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The Army in Germany -Then and Now

GERMANY | Saturday, 10 September 2011 | Views [1503]

Ashleigh, Brett, Connie at Regensberg

Ashleigh, Brett, Connie at Regensberg

We took the train from Geneva across Switzerland to Stuttgart, mostly to visit my brother’s son, Brett, and his wife, Ashleigh, in Vilseck, Germany.  Brett is an army captain who just returned from a combat tour in Afghanistan, and they are looking forward to the next three years in Germany. 

But first I wanted to visit the place where I was stationed after my combat tour in Vietnam 41 years ago.  The barracks at Gelnhausen are still standing, though they haven’t been used by the military for ages.  And I think I found the old house I lived in, now buried in a run-down industrial park.  The biggest changes were in the town itself.  Gelnhausen celebrated its 800th anniversary when I was stationed there and it has been transformed into a quaint tourist town.  At least I don’t remember it as being so charming – maybe because I have matured and my historical perspective has changed.

Brett and Ashleigh live 30 km from the base in Auerbach in government-supplied housing and gave us the guest bedroom.  It felt funny going onto the base, like a mini-return to America.  People speak “American,” they use dollars, eat at Subway and Burger “Koenig,” and buy food at the commissary.  We were interested in unraveling the process to receive healthcare on base and wanted to pick up a few things at the commissary.  It took a while but we were able to refill some prescriptions.  Now we think we know what to expect in the future.

Brett and Ashleigh are travelers, too, or as much as two young people with job responsibilities can.  Including Afghanistan and Iraq, Brett has been to 29 countries already and Ashleigh took advantage of travel opportunities while he was deployed.  We went with them to Regensburg, a medieval town on the Danube, where our interests and ages really showed but we all enjoyed the food and drinks.



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