By Karl WeiselApril 25, 2007
He got his first sight of American Soldiers and his first taste of chocolate on March 30, 1945. Now, slightly more than 62 years after U.S. forces entered Budingen, Germany, Jules August Schroder said witnessing them leaving is an emotional experience.
Schroder, like many of the German and American guests on hand to bid farewell to the Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, during the unit's April 24 inactivation ceremony at Armstrong Barracks, said, "for me it's a sad day, a sad feeling. For 90 percent of my life, I've lived with the Americans here in Budingen. I had a lot of American friends, and it was a really good community."
Schroder was 11 years old as World War II drew to a close in Europe. Before moving to Budingen his family had lived through massive Allied bombing raids in Hamburg, where his house was destroyed by fire.
"I think I'm the only one here who actually saw the Americans arrive," said Schroder of the day Allied troops marched into the city.
He also remembered the sight of Americans storming a Nazi headquarters near where he lived and collecting Nazi paraphernalia as trophies.
As Schroder's father served as a translator for the U.S. military after the war, his family had many contacts with Americans and he grew up with American friends, he said.
For American Legion member Carl Hackworth, saying goodbye to the 1-1 Cav. was like bidding farewell to a piece of his life, he said.
"I was stationed here from 1965 to 1967. I met my wife here, got out of the military and have been here since then," said Hackworth.
"This is a sad day for the Americans, but symbolizes transformation for this cavalry unit," said Col. Darryl A. Williams, 1st Armored Division's Division Artillery commander, during the ceremony.
Col. Williams praised the close bonds between the German and American communities over the years, and looked forward to a time when 1-1 Cav. would be reactivated. "This inactivation will be temporary because you can't keep a good unit down."
"Today is about history, traditions and the future," said Lt. Col. Matthew F. McKenna, 1-1 Cav.'s commander, "not only about the history and traditions of 1-1 Cav., but also about the history and traditions of the squadron with the city of Budingen. We are part of history today - the inactivation of the oldest and most decorated cavalry squadron in the U.S. Army. Both the squadron and the city of Budingen can be proud of our many accomplishments."
Lt. Col. McKenna also underscored the welcome Americans have always felt in Budingen.
"I have been stationed in many places during the last 18 years, and I can tell you that no other city in the world cares more about their U.S. Army unit than Budingen. Whether it is sharing Thanksgiving and Christmas together, or any of the other social events we do together, we have always felt the warmth and welcome of the city."
"Sixty-two years is a long time together, and we will always remember the kindness of the city of Budingen," he said.