WIESBADEN, Germany - Garrison leaders recognized employees for saving millions of dollars and having dedicated more than 1,400 years of service during a ceremony in the Community Activity Center Sept. 10.

"When I think of the hard work and dedicated representatives in this room, I am humbled," said Col. Jeffrey Dill, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander.

Referring to the common perception of noncommissioned officers as being the "backbone of the Army," Dill said that "over a lifetime of affiliation with the U.S. Army I've come to realize that civilian employees are the backbone of the community."

Dill and Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Prince awarded certificates, cash and letters of recognition to more than 100 garrison employees during the ceremony which focused on the successful completion of special projects resulting in financial savings and length of service.

The ceremony led off by honoring several groups of individuals involved in the Lean Six Sigma program aimed at making the garrison a more effective and efficient organization. Thanks to their efforts, more than $3 million were saved, according to community leaders.

Leaders of the Lean Six Sigma teams recognized included Joyce Green (Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation team), Sabine Schindler (Directorate of Logistics team), Erica Reichel (Directorate of Public Works/Transformation Stationing Management Office team), Paul Howard and Austin Moore (Directorate of Emergency Services team) and David Wright (Lean Six Sigma black belt and trainer).

Letters of thanks were presented to Wayne Sisk of the garrison's Directorate of Human Resources on behalf of Col. John S. Kem, commander of the Europe District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Diane Devens, Installation Management Command-Europe.

Four employees were honored for having dedicated a total of 160 years of service. Waldamar Feliciano, chief of DPW's Housing Division; Christopher Franzmann with the Directorate of Resource Management's Budget Branch, Werner Kiedrowitz with DPW's Electrical Branch and Francesco Milazzo with DPW's Heating Branch were recognized for 40 years of service each.

'Make the best of it'
"It's been a great experience," said Feliciano, a military veteran. "I've always tried to make the best of it - to keep my spirits up and to stay positive."

Feliciano, who said he is looking forward to retirement at the end of 2010, added that while the job was challenging at times, he is proud of having established a family and the work experience.

"I learned a lot personally and professionally over the years," said Kiedrowitz, explaining that having the opportunity to meet so many different people from so many different backgrounds was a fascinating opportunity. "The job was fun. There were challenges, but I overcame them. I learned a lot."

Although not sure if he would remain with the U.S. Army early in his career after having answered a job ad seeking young electricians, "after 40 years here I am still. If I hadn't liked the job I wouldn't have stayed. I've made great friendships."

Forty years ago Francesco Milazzo had just finished service in the Italian Army when his brother told him about a job with the U.S. military community in Wiesbaden. Although he only spoke a little German and no English, that didn't stop him from enjoying a lengthy career.

When asked how he felt on the occasion, his answer was simple - "older."

For 40-year veteran Franzmann and 35-year honoree Kenneth Isted, assistant chief of prevention for DES's Fire Protection Division, their lengthy relationship with the U.S. military started after music and romance brought them to stay in Germany. Both first traveled from their native Great Britain to Germany with touring rock bands which played clubs and other venues.

"I came to Germany as a musician, met a girl, fell in love," said Franzmann, who spent many years working for the U.S. military in Giessen before ending up in Wiesbaden.

Isted, too, spent several years playing music on the club scene before marrying a German woman and eventually deciding to seek employment in Bad Kreuznach where he went on to serve as the fire chief for 20 years before coming to Wiesbaden in 2001.

"I enjoyed the diversity," said Franzmann, "made great acquaintances - mostly great people. It was a great opportunity to work with Americans, to understand their culture - many people with big hearts."

After 40 years of having left his English band, Franzmann said he still enjoys pulling out the Les Paul and Marshall amp occasionally and "fiddling around on acoustic."

Garrison leaders also recognized employees for 30, 25, 20, 15, 10 and five years of service during the awards ceremony.

"Thank you very much for all your years of service - we couldn't do it without you," said the commander in conclusion.