Cruisin’ for some R & R

Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

“Is that a straight-6 under the hood?” asked a man at the recent car show staged for wounded servicemembers outside Landstuhl Army Post.

“Nope, it’s a 302,” was the reply from one of scattered car club members who banded together to provide some rest and relaxation for some of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s outpatient men and women billeted at Kleber Kaserne.

***image1***The event allowed about 20 recovering servicemembers to ride in the show cars from their Kleber barracks to the grounds of the Charlie Co. 1 / 214 Aviation Regiment outside Landstuhl Post.

A medevac helicopter was also on display, with battalion members explaining the ins and outs of their group’s daily mission.

“These people have had a lot on the minds and done a lot for other people so it’s no problem doing something small for them in return,” said Sgt. Jim Beebe of the 1 / 214 Aviation Regiment. “The car clubs were happy to be involved, too. We owe these guys a lot.”

F-Body Europe and Mighty Mustangs were the two primary clubs who parked cars in a row on the heliport tarmac. Club members are active duty, civilians and contractors – many of whom also served on the front lines during prior U.S. military engagements.

“Getting them out of Kleber and letting them ride in some cool cars was the main focus,” said Jerry Montgomery, a club member employed with U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters at Ramstein. “We’ve been active with things like this before. They all like the cars, I think.

“It makes you feel good to spend time with these servicemembers. They need to relax and recover.”

The day began when the car clubs sent drivers to pick up the wounded warriors. After driving to the heliport, an exhibition was staged to explain the various performance aspects of the cars and the UH-60A Blackhawk helicopter.

Warrant Officer 1 Jeff York and two co-workers explained the inner workings of the Blackhawk to the group and the daily duties carried out by the 1 / 214, including missions around Grafenwohr and Hohenfels along with medevac coverage throughout Kaiserslautern.

“It was a pretty good learning process with the helicopter and I don’t know a lot about cars,” Spc. Lance Tafa of Charlie Co. 520 said. “I was just going to be sitting in the barracks over the weekend and the opportunity to do this came up.”

Specialist Tafa was injured while serving in Iraq and another soldier at the event, Spc. Kevin Alderson of 122 ASB, was also an outpatient at LRMC after service in Afghanistan.

“I work on Apache helicopters with my job so I am familiar with some of this stuff,” Specialist Alderson said.

The day ended with a barbecue cookout back at Kleber, sponsored in part by the Wounded Warrior Ministry Fund and chaplains at LRMC and surrounding military installations. The German Contact Club, based in Geissen, was also involved.

“There was beautiful weather for a change,” Sergeant Beebe said. “We took the cars out to Ramstein recently and it rained on us all day. The helicopter display was good, too, because it shows them how medevac missions work.

“As military guys, at one point or another we’re all going to have to be deployed. This shows them the process of caring and transporting the injured.”