Support our mission

HEIDELBERG, Germany — The Charlie Daniels Band will perform May 6 at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in what could have been a roaring welcome home party for 1st Armored Division troops.

Many of the post’s soldiers were supposed to be returning from Iraq following a yearlong deployment, but many have been told to expect to remain in the combat zone into the summer. So the airfield — which serves as the headquarters for the “Old Ironsides” division — sits nearly empty.

The concert had been announced in March as part of the division’s reintegration program for returning soldiers. But officials have shelved plans to call the concert a “reunion celebration.”

A spokesman for Gen. B.B. Bell, the Army’s top commander in Europe, denied the concert was ever intended as a welcome home bash.

The division’s planned return “had nothing to do with the fact that [Charlie Daniels] is playing at Wiesbaden,” said Robert Purtiman. “The only reason they chose that place is because of its central location.”

Not so, say officials for the Army’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation European division, which is sponsoring the concert.

“Originally, this was supposed to be a welcome home party for the division,” said Laura Waid, who’s helping organize the concert for MWR. “The idea was to make this a reunion celebration, but now it doesn’t look like that’s the best title for it.”

Waid said that although a few small contingents of troops have made it back to Wiesbaden, “it doesn’t look like most of the division will be here in time now.”

Instead, officials have pulled the word “reunion” and are now calling the concert simply a “country celebration,” Waid said.

Still, organizers are going out of their way to make the concert family friendly, with play areas for children that include inflatable slides and castles.

“We really want to make it fun for the families,” said Waid.

Although no coolers or videotaping is allowed, food and beverages (including beer and wine coolers) will be for sale at the concert. The event is free and open to all U.S. military ID cardholders and their families. The gates at Hangar 1036 open at 3 p.m. and the concert starts at 6 p.m.

The band, best known for its fiery, fiddle-driven “Devil Went Down to Georgia” country-rock anthem, will also play Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo on May 5 at 2 p.m.


Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up