By John Reese
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
The past year was busier than the year before, a trend that will continue in an age of less resources and an equal-to-or-greater-than ratio of work. The garrison’s Public Affairs Office covered much of what happened in the local military community through the newsstand and online editions of The Stuttgart Citizen, and on popular social media platforms, like Facebook.
The year began by observing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 11, hosted by U.S. Africa Command. The guest speaker was Juandalynn R. Abernathy, daughter of Rev. Dr. Ralph D. Abernathy, who succeeded King after his assassination.
Physics students from Stuttgart High School visited the CERN Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, one of the world’s most important scientific experiments.
The 554th Military Police Company, the garrison’s police force, practiced responding to an active shooter during a training exercise at Stuttgart High School, Jan. 27. The MPs were supported by the school’s administrative staff and 18 drama students who added realism.
SHS hosted and won a four-team wrestling tournament, grappling with students from Hohenfels, Munich and Vilseck.
Sir Waldo Weathers, saxophonist extraordinaire for James Brown, performed live at the garrison’s African-American History Month observance at the Panzer Exchange. Weathers dazzled the crowd with his musical talents.
German and American football fans stayed up late to watch the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI at the Galaxy Bowling & Entertainment Center on Panzer Kaserne.
The garrison’s Best Warrior Competition was held under chilly gray skies, Feb. 13-15, naming Pvt. Joshua Young and Staff Sgt. Jay Cortner Soldier and NCO of the Year, respectively.
The Stuttgart Theatre Center opened its season with an impressive performance of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Feb. 17. The top-notch caliber of the play made it worthy of a Topper Award (the military’s version of the Tony) nomination.
Two decades of air defense over Stuttgart was marked by the Joint Tactical Ground Station on Kelley Barracks, Feb. 19. The mobile system can be deployed by air and be operational within two hours of landing.
A sponsorship rodeo, an event to bring together key personnel to develop knowledgeable sponsors for incoming personnel, filled the entrance of the Panzer Exchange, Feb. 22.
The Stuttgart Piranhas Swim team wrapped up February with 37 gold, 37 silver and 22 bronze medals at the European Forces Swim League, Feb. 25-26.
The Spring Bazaar was bigger and better, March 17, in the Patch Fitness Center, with more vendors offering a wider variety of products.
March saw the first visit the National Football League teams. Players from the Carolina Panthers lunched at the 10th Special Forces Group dining facility, March 10, signing autographs and greeting fans.
Although it’s a “purple” joint-service community, this garrison was declared the Army’s best worldwide, receiving the Army Communities of Excellence gold medal in March. The garrison’s Army Community Service was also recognized, receiving “Public Sector Innovation Award for the 21st Century” first place.
In April, the 100th Military Police Detachment’s working dogs were featured in a controlled aggression demonstration video.
April marked the first time in more than a decade without a biweekly newsstand edition of The Stuttgart Citizen. A special PCS-out issue was printed to inform leaving the community on what to do. Production resumed in August as a monthly newspaper.
Asian American, Pacific Islander Heritage Month was celebrated with dancing, singing and food sampling at the Panzer Exchange.
The second of two special PCS issues hit the stands, this one welcoming newcomers to the Stuttgart military community. Copies of this issue are placed in rooms at the Kelley and Panzer hotels, and are available at in-processing and PAO.
Dr. Michelle Sanders, a physician serving at the Kelly and Patch health clinics, swam the English Channel as part of a relay team, crossing it of in recognition of the 100th anniversary of U.S. forces in Europe.
Independence Day was the biggest event in July, with thousands of community members enjoying American traditions like barbecued foods, bands, games and a huge fireworks display.
The garrison welcomed a new commander, July 12, when Col. Neal Corson accepted the reins from Col. Glenn Dickenson,.
Fallen military personnel were honored by the 10th Run to Remember, July 29. The 5k and half-marathon runs were organized to recognize Gold Star spouses, and the 2017 run was started by Gold Star spouse Michelle Martell.
The annual Communities Activities, Registration and Education Fair brought together representatives from almost every garrison agency, government or not, in the Patch Fitness Center, Aug. 26. Simultaneously, the USO held a “Fun in the Sun” day across the street on Husky Field, while a flea market filled the gym’s parking lot. It was a beautiful day with almost as many participating community members as the 4th of July.
August’s next big event came late in the month: the first day of school, Aug. 28. Students at Robinson Barracks Elementary School, Patch Barracks Middle School, and the three schools on Panzer Kaserne (the temporarily relocated Patch Elementary, and Stuttgart Elementary and Stuttgart High) resumed classes and the day went smoothly, despite detours due to construction and heavier traffic from parents and buses.
The month saw two major events: Soldierfest and Stallion Shake 2017.
Soldierfest, a thank you tribute to the troops, took place on the first Monday of the Cannstatter Volksfest, bringing together hundreds of warriors primarily from Germany, the U.S., Austria, France and Switzerland, plus a few small bands representing other countries. The garrison commander and senior enlisted adviser helped tap ceremonial kegs and addressed the festive crowd.
Stallion Shake 2017 was the garrison’s biggest force protection exercise of the year, involving or impacting most garrison assets, plus engaging hundreds of host nation emergency responders. The exercise took place mainly on Patch Barracks, with two primary scenarios – a terrorist bombing at the main gate and an active shooter in the (closed) Patch Elementary School. It was an excellent training event demonstrating German-American cooperation.
In October, SHS saw a huge turnout for the Hybrid College Fair, Oct. 11, with college-bound students linking up with dozens of universities.
Retiree Appreciation Day, Oct. 19th, showed the garrison’s concern for the purple community of retirees.
Olympian swimmers visited to train the already voracious Piranhas swim team, and astronaut Bob Cabana visited the garrison schools to inspire kids about science, math and exploration.
Service members were immunized for the flu in a three-day exercise simulating a response to a pandemic, and the community bank on Panzer Kaserne cut the ribbon on a much-anticipated coin counting machine.
October wouldn’t be October without FMWR’s Great Pumpkin 5k and Harvest Fest, Oct. 28, and trick or treating in the community housing areas.
Nov. 4 saw the Red Cross’ Baby Expo at the Patch Community Club, a very active flea market at Patch’s Swabian Special Events Center and a good turnout for Dungeons and Dragons in the Patch Library. That evening, the SHS Panthers football team finished an undefeated season to take the DoDEA-Europe Division I Championship.
FMWR’s new tour office held an open house, Nov. 6, and the Robinson Barracks Zentrum opened Nov. 13, operated by volunteers. A blood drive on Patch and Panzer, Nov. 14-15, brought in a week’s worth of collections in just two days.
Also on Nov. 15, six Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders signed autographs, met service members and performed a dance routine on Panzer Kaserne.
An unexploded, 500 lbs. aerial bomb dropped next to Panzer Kaserne during World War II was defused by German EOD experts in a daylong operation that closed the main road past post and even affected air traffic from Stuttgart International, Nov. 19.
Veterans Day, lantern walks, tree lightings, three community Thanksgiving dinners and the Combined Federal Campaign rounded out a busy November.
The final month of 2017 was filled with Christmas markets and holiday gatherings. Many took leave. The USO served special meals for single and unaccompanied warriors, plus a takeaway meal for Christmas day.