TOMPKINS BARRACKS, Schwetzingen, Germany — Many Soldiers say the Army is a lot like a family. Similar to some families, the Army also has a tradition of holding reunions for unit members and their families to remember and reminisce about their shared experiences and significant life events.
Under towering pines in their former headquarters building, the former 7th U.S. Army Reserve Command continued this tradition by holding their inaugural 7th ARCOM alumni reunion on Aug. 11.
“There have been a couple of occasions where we met, retired Army Col. Phil Lopez, 64, former chief of staff, 7th ARCOM, who immigrated from Cuba at 16, to Warsaw, Ind., said. “[But] this is a means of getting everybody together.”
The day kicked off with a photo in front of the American flag and “old” flag pole on the parade field; a tour of the old headquarters building and then a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the 7th ARCOM and its transformation into the current 7th Civil Support Command.
7th ARCOM was activated Jan. 15, 1986 to provide command and control for USAR units assigned to U. S. Army Europe according to retired Army Col. Albert J. Gardner, 58, a St. Louis, Mo., native, a former 7th ARCOM member and current 7th CSC command executive officer, said.
“I came because the 7th ARCOM was my first reserve unit after my active duty tour,” retired Army Lt. Col. Carol Fontanese, 51, who is from Pittsburgh, Pa., a former member of the 7th ARCOM, said. “For me, this is like my family. Today is bittersweet. I see people I haven’t seen for a very long time.”
A few of the 7th ARCOM’s significant achievements included the deployment of USAR units to Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm and the activation of the USAREUR Mobilization Support Center, which mobilized over 3,000 reservists; also all of 7th ARCOM’s 23 subordinate units were mobilized during Operation Joint Endeavour & Operation Joint Guardian, some twice.
“The significance is to pay tribute to the camaraderie and esprit de corps developed and experience of individuals assigned to the 7th both past and present, Gardner said.
In 2006, 7th ARCOM began its transformation planning; USAREUR directed the command to focus their theater support on consequence management and civil affairs.
The 7th ARCOM headquarters element moved to Kaiserslautern permanently in the summer of 2008 and was reflagged as the 7th CSC.
“It was great, it’s outstanding,” New York City, N.Y. native, Army Staff Sgt. Julio Rivera, 56, a former member of the 7th ARCOM and current noncommissioned officer in charge for the 7th CSC supply room, said. “It brought me in contact with people I lost touch with and I hope we do it again.” According to Lopez, who was the lead organizer of the event, the 7th ARCOM plans to hold another reunion in the future based on positive feedback from the participants.
“It’s important, it’s part of our family tradition,” retired Army Staff Sgt. Joel Trammell, 52, a Chicago, Ill. native, who worked for the secretary general staff at 7th ARCOM and has deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, said. “We were a family at 7th ARCOM. It’s a great idea and I hope they keep doing it.”
After the briefing at Tompkins Barracks, the group of more than 50 alumni and family members gathered for lunch at a restaurant in downtown Schwetzingen and then drove to Heidelberg to enjoy a boat cruise on the Neckar River with a final dinner in the city to end the day.
“The handshakes, the hugs, this is what it’s all about,” Lopez said.