Stuttgart community honors fallen warriors

Memorial Day 2017

Stuttgart High School JROTC Color Guard posted colors at the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Memorial Day Ceremony May 29 at Washington Square on Patch Barracks.

Story and photos by Kevin S. Abel

During a Memorial Day ceremony at Washington Square on Patch Barracks May 29, the Stuttgart Military Community paid respect and honor to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The presence of the uniformed members of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 10810, American Legion Post 6 and the Stuttgart High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) helped show the diversity of this unified community and the level of respect it has for its fallen warriors.

“We commemorate Memorial Day to honor those service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Sgt. Tyler J. Johnson, AFRICOM and American Legion Post 6 commander, who served as master of ceremonies.

“It is an honor to join you today as we remember those Americans from every generation who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said guest speaker Rear Adm. Frank D. Whitworth, AFRICOM Director of Intelligence. “Today we also honor the sacrifices made by our partners and allies who fought across the European theater and continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with us.”

“We’re thankful for the service and sacrifice of our family members who have made it, or make it possible for their loved ones in uniform to serve,” Whitworth said.

“Memorial Day is an occasion when we respectfully remember those who fought and died, whose lives were painfully cut short. Memorial Day, also an occasion we celebrate the security and freedom we enjoy,” Whitworth said.  “We remember just how fortunate we are as Americans because of those who have gone before us and the men and women who step forward and serve now.”

Whitworth added that there are so many profiles of courage that could be discussed and episodes in history that steal the soul and bring pride and motivation. He reflected on the sacrifice by Chief Warrant Officer Douglas Vose III, who died from wounds received while conducting combat operations in the Kabul Province of Afghanistan on July 29, 2009 while serving as the Assistant Detachment Commander of Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 0114, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Memorial Day 2017

Rear Adm. Frank D. Whitworth, U.S. Africa Command Director of Intelligence (J2), was the guest speaker at the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany – USAG Stuttgart Memorial Day Ceremony.

“While this may be my last Memorial Day ceremony in Stuttgart, what we have done as a community will continue to lead on,” said Col. Glenn K. Dickenson, Stuttgart Garrison Commander.  “As a community we will continue to honor the fallen, and the great sacrifice they gave for us to live in a free nation.”For some, this will be one of many Memorial Day ceremonies they will participate in during their time in the community, but for one it was his last.

The day originally known as “Decoration Day” gradually changed to “Memorial Day,” which was first used in 1882 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. After World War I it was known as a day of remembrance for all Americans who died fighting in any war.

Memorial Day did not become the more common name until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. In 1971 Congress declared the last Monday in May as the federal Memorial Day holiday.

To honor the fallen, wreaths were presented by representatives of AFRICOM, American Legion Post 6, VFW Post 10801, Association of the U.S. Army and Stuttgart Clan of Motorcycle Enthusiasts.

After the bugler played Taps, the benediction presented by Chaplain (Maj.) Lucilio Mizerani, and the SHS JROTC retired the colors, Johnson closed the ceremony with a sobering thought about the day’s true meaning.

Today is not a holiday, it’s a day of remembrance. If you want to know the true meaning of Memorial Day, visit Arlington Cemetery.


Feature Military

Pet ownership comes with responsibilities

Story by Kevin S. Abel

If you are considering taking a dog, cat or any other pet into your life, think seriously about the responsibility and commitment that owning a pet entails, it’s not just a privilege to be enjoyed for a short period of time.

Recognize and be prepared to commit to a lifelong relationship with your pet. “Choose a pet that fits your life style appropriately,” said Jessie Bryant, veterinarian, Stuttgart Veterinary Treatment Facility. “Think about your future, they could be with you after your kids leave for college.”

Bringing pets to Germany and the installation requires pets be current on their vaccinations, and be microchipped with a German ISO compatible 15-digit chip. Upon arrival you are required to get your pets registered at the Stuttgart Veterinary Treatment Facility.

The microchip allows your pet to be identified if it becomes lost. This chip can also be registered though a website called Tasso. Tasso is a central registration hub for all pets in Germany and is completely free to register your pet. The Tasso foundation is run by donations so be kind when it comes to donating, because they will help find your lost pet. Their website to sign up in English is

Owners have the responsibility for their pet’s health. Bryant recommends that you have a checkup once a year to maintain your animal’s health and provide the necessary preventative care including vaccinations, parasite control and dental care. Some vaccinations needed are given annually, while some are given every three years.

Restrictions and responsibilities

In addition to the vaccination and microchip requirements, residents on the installations may own no more than two dogs or cats, in any combination, per household.

Other domestic pets, including birds, goldfish, and hamsters, may be kept in family housing, however exotic pets, like snakes, are prohibited. Breeds that are not allowed to be imported into Germany may not be kept in Army Family Housing (AFH).

Building Coordinators may designate pet walk areas that building residents who are pet owners will be responsible for maintaining. Dogs and cats must not be allowed to relieve themselves on balconies, playgrounds, or within 50 feet of family housing buildings. Pet owners are required to immediately clean up excrement from their pets and dispose of it properly.

Repeat offenders may face harsh disciplinary action that could include loss of pet privileges, removal from Army Family Housing at the occupants expense or UCMJ action(s) deemed appropriate by the Garrison Commander.

A health and welfare inspection may be conducted on any AFH unit alleged by complaint to be substandard in cleanliness, smell, or where a pet has apparently been abandoned.

Pets must not be left unattended in quarters for more than 12 hours. During these times arrangements must be made for the care of pets to ensure they have adequate food, water and walks so it can relieve itself.

At no time are pets allowed to be on balconies unattended, housed or locked in basements or storerooms, kept in fenced playgrounds, or tied to stair railings, radiators, pipes, shrubbery, or trees. Breeding pets and the construction and maintenance of kennel type operations are prohibited in Government controlled housing.

Pet owners residing in AFH are subject to host nation (HN) laws governing the treatment of pets. HN law and Army in Europe policy prohibit inhumane and abusive treatment of animals. Inhumane and abusive treatment is defined as any act or omission whereby an animal’s physical or psychological wellbeing is compromised unnecessarily.

Sponsors and their spouses are responsible to ensure that pets are controlled so they do not become a public nuisance or menace.

“Pets must be kept under control at all times and kept on a leash when outside,” said Ricky Hernandez, USAG Stuttgart Military Housing. “They are not permitted in playgrounds or sports fields at anytime.” Hernandez said that these regulations were put in place to protect both animals and residents on the installation.


If a pet bites, scratches or becomes aggressive to a human, it should be reported to the military police. Complaints of improper control of pets and incidents where pets bite, scratch or become aggressive will be investigated and when appropriate, reported to the garrison commander for action.

The offending animal is subject to a physical examination, quarantine and possible removal from AFH, regardless of the absence of prior incidents.

Owners who abandon their pets are subject to action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or HN law and are responsible for all costs incurred by the Government on the transfer, care, custody, and final disposition of the animal.

Pet ownership is not something to be entered into lightly. Owning a pet is a long-term emotional, financial and time commitment. Decide if it is right for you by making an honest assessment as to whether your home and family are ready.


Feature Military

Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday: A Day on, Not a Day Off!

Story and infographic by Kevin S. Abel

On January 16, Americans will honor and celebrate the life of one of our most respected mlk-life-ofleaders and vital figures of the modern era civil rights movements, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During this day of celebration, we should be honoring the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to our Nation and honor the values he exemplified in his life.

We must not forget his teachings of courage, truth, respect, integrity, humility, and service. These same values are what make the United States Military and our country strong.

The Martin Luther King – Day of Service is part of President Barack Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

A key focus has been to connect the holiday observance to long term efforts having a lasting impact on six critical national issues: education; veterans and military families; environmental stewardship; disaster preparedness; economic opportunity and healthy futures.

King is best known for his central role in the American Civil Rights Movement as the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism. He devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice and opportunity for all Americans.

While serving as a Pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, King was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks.

In 1959 King resigned from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church where he had gotten his start in ministry.

King was arrested 30 times for his participation in civil rights activities.

King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968. He had gone to Memphis to help lead sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions.

After King’s death, Senator Edward Brooke and RepresentativeJohn Conyers introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday.

The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. Public pressure for the holiday mounted during the 1982 and 1983 civil rights marches in Washington but a er a long struggle, legislation was signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.

In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service — a “day on, not a day off.”

His lectures and speeches stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. His charismatic style of leadership inspired people, young and old, not just in the United States but around the world.

In his iconic speech delivered August, 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. for Jobs and Freedom, King urged America to “make real the promises of democracy” and the necessity for change and potential for hope in American society.

Listen to his speech at Audio-MLK-Dream.

Each year, Americans answer one of King’s famous questions: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?,” by coming together to serve their neighbors and communities.

The observance of MLK Day provides the Stuttgart Community with not only an opportunity to celebrate King’s contributions to our country, but to reflect on the strength in our commitment to service and each other.

People of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can get involved with local volunteer opportunities in the community or plan your own project.

CZ_Jan_12_2017_Page_07.jpgPublished in the Stuttgart Citizen Jan. 12, 2017
Feature Infographic

Esslingen turns back time 600 years, awakens in Middle Ages

Esslinger Medieval, Christmas Markets come alive for holidays


Story and photos by Kevin S. Abel

As the Holiday season is upon us, across Europe the Christmas markets open their stalls and attract millions of visitors with decorated and lighted stands and the smells of the holiday.

If you consider yourself a Weihnachtsmarkt professional, the Esslinger Christmas market is a must.

As if the city had been enchanted overnight, Mittelalter and Weihnachtsmarkt goers will be turned 600 years back; as Esslingen awakens in the Middle Ages.

Fire-breathing dragons, jugglers, story tellers and musicians entertain, while candle makers, blacksmiths, basket weavers and glassblowers celebrate old world craftsmanship from days of the past.

Above all lies the smell of charcoal fire, exotic spices, Glühwein (German mulled wine) and toasted almonds in the air between the magnificent half-timbered houses in the city center will draw you into the Medieval age.

Starting the Tuesday before the first advent Esslingen transforms and reinvents itself. The mediaeval market takes over the Marktplatz, (market square), the old town hall to Hafenmarkt for four weeks before Christmas.

The market aims to be authentic for visitors to truly experience the Middle Ages, which is why artisans, craftsmen and vendors wear medieval garments, and speak using the language of medieval times.

If Black Friday shopping didn’t fulfill all your gift needs there are lots of potential Christmas gifts for the loved ones from candles, spirits, to regional Christmas decorations along with crafts of the times.

If shopping isn’t your thing, you can step back in time with a few friends and bath in the public Zuber (wooden bath), learn medieval dances, sing traditional Christmas songs or take the children for the human powered carnival styled rides.

Whatever your passion is traditional Weihnachtsmarkt shopping, live entertainment, great food or immersing yourself into the festivities of the season, Mittelalter and Weihnachtsmarkt in Esslingen has a lot to explore.

Esslinger Mittelalter and Weihnachtsmarkt is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. until Dec. 22. Except on the last market day, which is exactly a month after its opening day the market closes for this year at 6 p.m.

To get to Esslingen take the A8 to L1202 in Neuhausen auf den Fildern. exit 54-Esslingen. Continue on L1202. to L1192 and Ulmer Strasse to Rathausplatz in Esslingen am Neckar.

The address is Rathausplatz, 73728 Esslingen am Neckar.

By public transportation take the S1 toward Kirchheim getting o at Esslingen, you will then need to walk about 750 meters to the Mittelalter and Weihnachtsmarkts.

esslingenmarket12-1-2016PUBLISHED IN THE STUTTGART CITIZEN DEC. 1, 2016
Feature Travel

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month

Disability.jpgBy Kevin S. Abel

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month; the purpose of this designation is to raise awareness and educate everyone about disability employment issues and celebrate the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

This effort to educate the public about the issues related to disability and employment began in 1945, when Congress enacted Public Law 176, declaring the first week of October each year as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.

Some 25 years later, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The American Disability Act defines an individual with a disability as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a person who has a history or record of such impairment; or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” People with disabilities are a diverse group, crossing lines of age, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart supports the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs run by federal agencies; programs that receive federal financial assistance; in federal employment; and in the employment practices of federal contractors and requires federal employers to provide reasonable accommodations.

When faced with recruitment/ selection employment actions, managers and supervisors are to hire the best-qualified candidate based on their knowledge, skills and abilities and not based on whether they have a disability or not.

There are a large number of resources out there if a new employee has a disability or a current employee becomes disabled that can help. Two of these resources are; Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and Computer/ Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP)

JAN is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. It represents the most comprehensive job accommodation resource available and helps people with disabilities enhance their employability and educates employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.

CAP is the centrally funded reasonable accommodations program for employees with disabilities in the DoD. Congress granted it the authority to provide assistive technology, devices, and support services free of charge to Federal agencies that have a partnership agreement with them. These technologies, which can be used to maintain, increase, or improve an individual’s job performance, are available to accommodate people with apparent or hidden disabilities such as Blind/low vision, cognitive, communication, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, or dexterity.

To learn more about reasonable accommodations, contact the your Disability Program Manager or the USAG Stuttgart Equal Employment Opportunity Office at 314-430-5256.


Festive event brings cattle home

Tradition starts Viehscheid/Almabtrieb in Allgäu region


Story and photos by Kevin S. Abel

What better way to celebrate the end of summer of wondering and foraging
in the Allgäu Region of Southern Germany than with festivals including 30,000 of your fellow mountain travelers.

Having spent summer in the mountains grazing in the Alpine meadows, cattle are brought back down into the valleys in September before winter sets in, this is known as the Viehscheid or Almabtrieb.

Bells sounds can be heard throughout the valleys to the delight of all locals and guests as herders and cattle make their way down.

During the Viehscheid around 30,000 head of cattle leave the lush mountain pastures of the Allgäu Region and are herded into the valley to the Scheidplatz and sorted before being returned to their owners.

It all starts in the spring when herders promise owners of cattle herds they will return all of their animals to them in good health in the fall.

These herders take on a great amount of responsibility and drive the cattle up into the mountains shortly after the snowmelt to fatten them up throughout the 100 days of summer.

The time spent up in the mountains is not always easy for the herders. They often live in very simple conditions and lead extremely lonely lives.

29065138194_6ba388869e_kIf all has gone well, the leading cow is elaborately decorated. While all of the cattle are decorated with an elaborate bells and collars, only the  leading cow, or ‘Kranz’, or ‘Kranzkuh’ in Bavaria, is decorated with a wreath.

The wreath is fashioned from pine boughs, alpine flowers, bearing a cross and a mirror. All the other cows wear huge bells to ward off any evil demons the cattle might encounter on their way back down into the valley.

It’s the traditional way of giving thanks for good grazing season without losses. The Allgäu is a region in Swabia in southern Germany. It covers the south of Bavarian Swabia, southeastern Baden-Württemberg and parts of Austria.

The region stretches from the pre-alpine lands up to the Alps.

In recent years, the Viehscheid hasbecome increasingly popular and vary in the number of cattle and tourists.cattle-flickr

The average size of the gather is approximately 100-300 head of cattle per

It’s advisable to get to the Viehscheid early to get a good view. However, depending on the weather, it may also be delayed.

Published in the Stuttgart Citizen Sept. 22, 2016

360 VR Images produced for this story

Cattle graze in the high meadows of the Allgäu region before the start of the Viehscheid.

Cattle are herded in the valley at the Scheidplatz and sorted before being returned to their owners during the Viehscheid.


360 VR Photographs Feature Travel

Country music singer Ayla Brown marks her fourth trip entertaining service members overseas in Stuttgart


Younger members of the Stuttgart Military Community dance in front of the stage as Country music singer Ayla Brown, American Idol season 5 contestant, performs her last song during the Armed Forces Entertainment concert.

Story and photos by Kevin S. Abel

Armed Forces Entertainment has joined forces with Country Music singer Ayla Brown and Hope for the Day motivational speakers Shayla Rivera and Jonny Boucher to raise awareness during National Suicide Prevention Month.

Hope For The Day’s vision is to bring communities together in order to shed light on the unfortunate topics of depression and suicide, while reducing suicide rates, inspiring and empowering those who need help, to get help.29369798216_8a4f0ab307_k

Their wish is to share the deeply personal connection creativity can have in fostering an environment of positive change to the suffering.

They view art and music as a highway to the heart; two things that have allowed humanity to express our emotions for millennia.

Ayla Brown is an American country music recording artist and a contestant on American Idol, season 5 in 2006 , she placed in the top 16. Shortly after the season’s conclusion, Brown attended Boston College on a full basketball scholarship, and graduated in 2010 with a communications degree.

She is the sixth leading scorer in Massachusetts basketball history, male or female, a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year, and was named the top female basketball player in Massachusetts.

Recognized as a pioneer and entrepreneur, Brown founded and owns her own record company, Ambient Entertainment.28780076234_3b8f3feae9_k

Having a keen eye for business and building mutually successful partnerships, Brown enjoys outstanding corporate relationships with the likes of Hilton Hotels, Texas Roadhouse and Concerned Veterans For America.

Brown has performed overseas three times, before her current tour that brought her to Stuttgart, to American troops in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

In November of 2012, Ayla released her second album Heroes & Hometowns and achieved a life-long dream of performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN.

Since the album’s release, Heroes & Hometowns has peaked at number one on Amazon MP3 and number 51 on iTunes. Every member of the Stuttgart Military Community that attended the concert was treated to this album autographed by Brown.


Published Sept. 8, 2016 in the Stuttgart Citizen

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