By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)August 12, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - German and American leaders were on hand to welcome V Corps back to Hessen Aug. 12.
Hessen state and city officials joined U.S. Army Europe Soldiers and Families in witnessing the uncasing of the V Corps colors in a ceremony at the Wiesbaden Fitness Center. The event marked the official return of the storied unit, established during a World War I battle in France, to Hessen after having left Frankfurt in 1994 to join USAREUR Headquarters in Heidelberg.
Comparing V Corps to a “phoenix that is rising again,” Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, U.S. Army Europe commander, called the uncasing a “historic event. … the standing up again of V U.S. Corps.”
The USAREUR leader, who served in Wiesbaden while commanding 1st Armored Division, praised the close relationship and support by the host nation of Soldiers and Families.
“Lord Mayor Müller, the people of your city have always been great supporters to our units. … We also look forward to the continuance of our long tradition of friendship and partnership, not only during the standup of this corps, but what will happen in the near future as U.S. Army Europe comes from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden.”
Referring to his love of sports movie heroes, Hertling compared V Corps’ long history to that of the “Rocky” character " “a tough kid from humble beginnings … a fighter who flat out trained hard … a guy who had a lot heart … a guy who every time you counted him out, thought he was through, thought he wouldn’t come back, knew he couldn’t overcome the tough odds " always came back to achieve victory.
“V Corps reminds me of Rocky,” he said, citing the many operations, support missions and battles in which V Corps participated since returning to Europe in 1951 from efforts during the Cold War defending the Fulda Gap to their most recent one year deployment in Afghanistan.
“This small group of Victory Soldiers … and their Families are going to provide the baseline for something that going to go down in history once again " a corps risen from an order to inactivate, to a corps that will finish a tough and a long fight with victory,” Hertling said.
Acting V Corps commander, Brig. Gen. Ricky D. Gibbs, echoed USAREUR’s senior leader in thanking host nation members in the audience for their “unwavering support and heartwarming friendship. … We want you to know how much we appreciate today’s welcome and everything you have done for us to make us feel welcome in this beautiful city.”
Gibbs, who began his military career in Wiesbaden as a young lieutenant with 3rd Battalion, 28th Infantry, and before that lived in Frankfurt and Stuttgart as a child accompanying his military father, said, “never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would return to Wiesbaden almost three decades later.”
The V Corps leader reminded listeners of the enduring ties between the United States and Europe. “During the four decades of the Cold War, the sons and daughters of America stood side-by-side with the Bundeswehr and other members of the NATO alliance. … They won this extraordinary victory, which changed the course of the world, without a shot being fired. …
“The importance of maintaining strong relations between us is even more critical than ever in these challenging times,” Gibbs said. “I can assure you that I, and all members of V Corps, will continue to foster the special ties that bind us together as close friends and allies.”
The ceremony also served as an official welcome home for the close to 150 Soldiers who served in Afghanistan as part of V Corps’ IJC Command Post 2. “We are honored to be here with all of you as we celebrate your return and want to extend a personal thank you after a demanding deployment to Afghanistan,” Gibbs said. … “Your performance throughout this challenging mission was superb and we are proud of you for your excellent accomplishments and professionalism.”