DVIDS – News – “Operation Good Cheer” revived, brings joy to American Soldiers in Germany for Christmas
Story by Bernd Mai
BAUMHOLDER, Germany – In a heartwarming revival, the “Operation Good Cheer” program of 2023 marks a successful reactivation after a hiatus since 2019, bringing together single American Soldiers with German host families for Christmas festivities.
Organizer Bernd Mai, overseeing the program since 1983, highlighted the historical significance, tracing its roots back to the 1970s, with approximately 1,100 Soldiers placed with families over the years.
Some families have accommodated multiple Soldiers, exemplified by Klaus and Angelika Hettrich from Sensweiler, participating continuously since 1993, except during pauses due to service member deployments or the Covid-19 pandemic.
Expressing gratitude, Baumholder Military Community Deputy Garrison Manager Jae Kim honored the Hettriches with a book and a Baumholder pin as a token of appreciation, commending the program. Kim praised the thriving U.S. community in Baumholder, emphasizing the significance of reactivating this Christmas tradition.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Keenan, commander of the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, encouraged young Soldiers during the inaugural gathering with host families to share their experiences and urged them to explore Germany, fostering friendships and cultural exchanges. He emphasized the uniqueness of Baumholder compared to his previous station in Kaiserslautern, underscoring the integration of Germans and Americans in Baumholder.
Baumholder District Mayor Bernd Alsfasser echoed Keenan’s sentiments, attending the meeting to express gratitude to the families for their involvement, affirming the deep-rooted German-American friendship within Baumholder. Each family received a Baumholder pin as a token of appreciation.
At the initial meeting between the Germans and Americans, conversations flowed freely as they discussed Christmas plans.
Some Soldiers received invitations for Christmas Eve, while others were invited for Christmas Day or Boxing Day, showcasing the flexibility of the program to accommodate individual preferences.
Mai stressed the importance of Soldiers experiencing a typical German Christmas, emphasizing that no special arrangements were required for the Americans. The focus remained on fostering cultural exchange and understanding.
With optimism for the future, Kim anticipated the program’s growth in 2024, urging participants to share their positive experiences with their colleagues.
As Soldiers prepare to celebrate the holidays with their newfound German families, “Operation Good Cheer” continues to signify the enduring bond between nations during the festive season.
U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz serves, supports, and secures the total force community enabling power projection for the European Theater.
|BAUMHOLDER, RP, DE
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