They talk about how weird it is to ride on the bus from Ramstein to the hospital on a public highway with non-Military vehicles all around them. One says, “I’m like, those vehicles are so close to us! Where the %$&§ is the gunner - why isn’t he firing warning shots at them?!?” He’s been here for two days now, so it’s funny.
I look over at a guy with a cast on his arm who’s really quiet and ask, “When’d you get here?” “A couple of hours ago”, he answers. I hand him a beer and welcome him ‘home’.
As always, they can’t quite figure out what we’re doing there. “You guys aren’t Military, are you?” “No.” “Is your husband down range?” “No.” “Are you a Military Mom?” “No.”
“Then why are you here?”, they ask. “Well, we’re Soldiers’ Angels and we’re here because we love and support you.”
A chorus of, “Wow, that’s really nice”, “Cool!”, “We get so much stuff from ya’ll down range”, “Damn… ”
Willie, Rudi, Natalie and I arrive at 10am because we know the staff are busy with new arrivals in the afternoons. We have snacks like brownies and chips in baskets decorated with red, white and blue ribbons, 5 more pictures for the Wall of Thanks, and 10 more Transitional backpacks for the hospital.
Rudi and Natalie unpacking in the barracks library.
That’s Natalie on the left and me flanked by Air Force and Army. Rudi’s in the background.
Rudi’s probably thinking that if I have one more comment about how he’s hanging the pictures then I should do it myself…
The pictures are part of the ongoing Wall of Thanks project. Our goal is to fill the hallways of the barracks with pictures from people back home as a personal expression of thanks and support.
New Orleans Saints support the troops!
Childrens’ greetings – the one on the lower left says, “we appreciate you so much”. er we’re done we go out to the picnic table outside the barracks. A group of younger troops who feel well enough and have passes are gathering to go into town for a local street festival. They are apparently waiting on a straggler, a female Soldier. Her roommate yells out regular reports through the window of their room in the barracks, “She’s in the shower!”, “She’s getting dressed!” Catcalls and groans from the group. It takes about an hour, but they finally head out.
Then we occupy the picnic table. Willie and Rudi have brought soft drinks, beer, and picnic baskets full of food, plates, silverware – even a tablecloth. We know there are lots of guys who don’t feel up to leaving the barracks and don’t have much to look forward to this 4th of July.
As guys come out for some sun or to smoke, we round them up. Here we are with one Soldier (in the red T-Shirt) and trying to convince another (in the background) to join us. Despite my threatening gesture with a fork Willie is able to persuade him to come over.
The group gets bigger…
…. and bigger.
And then it’s standing room only. It’s like a big backyard picnic with a bunch of strangers who come and go, but everybody has fun and is able to forget about other stuff for a little while.
Natalie has a Nissan which needs some work right now and coincidentally this Soldier is an engineer at Nissan. They ended up hunkered over his laptop PC talking about spare parts or something. Wouldn’t be surprised if her car was the road again very soon…
It’s after 9pm and time to go. Rudi says a last goodbye and Willie gathers up all the picnic stuff. Turns out Willie and that Soldier seated at the table have a common friend, but I’ll leave that story to her....
Thank you Angels & Friends for your support!
Everything you do - your cards, letters, pictures, Blankets of Hope, items for the Transitional Backpacks, microwave meals, donations for phone cards, etc. - all makes a difference!
If you would like to help support our projects in Germany please contact:
Willie or MaryAnn
Or visit Soldiers Angels
Transitional medical facilities in Germany
Ramstein AFB in Germany is a 5-hour medevac flight from Iraq. From here, troops are brought to either the nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center or to the Kleber Barracks.
The Landstuhl hospital is for troops with serious injuries or illness requiring surgery and hospitalization. About 50 soldiers are hospitalized at any given time and the average stay is under a week before being stabilized and sent on to a military hospital in the US or transitioned to the outpatient barracks at Kleber.
The Kleber barracks are for outpatients with less serious injuries or illnesses, or for those transitioned out of the hospital. There are typically 150 outpatients whose average stay is 7-10 days before being flown home to the US or back to Iraq or Afghanistan.
I can personally speak to how wonderful Willie, Maryann, and all the Angels in Germany are - with one email to see if anyone could see my adoptee while he was there, he got not one, but two visitors, and a trip out for a day that he was very excited about.
Maryann, you guys are awesome. Thank you for all you do over there to support our wounded heroes!