base operations, the airfield tower, the aircrafts used, such as airplanes and helicopters, as well as learn about various ground crew responsibilities.
Eggleston explained that the tours "help us remember who we are doing it for, why we do what we do, and educate the students on how we impact the world through our work."
During these tours, Eggleston explained that the Airfield has seen a wide spectrum of age groups – anywhere from elementary schools to high schools – all since COVID-19 started. The airfield had been the only accessible place at the time, as they continued to be operational throughout the virus. The groups tend to vary, from three participants to a group of 50.
“When we first began offering these tours, we weren’t sure of what we wanted to do and what the customers wanted to see. After putting together a template showcasing what we can do and presenting it to them, we are now able to tailor the visits to our customers,” Eggleston explained.
Expecting a group with special needs participants near the end of the month, he further said that the Air Traffic Control tower would be omitted from their schedule, as members may not be able to climb the stairs or feel overstimulated once at higher ground levels. Similarly, this recent group had not been able to visit the tower due to time constraints.
Both Eggleston and Dickson explained that these visits help strengthen the garrison’s community relations, as they provide a snapshot of what goes on behind the scenes at a U.S. Army installation.
Noise abatement considerations
Another important way of maintaining positive relations with the local community is to keep flight traffic from going astray from its usual pattern so that neighbors are not troubled with noise unexpectedly. The airfield management team places great significance on making sure that aircraft entering and exiting the Wiesbaden Army Airfield does not trouble the community; however, Eggleston explained that it is not always as easy as it sounds.
"We put a lot of effort into noise abatement - we know people are asleep, but (sometimes) military pilots must fly at night to be proficient at their jobs," said Eggleston.
At other times an aircraft landing in support of a non-routine mission may need to occur.
He gave an example of the recent earthquake that occurred in Turkey, which the Army provided support for over the following weekend. These type of unexpected flights sometimes result in complaints from the community. Despite this, Eggleston and his team analyze all complaints, and educate the pilots if they are at fault, to avoid repeat offenses.
Eggleston went on to mention a few projects he and his team are looking forward to in the next few years, among which the completion of the new Air Traffic Control tower by the end of August is at the top of their list. The new tower will provide more facilities in comparison to what the workers currently work with.
“The team is great, maybe the best group of people I’ve worked with in my military and civilian career. It’s as if they are able to read my mind and they will do things without me having to tell them to. They are my subject matter experts,” he concluded.