By Mr. Charles K Stadtlander (IMCOM)March 16, 2011
SCHWEINFURT, Germany-Commanders and first sergeants from 9th Engineer Battalion left here early on March 7, headed from their current duty station to a place where the unit cemented its importance in U.S. Military History: the Ludendorff bridge over the Rhine River, better known in World War II history as the Bridge at Remagen.
The staff ride commemorated the 66th anniversary of when the 9th Engineers, then part of the 9th Armored Division, came upon the bridge while it was still intact and retook it from German forces. The strategically vital move became part of World War II lore, and the 9th Engineers' capture of the bridge has appeared in films and video games as a famous turning point of the war.
According to 1st Lt. John Brooks, the battalion's information officer, the Soldiers in attendance learned about the history of the bridge and their unit's particular importance to holding possession of it from Kurt Klerman, curator of the museum that currently stands on the historic site. Though the bridge spanning the river is now gone, the picturesque stone towers still stand as both a symbolic and physical memorial to the former glories there.
After the ceremony, 14 battalion Soldiers took an oath of reenlistment in front of the towers, according to Brooks. Family and friends were on hand to congratulate the Soldiers.
After the swearing-in, battalion commander Lt. Col. Jayson Gilberti recognized the town with thanks for its partnership with the battalion and the U.S. Army, and along with Remagen city council member Hans-Joachim Bergmann, laid a commemorative wreath on the historic site.
Bergmann spoke to the assembled crowd about how the current friendship between Germans and Americans can help us to avoid the heinous events of the past. He presented Gilberti with a stone from the bridge as a memento of the visit. The U.S. Soldiers then joined the local officials and museum curator for a meal at a local restaurant.
The reenlisting Soldiers will join the 9th Engineer Battalion on their deployment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2011.