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From left: Veterans of Foreign Wars members Donald Cannon, Kurt Spohr and George Eby share a joke at the club's new Grafenwohr headquarters on Friday.

From left: Veterans of Foreign Wars members Donald Cannon, Kurt Spohr and George Eby share a joke at the club's new Grafenwohr headquarters on Friday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — George Eby and his mates at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10692 will open their new headquarters at Grafenwöhr’s Main Post — building No. 506 — next week.

The headquarters, which replaces the VFW’s old home in what used to be a small off-post theatre, includes a kitchen, outdoor area and latrines — things the old facility lacked.

Eby, 78, the post quartermaster, arrived in Germany on a troop ship in 1951, but he spent most of his first four years in-country confined to base. In those days, soldiers were not allowed off-post in their free time, he explained.

He’s been at Grafenwöhr since 1972 but trained here plenty in the ’50s.

That was when he met Elvis Presley, who was serving with the 3rd Armored Division.

“I knew Elvis,” Eby said. “He used to hang out at Mickey’s Bar and Nightclub (outside Gate 1).

“There is a church there now.”

The two soldiers met a couple of times in the training area.

“He was a regular soldier,” Eby recalled. “He didn’t want any special benefits. He was OK when he was in the military, but drugs got to him later.”

But Elvis’ visit was not the most memorable event in Grafen- wöhr’s post-war history, Eby said.

“That was when the artillery round came in,” he said. “That was in late 1958 or 1959. It hit in Camp Kasserine and I think we lost 22 troops.”

These days range control has a good handle on safety but in the old days accidents were more common.

On Friday VFW adjutant Kurt Spohr, 51, was helping Eby move furniture, posters, flags and plaques into the headquarters.

Spohr said VFW members help veterans living in northern Bavaria, honor 10 U.S. servicemembers buried in the Grafenwöhr cemetery and, on Memorial Day, visit the graves of two unknown U.S. airmen from World War II nearby at the former Nazi concentration camp of Flossenberg. They also sponsor essay contests for schoolchildren.

The post distributes free telephone cards to soldiers from locally-based units who deploy downrange. Members also attend every homecoming for units that return, he said.

The VFW holds its first meeting in the new headquarters on Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. Membership is open to any servicemember who has served in a combat zone or South Korea, Cannon said.

To join contact the Grafenwöhr VFW at: 09644-6949 or cell: 0162-827-8035.

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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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