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Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment arrive at Vilseck, Germany, on Tuesday.

Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment arrive at Vilseck, Germany, on Tuesday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment arrive at Vilseck, Germany, on Tuesday.

Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment arrive at Vilseck, Germany, on Tuesday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

The children of some of the newly-arrived 2nd Cav soldiers watch cartoons while they wait for their parents to finish in-processing.

The children of some of the newly-arrived 2nd Cav soldiers watch cartoons while they wait for their parents to finish in-processing. (Seth Robson / S&S)

VILSECK, Germany — Three hundred 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment troops and family members arrived in Germany on Tuesday from the States, the largest contingent yet to make the trek to its new headquarters.

Moments after soldiers and families arrived, a thunderstorm struck Vilseck, bringing torrents of rain, wind and lightning that knocked down street signs and felled several large trees.

During the storm, single soldiers took shelter in large sheds while families kept dry inside a gymnasium.

Dick Cooper, deputy chief of the Directorate for Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security operations at Grafenwöhr, said another 300 soldiers and family members would arrive Wednesday.

Before the back-to-back charter flights, more than 1,000 Stryker soldiers were already on the ground in Vilseck. They arrived with the unit’s advance party and in smaller groups, he said.

Next week there will be a break for the July Fourth holiday but after that, charter flights of Stryker soldiers will arrive each week until mid-August, when the bulk of the 3,500-strong unit will be in country, he said.

“The biggest undertaking is trying to get as many people into permanent quarters as we can on their first day in country,” Cooper said.

About 40 percent of new arrivals go to the Chrystal Inn — Vilseck’s on-post hotel — and stay eight to 10 days while they choose private rentals off post, he said.

Inside the gymnasium, spouses talked to each other while children played or watched cartoons on a big-screen television.

Vicky Cunningham, Grafenwöhr Garrison’s volunteer coordinator, handed out fliers for local thrift shops, welcome packets and squeezable rubber stress balls with American flags printed on them.

“I manned the USO (United Service Organizations) table at Nürnberg Airport this morning,” she said. “They (the soldiers and their families) are just really tired right now and ready to go to their houses.”

Army public affairs officers prevented Stars and Stripes from interviewing the new arrivals but allowed interviews with other 2nd Cav soldiers.

One of them, Capt. Julia Baun, 26, of Buffalo, N.Y., said she had been in Germany for a month and had already visited Wiesbaden and Munich. Baun said she would help new arrivals with transportation and housing issues.

Another 2nd Cav soldier, Spc. Cameron Vickery, 19, of Ark City, Kan., was also helping new arrivals. On Tuesday he was responsible for two single soldiers whom he was showing around.

“I tell them now would be a good time to travel around Europe,” he said. “Don’t just watch TV like you do in the States.”

author picture
Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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