On May 5, 1945, a day after peacefully liberating the German towns of Obersalzberg and Berchtesgaden, Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division raised the Stars and Stripes over the Obersalzburg as the European theater of World War II was drawing to a close.
Fast-forward 71 years, the Stars and Stripes were again raised over the Obersalzberg as the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division's Outpost International hosted a ceremony May 5, 2016, marking the anniversary of the town's liberation.
May 5, 2016 - A combined color guard of Soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and the German Bundeswehr take part in a ceremony marking the 71st Anniversary of the Liberation of Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg, Germany. The ceremony, hosted by the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division's Outpost International, showcased the more than seven decades of German-American friendship since the 3rd Infantry Division liberated the towns in 1945 (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randy Ready)
Retired Army Capt. Monica Stoy, the president for Outpost International, said the ceremony was not just a commemoration, but also a celebration.
“That day also marked the beginning of a new relationship between the United States and Germany,” said Stoy. “One that moved rapidly from victor and vanquished, to partners and then to friends.”
Stoy said the ceremony's combined color guard, composed of current Soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and the German 232 Mountain Infantry Battalion, is a reflection of the ongoing partnership and friendship.
Jennifer Gavito, the U.S. Consul General in Munich, echoed President Barack Obama's remarks from last year's G-7 Summit in Munich when speaking of the more than seven decades of German-American, and specifically Bavarian-American, friendship.
“The events of 1945 continue to serve as proof that conflicts can end and great progress can emerge from them,” said Gavito. “The partnerships forged out of those weeks and months 71 years ago – a partnership which sustained us through the Cold War and reunification - gave way, in President Obama's words, to one of the strongest alliances the world has even known.”
U.S. Army Col. James Crider, a former 1st Brigade commander currently assigned to U.S. Army Europe, said the relationships built through NATO are just as important now as the European continent prepares for new threats, to include the rise of ISIS and a revanchist Russia.
“Today, NATO is adjusting its stance in Europe from assurance to deterrence,” said Crider. “Effective deterrence requires the demonstration of credible capability and the will to use it.”
A big part of that capability includes 1st Brigade Soldiers, currently in Europe as the Regionally Allocated Force for U.S. European Command, who were able to take part in the ceremony.
For Spc. Kourtney Winner, an intelligence analyst with 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, the highlight of the ceremony was meeting with Mr. Robert Dutil, a native of Williams, California who served in the Division from October 1944 to the end of the war and was present for the initial flag raising on May 5, 1945.
“It was fascinating; he was a very nice guy to talk to,” said Winner, a native of Pataskala, Ohio. “The Army was completely different when he was in.”
Having current Dog Face Soldiers participate in the ceremony helped them gain a better appreciation of the Division's history and the sacrifices the previous generations have made.
“It was extremely inspiring and I learned a lot of history about what the 3ID has done,” said Spc. Scott Gaines, a petroleum fuel specialist with the 3rd Brigade Support Battalion from Seattle. “It was special remembering everyone, especially Mr. Dutil and the troops he was with from the 3rd ID.”
Gaines said it was an honor to be part of the ceremony while inspiring him to add to the illustrious history of the Marne Division.
For Crider, the brigade's current mission, strengthening relationships and building interoperability by training alongside NATO Allies, is the best way for the current Soldiers to write their part in history while honoring previous generations.
“Another war on the European continent is unthinkable and perhaps even unlikely,” stated Crider. “Let us all remain united and demonstrate to the enemies of freedom that we plan to keep it that way. Perhaps this is the best way to honor the sacrifice of those we remember today.”
By U.S. Army Maj. Randy Ready
Provided through DVIDS
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