BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Commanders tried to keep the achievement secret, but the massive pizza delivery told the Battery B soldiers that something was up.

Though they didn’t know it, the soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment had just reached a milestone — 1,000 days without a single driving-under- the-influence violation.

Their reward: free pizza and a four-day weekend.

“I’ve never seen a unit go this long,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Matsel, congratulating soldiers assembled in formation on Thursday.

Soldiers said they were surprised to learn about the nearly three-year streak, which had been kept under wraps to avoid a jinx. Still, they cited numerous reasons for the successful run.

For starters, there’s the taxi fund that soldiers can tap into then repay if they get into a bind. Thorough courtesy patrols also have proven effective at curtailing possible trouble, according to the unit.

Then there was the accident a couple of years ago in which a Battery B private was a passenger in a car driven by a drunken driver. The soldier ended up paralyzed.

“I think that makes it more personal for us,” said Capt. Dave McRae, the battery commander.

But most of all, commanders and soldiers credited senior noncommissioned officers, who in some cases field late-night phone calls and provide the occasional ride home.

“People take things really personal in this unit. I think a lot of it has to do with First Sergeant (Daron Curry). If you do something wrong it’s like disappointing your dad,” said Sgt. Jacob Yescas said.

During the small celebration Thursday, soldiers ate pizza and smashed cream pies into the faces of leaders, raising money for an upcoming battery dinner. The unit, based at Strassburg Kaserne in Idar-Oberstein, will relocate to the States this year.

Before releasing soldiers for their long weekend, McRae told his unit to keep the streak alive.

Soldiers said they were confident there would be no slip-ups.

“These are a great group of guys,” Staff Sgt. Jose Miranda said. “They get it done.”

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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