For the love of two countries

Compiled Story and photo Story and photos by Thomas Warner
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Public Affairs

***image1***Patriotism toward America and a love of his native Germany give Hartmut Hausser an interesting persona here in the KMC.

Mr. Hausser plays his bugle at patriotic ceremonies while also working as a security guard at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. He looks at his security job as providing peace of mind for others who are far away, deployed downrange.

He believes he’s the only member of the prestigious Bugles Across America who resides in Germany and one of just 22 Europeans in the contingent. That group, 5,000 strong worldwide, takes it upon themselves to make sure “Taps” is played at every military veteran’s funeral.

“I am indebted to the United States of America, for employing their military to try and make the world safer,” Mr. Hausser said recently. “When Soldiers are down in the (war zones) I want them to carry out their missions with no worries about how their families are doing back here.

“My work to make the post here safe is serious, because in many cases we are dealing with families who are split up due to deployments.”

With bugle in hand, he will participate in a ceremony and road march this weekend commemorating the epic “Battle of the Bulge” from World War II, when thousands of Allied and Axis deaths made it one of the most time-honored campaigns of that conflict.

Born a decade and a half after the end of that war, his family was among the first to host U.S. military personnel who were deployed to serve in post-war Germany. Mr. Hausser did service himself and is a former Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) with the German military. He’s made friends with countless Americans and others from different nations who have passed through as patients and staff at Landstuhl.

“When I see a C-130 passing overhead, I get that itch,” Mr. Hausser said, glancing at a ring he wears, emblazoned with the German paratroopers’ wings. “Paratroopers all belong to what’s known as the ‘Brotherhood of Silk’ and we share a lot of the same experiences. Parachutes used to all be made of silk, thus the name.”

A retired sergeant first class, Mr. Hausser has relatives who have also served with the German Bundeswehr and in various military roles. While the closest thing to a bugle corps in Germany would be what’s known as a Fanfarenzug, he’s been given the chance to play with American buglers at the ceremony in Belgium this weekend.
“I am proud of him, and many of his friends are, too,” said Tobias Weber, Landstuhl’s on-site director for Pond Security. “This is a man who has many friends and a person who has worked hard to create a means of communication between Germans, Americans and other people.

“Mr. Hausser is from a generation that came after the great war – a generation that held none of the animosity (seen previously) between Germans and Americans. He’s made the effort to reach out to people and share commonalities.”

German military ceremonies rarely feature bugles being played. Instances that are more common in American processions are usually reserved in Germany to simply honor the memory of a person, such as German Memorial Day which falls on the third Sunday in November each year.

“There are many more instances in the U.S. where you might hear ‘Taps’ being played,” Mr. Hausser said. “I was visiting friends in Wyoming and saw a flier for an upcoming American Legion 7th Cavalry Drum and Bugle Corps military ceremony and they asked for any brass players. I contacted them and they allowed me to march with them and play. What an honor it was.”

That meeting actually followed another magical event on his trip, when Mr. Hausser crossed paths with a former LRMC patient.

“His name was Chris Sutton and when I saw him, we knew we’d talked before. He’d actually been in a coma part of the time he was at Landstuhl. I participated with the Legion 7th Corps in a rendition of “Echo Taps” which is a moving tribute where several buglers begin playing at different times. It echoes distinctly and people love hearing it.”

A few years ago, Mr. Hausser met a loadmaster assigned to Ramstein. That relationship evolved into Mr. Hausser’s inclusion on a Web site forum dedicated previously only to U.S. military personnel. Today, he has a bond with many LRMC staffers, including strong relationships with liaisons from the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, 101st Infantry Division, reserve and National Guard and people from units based in Europe.

“He’s always been cordial to me and our personnel,” said Staff Sergeant Scott Jordan, a 10th Mountain Division liaison at Landstuhl. “He has a lot of respect for officers who come through here and is very pleasant. We talk about his German military experiences every once in a while.”

Mr. Hausser’s pride in his own country shows when Germany is involved in sports competitions or on national holidays and he also displays a mutual admiration for American customs and ideals on a routine basis.

“Americans fed people in Berlin (after World War II) and they protected us during the Cold War and also today,” Mr. Hausser said. “Today, they are spearheading the war on terrorism and they are still fighting for peace and for freedom. People should recognize that all of that means a lot.”

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