ANSBACH, Germany (April 28, 2023) – U.S. American Soldiers and their German neighbors have a history of more than 75 years living next door to each other in Bavaria. The neighbors turned into friends, and this friendship is fostered and sustained by the locals in the communities around U.S. military installations in Germany. These German neighbors work hard, often for decades and behind the scenes, to ensure that their American friends experience a rich and memorable tour in Germany.
In an effort to show appreciation for their hospitality and friendship extended to the U.S. Army and the military community members, the 7th Army Training Command (7th ATC) hosted the third annual Good Neighbor Award Ceremony April 21 at the General’s Barn on Tower Barracks, Grafenwoehr, Germany.
U.S. Army units stationed in Bavaria nominated a total of nine deserving host nation individuals whose extraordinary efforts increased the quality of life for U.S. Army Soldiers, civilians and their families. This year’s honorees included current and former mayors, brewery owners and a forest director among others.
“The awardees we’re recognizing today are just a small representation of the warmth and openness with which Bavarians treat Americans. You welcome us into your communities, you share your culture and traditions with us - and every Soldier, family member, and contractor who returns to the U.S. after a tour in Bavaria has built a life-long connection between our two countries.” Brig. General Joseph Hilbert, commanding general of 7th ATC, said in his remarks.
For the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, Police Liaison Officer Simone Wiesenberg was recognized. As explained during the introduction, “she demonstrates affinity, solidarity and loyalty with the USAG Ansbach as she continuously supports garrison events, observances and ceremonies – on and off duty.”
Other Ansbach awardees were Peter Plagens, Bundeswehr Sergeant Major (Ret.), who was nominated by the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. His long-standing involvement in facilitating American participation, including earning the German Armed Proficiency Badges and the Schützenschnur or organizing professional development engagements by visiting the German Armed Forces Engagement Skills Trainer, earned him his award.
Christine Stradtner, the pastor of the town of Illesheim, where Storck Barracks is located, was nominated by the 127th Aviation Support Battallion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, the rotational unit currently deployed to Storck Barracks. “I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award by the U.S. Army,” Stradtner said. “As pastor, it is my goal to make everybody feel comfortable and at home here in Illesheim.” Introducing her in his remarks, Hilbert explained: “Ms Stradtner put forth great efforts to facilitate joint religious services, concerts, and fellowship between the local perish and the military religious community. She made herself available to the RAF unit and its leadership with off post engagements, thus easing interaction and communication with the local community and its leaders.”
Thanking the awardees in his remarks, Hilbert reiterated: “While the American military has been in Germany for over 70 years, the relationships we have built cannot be taken for granted. Now, more than ever, our shared resolve is important.” He went on to say: “Our mission and reason for being stationed here has real-world weight that contributes to global security. Our relationships will not grow unless they are protected, cultivated, and seen as an all-important local building stone to international cooperation.”
About the Good Neighbor Award: The Good Neighbor Award was initiated in 2021 by Brig.General Christopher Norrie, the Senior Responsible General (SRO) for USAGs Ansbach and Bavaria. It honors host nation partnership and commitment to the German-American friendship in the Bavarian communities. The award ceremony recognizes individuals who have significantly supported U.S. Soldiers, civilians and families stationed in the region.