Garrison recognizes longtime employees

Story and photo by Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

Forty years ago, just one day after Erika Darsow left school in Zweibrücken, she landed a job with the U.S. Army. And she’s been helping Soldiers ever since.

Darsow was among more than 40 U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern employees recognized for their length of service during a ceremony Tuesday at Armstrong’s Club on Vogelweh. Dozens of garrison staff, family and friends joined Lt. Col. Lars Zetterstrom, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, to congratulate them.

“Your dedication and commitment to the Army is admirable and we owe you our gratitude,” he said.

While Darsow has held various positions over the past four decades, she’s spent the past 18 years as a purchasing agent with the garrison’s logistics directorate. When Soldiers misplace a government car key, bump a fender or run over a nail, they turn to Darsow to offer solutions that help them complete their missions.
“I try to help and we do what we can,” Darsow said. “When you can help, for me that’s good.”

In 1971, a neighbor who worked Kreuzberg Kaserne — then a U.S. installation in Zweibrücken — suggested that Darsow should start work there. Then 18, Darsow took that advice. When the post closed in 1993, Darsow migrated to Kaiserslautern. She admits, after all these years, she never really learned the Army ranks.

“You just say hello to the customer,” Darsow said. “For me, a private is the same as anyone.”

Now a grandmother, whose son serves in the German Army, Darsow looks forward to attending local soccer games and taking vacations. Sometimes she wonders where the time has gone, she said. 

“I never was thinking when I started that I would work with the Army 40 years,” Darsow said. “Not everybody can work 40 years at one place.”

During the event, Zetterstrom highlighted the contributions that civilians add to the Army’s missions.

“The dedication of our civilian work force has remained constant through changing times,” Zetterstrom said. “I’m always amazed at their perseverance in the face of the many challenges they face.” 

Among the recipients was Bradford Harris, who joined the U.S. Air Force in 1961, when computers he used filled entire rooms and processed data using punch cards. After retiring at Sembach in the late 1980’s, Harris sold encyclopedias in Kaiserslautern and worked states for the U.S. census before landing a civilian job at Vogelweh’s bowling center.

“I did that same job when I was 18 back in Oklahoma,” Harris said. “My life did a complete circle.”

Soon after, the Army hired Harris for his computer skills, which he uses each day to assist colleagues within the garrison’s directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. During the ceremony, Harris was recognized for 45 years of government service.

“It makes me feel good and useful, that my talents still help people do their job,” Harris said.

List of Award Winners
Five Years
Sesame Latrelle Aboagye
Ebony Bowman-Herriot
Oliver Feix
Andreas Hog
Juergen-Klaus Kneip
Kark-Heinz Lehmann
David Manera
Thomas Pidanset
Fabian Reidenbach
Christian Ros
Martin Sauer
Markus Schildknecht
Marco Steinacker
Judith Vita
Alexander Wagner
Andreas Zell

Ten Years
Jens Danner
Nathalie French
Teresa Klaehn
Susanne Sittenauer

Fifteen Years
Steven Coulter
Tunde Dunai
Angela Inostroz

Twenty-Five Years
Michael Bauer
Mark Beachum
Jurgen Berkel
Ellen Harris
Siegfried Kohl
Heins-Werner Rudolph

Thirty Years
Thomas Bern
Gayle Connelly
Dieter Frank
Hans Dieter Gohla
Erich Hor nig
Henry Kaaihue
Marion Kaufmann
Sibilla Scott
Klaus Velhagen
Edmund Vaeth

Forty Years
Erika Darsow
Liane Huether

Forty-Five Years
Bradford Harris

Certificate of Appreciation
Sgt. Clifford Long

Employee of the Quarter
Lisa Velez

Employee of the Year
Jasmine Byrne