2005 in review: In Europe, high gas prices and changing commands
With transformation plans and troops serving in wars on two fronts, 2005 was a busy year for the U.S. military in Europe.
From saying goodbye to generals known as “Doc” and “B.B.” to hosting a president known as “W,” U.S. servicemembers in Europe have witnessed a variety of events.
There were sad times, such as an April memorial service for nine airmen from RAF Mildenhall, England. There were happy times, including the May welcome-home celebration in Kitzingen, Germany, for the 1st Infantry Division after its yearlong Iraq deployment.
There were historic times as Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany — the “Gateway to Europe” — closed its gates after more than 60 years. Or when with a female pilot from RAF Lakenheath, England, in June becoming the first woman to make the Air Force’s Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team.
There were stressful times, such as when an Army official said military families in Europe would head back to the States — due to transformation — before their deployed spouses returned from downrange. That decision was later clarified by letting families know they would move back to the States with their husbands and wives in the military.
And there were those laughable times, like when Hooters held a summer news conference to announce it would open a restaurant near Ramstein, Germany.
Some of the most watched stories were the ones that hit you in the wallet, such as cost-of-living allowance adjustments, and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s gas prices.
A gallon of regular unleaded in Germany cost you just over $2 in January. In November, that same gallon of gas put you back nearly $2.80. By December, the price had fallen to around $2.50.
Here’s to hoping that gas prices aren’t a top story in 2006. Cheers.
Jan. 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.046.
Jan. 18: 1st Armored Division soldiers receive deployment warning orders for Iraq, letting soldiers know the division would be deploying for a second time to Iraq.
Feb. 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $1.974.
Feb. 22: First lady Laura Bush visits Ramstein Air Base and wounded troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.
Feb. 23: President Bush speaks to roughly 3,000 troops at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Germany.
March 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.073.
March 15: U.S. Army’s Southern European Task Force (Airborne) out of Italy takes command of operations in Afghanistan to begin its yearlong deployment.
March 31: Army Capt. Roger Maynulet is found guilty at a Wiesbaden court-martial of assault in the May 2004 death of a wounded Iraqi man.
April 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.190.
April 6: A memorial service is held for nine U.S. airmen stationed at RAF Mildenhall, who died March 31 after their -130H Combat Talon II hit a mountain in Albania.
May 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.392.
May 16: 1st Infantry Division welcomed home at Kitzingen, Germany, during celebration after the division’s yearlong deployment to Iraq.
May 16: All Europe-based soldiers affected by transformation in coming years will move with their families, Army officials say. The announcement clarifies an earlier statement by the acting undersecretary of the Army, saying that families would leave Europe for the States before their spouses returned from deployment.
June 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.357.
June 2: Russian and U.S. soldiers participate in a joint live-fire operation in Grafenwöhr, Germany.
June 16: Air Force Capt. Nicole Malachowski, an F-15C/E pilot from RAF Lakenheath, becomes the first female pilot named to the Air Force Thunderbirds.
July 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.306.
July 4: Landstuhl Regional Medical Center treats 25,000th patient from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
July 7: Terrorists detonate four bombs in central London; U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy ban travel to the England capital, drawing ire of English.
July 14: A C-17 leaves Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to begin a mission transporting Rwandan troops to the western Sudan region of Darfur.
July 29: U.S. troops in Germany will leave five major bases and six smaller facilities in 2006, with the sites to be turned over to the German government by Sept. 30, 2007, U.S. Army Europe announces.
Aug. 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.455.
Aug. 11: City government building in Baumholder, Germany, set ablaze, causing about $1.5 million in damage. Three U.S. soldiers charged in mini-crime wave that culminated in the fire.
Aug. 27: Base Realignment and Closure Commission authorizes moving more than 14,600 troops from Germany to four U.S. bases in coming years as part of the Army’s transformation efforts.
Sept. 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.635.
Sept. 27: U.S. Army Europe announces that soldiers will see adjustments to their COLA starting in January 2006. Adjustments range from an increase of 9 percent to a decrease of nearly 37 percent, depending on location. Most troops will see reductions in their COLA.
Oct. 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.715.
Oct. 10: Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt closes after 60 years and is returned to Germany. Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases become main U.S. military air hubs in Europe.
Nov. 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.783.
Nov. 18: Hooters opens its first restaurant in Germany. The Neunkirchen restaurant is 30 minutes down the autobahn from U.S. troops serving in the Kaiserslautern military community.
Dec. 1: AAFES’ price for gallon of regular unleaded gas in Germany: $2.518.
Dec. 5: Gen. Tom Hobbins becomes the 34th commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, replacing Gen. Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong.
Dec. 7: U.S. signs agreement to have bases in Romania. Bulgarian defense minister says U.S. and Bulgarian officials expect to reach an agreement on basing American troops in Bulgaria by March.
Dec. 14: Gen. David D. McKiernan assumes command of U.S. Army Europe from Gen. B.B. Bell.
Dec. 15: A total of 475 families evacuated from Maranai military housing complex at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, after days of heavy rains flooded the area.
Dec. 23: The 2nd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, based in Baumholder will remain in Kuwait as a “call-forward force” instead of deploying to Iraq as originally planned.