‘Living piece of history’ retires from LRMC

Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

***image1***Horst Breitenborn’s 40 years of dining facility service at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center evolved into a way of life.

Mr. Breitenborn was recognized Tuesday at a ceremony inside the Kirchberg Room at LRMC where friends and co-workers said goodbye. He began his dining facility service at the 2nd General Hospital, LRMC’s designation in the mid-60s, working alongside veterans of the Korean War.

“I’ve watched the hospital grow over time but the workload has always been busy,” Mr. Breitenborn said. “When I started in 1965, I worked with Mr. Edwin Galenschowski, and he’d been here since 1952. We had three Soldiers working with us, but at times they were called away by their commanders and it would just be us. Things were kind of different back then.”

Mr. Breitenborn, 60, described how meal plans were written up three months in advance and sent to Washington for review. Food was procured by LRMC staffers who drove out to east Kaiserslautern and bought it from the Eselsfürth Army Depot. Meat came in the form of full animal carcasses that had to be cut up and de-boned in the dining facility kitchen.

“Patients would stay here a long time and we always had lots to cook for,” Mr. Breitenborn said, adding that he estimated the dining facility served about 1,200 meals per day in the 1970s.  “Today the patients are here usually for only a couple of days.”

Lt. Col. Laurie Sweet, the head of LRMC’s Nutrition Care Division, said the facility currently prepares between 1,800-2,000 meals each day. She called Mr. Breitenborn a “living piece of history” during opening remarks at the ceremony and described a man who mentored U.S. servicemembers, always wore a smile, and constantly strove to ensure patient safety.

“He’s never worked for very long with a continuous group of people because in the military, people are always moving,” Colonel Sweet said. “He’s provided stability, though, with his own extended period of service. Even when operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom increased activity at this hospital, he never missed a beat.”

A father of two children, Mr. Breitenborn said he’ll assist his wife, Gerda, in continuing the constant remodeling of their home while also making time for new grandchildren. He said LRMC always served as a haven for staffers to live, work and bond as a team.

“I’ve always gone home from here and pictured in my mind what’s in the freezers, what we need to buy, what we’d be doing the next day,” said Mr. Breitenborn. “I’d picture faces of people who I needed to talk to about things we were doing. If you don’t do that sort of thing and you don’t treat it as if it’s your family, then you haven’t been around long enough to know how to do it right.

“I was always confident that I was doing it right. I kept my area clean and straight and I had good relationships with people. I will miss this place. I really will.”