GIESSEN, Germany - A small crowd converged on U.S. Army Garrison Giessen for the command's official closure ceremony Sept. 28.
"Today we stand on historic ground as we close the garrison and return the facilities to our friends in the German host nation," said Col. Ray A. Graham, USAG Hessen commander.
The brief, bittersweet ceremony marked the end of almost 62 years of an Army presence in the greater Giessen area. More than 200 host nation officials and employees, past and present, joined Col. Graham to witness the casing of the colors and the final lowering of the American flag.
"The key to the great success of this garrison has come from the relationships among the people who lived and worked here," Col. Graham said. "American children were born here. Americans married Germans and their children were also born here."
"Many here today," the colonel added, "have played a major role in supporting this garrison over the past several decades. For those who supported us then and now, let me say thank you. You have been gracious hosts and you took care of American Soldiers and their families during their stay.
"Your presence at today's ceremony is evidence of your strong support, even after our troops have left Giessen. The long continuing story of German/American friendship in this area will not be forgotten. I again assure you of my appreciation and gratitude, and tell you that you honor us again today."
Craig Birchard, the garrison manager, recognized the dedication and service of the many employees who worked on the installation throughout the years. Numerous former employees entered Giessen Depot as prisoners of war and were then offered jobs. Many ended up working for the Army for more than 45 years.
After the official ceremony, Col. Graham and Mr. Birchard presented American flags to the mayors of Giessen, Butzbach, Bad Nauheim and Friedberg.