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2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldier Staff Sgt. Thomas Murphy stood amongst piles of brown cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper as movers helped his family settle in.

2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldier Staff Sgt. Thomas Murphy stood amongst piles of brown cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper as movers helped his family settle in. (Seth Robson / S&S)

2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldier Staff Sgt. Thomas Murphy stood amongst piles of brown cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper as movers helped his family settle in.

2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldier Staff Sgt. Thomas Murphy stood amongst piles of brown cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper as movers helped his family settle in. (Seth Robson / S&S)

On Friday afternoon 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment spouse Tammy Williams kisses her son, Braden, 7 months old, at their new house in Netzaberg.

On Friday afternoon 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment spouse Tammy Williams kisses her son, Braden, 7 months old, at their new house in Netzaberg. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Murphy and his family settled into a three-bedroom, three-story row house in Netzaberg.

Murphy and his family settled into a three-bedroom, three-story row house in Netzaberg. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Grace Griffin, 8, plays with her younger brother, Brady, 7 months old, at their new house in Netzaberg.

Grace Griffin, 8, plays with her younger brother, Brady, 7 months old, at their new house in Netzaberg. (Seth Robson / S&S)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The first residents are moving in to Netzaberg, an 830-home military housing area built for some of the thousands of troops that will arrive at Grafenwöhr as the U.S. Army closes other installations in Europe over the next few years.

The off-post community — the largest civilian or military housing project under way in Europe – will include middle and elementary schools (due to open next year), a child development center, a gas station and a shoppette and will have its own access road to Grafenwöhr’s main post.

Last week Netzaberg was a flurry of activity as the first families arrived, took delivery of household goods and set up their new homes.

On Friday afternoon, 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldier Staff Sgt. Thomas Murphy stood amongst piles of brown cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper as movers helped his family settle into a three-bedroom, three-story row house on Henry-Kissinger-Strasse.

Murphy, who is preparing to deploy to Iraq with the rest of 2nd Cav in August, arrived in Germany three weeks ago with wife Nikky and daughters Jasmine, 9, and Isabella, 14 months.

The family shipped their belongings from the U.S. in April. The goods arrived in Grafenwöhr on Monday and they had the house by Tuesday, he said.

“Housing helped us out a lot. Because of the deployment I guess they are trying to get everyone in,” he said.

The Netzaberg housing looks a lot like an American neighborhood, Murphy said, adding that he’s glad he’s not living in some of the older on-post housing at Grafenwöhr.

Just down the street another 2nd Cav soldier, Spc. Mitchell Griffin, has just moved into a three-bedroom duplex with his wife, Gretchen, and their two kids — Brady, 7 months, and Grace, 8.

The family, who arrived in Germany a year ago with the bulk of the regiment, moved to Netzaberg on Tuesday and were still arranging their belongings on Friday, Gretchen Griffin said.

They have been on a waiting list to get into Netzaberg since they got here, making do with a third-floor stairwell apartment on post at Grafenwöhr, she said.

“In the stairwell we were with a bunch of single people who were partying all the time and it was really loud. It’s more family-oriented here,” she said.

The new house also has a lot more storage space than the apartment, along with a garage and a yard, “… and we don’t have to go up and down a million stairs to get to our house,” Gretchen Griffin said.

Grace Griffin appeared just as pleased as her mother with the new house.

“I like the playroom downstairs. I have a lot of toys and I can just put them down there. I didn’t have enough room at the old place, they had to be in a closet,” she said.

Other appealing features include a nearby park and safe streets where children can ride bikes, Gretchen Griffin said.

“We are excited about the move. This is by far the best military housing we’ve been in,” she said.

The Griffins’ next-door neighbors — Sgt. Brad Williams, also from 2nd Cav, his wife, Tammy, and their 7-month-old son, Braden — moved in on Monday.

The family had just come to Grafenwöhr from Friedberg, where they lived in an off-post rental home, Tammy Williams said.

“We came here early to get on the list because we heard it was a six-month wait. We were kind of surprised (to get a house so fast). We didn’t know Netzaberg was going to open so soon,” she said.

The best thing about the Netzaberg house is a yard for the family dog, Lexi, she said.

The best thing about the neighborhood is living close to other families of deploying soldiers, she said.

“I’ll be around Americans who are deploying, too, and have the support. I wouldn’t have had that off post,” she said.

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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