By Jennifer Clampet, USAG WiesbadenFebruary 22, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany -- Girls from across the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden put a spin on their fathers' welcome home celebrations. They also added a few dips, twists, turns and squeals.
Dads and daughters filled the Wiesbaden Middle School gymnasium for the Feb. 5, Daddy Daughter Dance at the Wiesbaden Middle School gymnasium.
Hosted and coordinated by three area Junior Girl Scouts, the event was open to all girls who were welcoming home a deployed father.
"The inspiration actually came from tears," said 11-year-old Catherine Holinger whose father, Air Force Lt. Col Chris Holinger, with the 1st Air Support Operations Squadron, was deployed for six months in 2010.
After the first two months of the deployment, the tears came, said Catherine. After that, all she could think of was what she would do to welcome him home.
"It makes me feel wonderful and awesome," said Chris Holinger as he stood in the room full of dads. "It's great to see a lot of guys here relaxing and hanging out with their daughters. We're used to seeing each other in a more keyed-up setting, not this relaxed atmosphere. We're not concerned about work here."
While some dads hung close to the gymnasium walls, Senior Airman Timothy Ray, with the 485th Intelligence Squadron, twirled his daughter, Lanah, around the dance floor. She laughed as her dad led her through a few jive turns and a dramatic twirl.
Maj. John Bartholomew, Company D, 52nd Aviation Regiment commander, marshaled his daughter Annabelle through a few dance steps each ending with a giggle-inducing dip.
The event earned three Girl Scouts - Holinger, Ava Bettencourt and Destiny Symmes - their Bronze Awards.
The award is the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can earn and requires focusing on a project that makes a positive impact on the community.
"All their dads were still in Iraq," said Deb Holinger, Catherine's mother. "In the fall these girls stepped forward and said we want to do a daddy-daughter dance. And it won't just be for 1st Armored Division kids or for Girl Scouts, because everyone can have a dad deployed."
According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 150,000 military fathers were deployed for between 30 days to 15 months in 2010. And about 593,000 active duty servicemembers and nearly 300,000 U.S. Reservists are fathers.
Having a dad deployed was common for Wiesbaden garrison children as the 1st Armored Division took more than 900 troops to Iraq in 2010.
"Most of the dads were gone," said Deb Holinger just before she presented the three Girl Scouts with their hard-earned Bronze Awards.
Ava Bettencourt's father was deployed to Iraq with the 1st Armored Division in 2010.
"We talked about (the dance) on Skype for a while," said Bettencourt. "I was really excited about it."
As her eyes darted across the dance floor in search of friends, she hesitantly responded to one last question.
"My dad ... uh ... is not the best (dancer)," she said before smiling and running to the center of the dance floor.