GIESSEN, Germany — In March, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, now commanding U.S. ground forces in Iraq, sent a letter to the mayor of a small German city north of Frankfurt.

In the letter, the then-1st Armored Division commander thanked Bernd Rohde, mayor of Bad Nauheim, for his community’s continued support and solidarity. Sanchez said such support would become especially crucial in the coming weeks and months as U.S. troops deploy to southwest Asia.

“Please understand,” Sanchez wrote, “that your expressions of support, regardless of what form they take, are comforting and greatly appreciated by our family members during these exceptional and difficult times.”

The letter spurred Rohde and his staff to do even more.

In conjunction with the 284th Base Support Battalion, the mayors of Bad Nauheim, Butzbach, Friedberg and Giessen will host an Oktoberfest on Oct. 10 at the Trinkkuranlage in Bad Nauheim.

The festival, which will run from 3 to 6 p.m., will feature free food, drinks and entertainment.

“We want to show our solidarity with all the families who have soldiers in southwest Asia,” said Johannes Lenz, Bad Nauheim’s director of cultural services.

Plans for the outdoor festival are still being worked out, but Lenz said the three-hour event would include big band music and a performance by an Elvis impersonator.

In addition, there will be free transportation to the fest and back to the posts, children’s games, and food and drinks commonly found at any Oktoberfest celebration.

Organizers are hoping to draw at least a couple of hundred Americans.

“The idea,” said Petra Roberts, spokeswoman for the 284th BSB, “is to get them out of the housing area for an afternoon of fun.”

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