After Hours: Oasis bar a haven for troops wounded downrange
Stars and Stripes August 10, 2006
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Some pubs are special because of their distinctive décor. Some bars are worth stepping into because of their music or just because their drinks are so darn cheap.
The Oasis Unit Lounge is unique because of the people who frequent Kleber Kaserne’s only bar.
Bartender Art Brown estimates that 95 percent of the customers are wounded troops from either Afghanistan or Iraq. The small Army base on the eastern edge of the city serves as a temporary quarters for deployed American servicemembers being treated at nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“A lot of them have stories,” Brown said after serving another round of Jack and Coke to a group of soldiers. “They all have different kinds of injuries from downrange.”
The Oasis is their bar, a place only a few hundred yards from where the wounded soldiers sleep. For some injured servicemembers who can’t get a pass to go off base but are thirsty for a drink, it is the only option.
No matter. Many troops fresh from the war zone, where alcohol is prohibited by the military, don’t care. Any place with cold beer and within walking distance from their bed will often do.
Johnny Cromartie, the lounge manager since it opened in 1998, said the Oasis is a place soldiers can come to unwind.
“We try and make it as comfortable for them as possible,” he said.
The Oasis also is popular with soldiers who work on the base, including Army reservists who rotate in and out for their annual training.
“I used to come just to relax after a hard day,” said 1st Sgt. Nedra Maryland of the North Carolina-based 848th Quartermasters, which is deployed to Kaiserslautern for annual training.
The bar serves up typical American cocktails such as Alabama Slammers, Cosmopolitans, Long Island Iced Tea and Sex on the Beach. German and American beers also are available.
On a Tuesday evening, Jack and Coke seemed to be the most requested drink.
Hungry patrons can order from the snack bar, which offers everything from steak to burgers. The “Farmer Pizza” is topped with corn, pepperoni, ham and bell peppers. Chicken wings are a popular order.
The bar — which is operated by Morale, Welfare and Recreation — has a couple of pool tables, a small game room with pinball and video games, and an area with slot machines. Flat-screen TVs tuned to the news programs hang upon several of the walls.
Although the Oasis is often full of soldiers from Iraq or Afghanistan, the bar is open to anyone who has access to the base.
If you’re looking to buy a drink for a weary servicemember only days removed from combat, there isn't a better place in the area. This is their spot to kick back.
Just keep in mind you’ll have to bring plenty of money.
As always, if you drink, do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive.
Oasis Unit Lounge
Drink prices: American beer costs $2.25. German beer costs $2.75. An Alabama Slammer will cost you $7.50, while a Long Island Iced Tea runs $5.75. It's on post so customers can pay in dollars.
Entertainment: Flat-screen TVs broadcast the news or sports. There's a small game room with pinball machines and video games. One room has slot machines. There are pool tables.
Clientele: U.S. servicemembers. Most of them either work on base or are from Iraq and Afghanistan and are being treated for injuries or various medical conditions at nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Dress: No dress code here. Come in your uniform if you want.
Location: Building 3243, Kleber Kaserne, Kaiserslautern, Germany
Hours: Open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Open until midnight the rest of the week.