EPPELHEIM, Germany-- Volunteers from U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers tested their brute strength by pushing and pulling an 800-kilogram hay wagon at the Eppelheim City Fest Saturday.

Hundreds of area residents, garrison commander Col. Bryan DeCoster, Command Sgt. Maj. Annette Weber and family members cheered as Spc. Justin Francis, Heidelberg Medical Department Activity, Spc. Brodrick Mungo, Europe Region Medical Command, Spc. Rodney Bicknell, 24th Military Intelligence Battalion, Sgt. Jaret Smith, BOSS president and Spc. James Tesh, HMEDDAC, pushed and pulled the wagon, which weighed about the same as a small American bison for 800 meters.

The group started off strong through the first sand obstacle but by the time they hit the turnaround and the second obstacle, they were beginning to lose a little steam. With determined looks on their faces, the Soldiers finished in four minutes, 32 seconds.

“This was a lot of fun and was a good, new experience, but I didn’t expect it to be this hard. I mean, it is about 1,000 pounds,” Francis laughed.

BOSS was invited to participate in the annual hay wagon haul this year by Eppelheim mayor Dieter Mörlein, who brought the event from partner city Montebelluna, about 67 kilometers from Venice, in 2001.

The event in Italy is arguably more strenuous, with each section of the city competing against each other along a 3-kilometer course, two of which are uphill.

In Eppelheim, the contest was more about teamwork within the groups and partnership with Hungary, France, Italy and the American presence in Baden Württemberg.

“The mayor invited us to participate, and we jumped right in. We definitely finished strong, but it was more about the camaraderie than anything else,” Smith said.

The Hungarian team had only three participants, so Francis volunteered to stand in for their missing buddy, and the rest of the BOSS team brought the team to the finish, to wild cheers from the crowd.

After the event, the Soldiers gathered for traditional German fare like steak with pommes and fresh fruit while children who participated in a smaller-scale version of the hay pull earlier received prizes and students from a local dance school performed a ballet scene and a Spanish dance.

The Soldiers received certificates and were invited to participate again next year.
“We are definitely in next year, but we’ll find some way to practice first. We definitely have this next year,” Mungo said.