Info fair at Spangdahlem touts Eifel region’s sites
Stars and Stripes June 23, 2007
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — Here’s an order that shouldn’t get any complaints: Take the day off, get off base and see Germany.
That’s right. Your mission is to travel.
OK, it’s not really an order. But commanders at Spangdahlem Air Base are strongly encouraging airmen to get off base during the week of July Fourth and spend some time traveling around the area.
To help airmen decide where they want to go and what they want to do, the base held the third annual “Explore the Eifel” information fair at the base fitness center on Friday. Dozens of travel and tourist representatives from the Eifel region offered everything from a wine-tasting tour along the Mosel River to a run around a nearby indoor go-kart track.
Commanders made attending the mini-convention mandatory and blocked off time during the day so everyone could stroll among the different booths.
Senior Airman Pamela Obenchain of the 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron said she likes to travel, but she found out about some new spots she would like to check out during her tour in Germany.
“This really helps people realize what there is to do in the area,” she said, clutching two brown paper bags filled with brochures.
The Fourth of July holiday along with runway construction will offer most airmen three consecutive days off to see the Eifel area, where the base is located. Exhibitors offered special trips especially for the Americans during the holiday.
Former 52nd Fighter Wing commander Brig. Gen. Dave Goldfein came up with the idea of giving airmen the time off to go and experience the culture in hopes that it would enrich their overseas tours. Col. Darryl Roberson, the current commander, has continued the popular initiative.
In just three years, exhibitors said they have noticed the result: More Americans are getting out and traveling the area.
Johann Kremer, who worked at the base for 45 years as a civilian employee until retiring in 2002, said the local community is welcoming Americans with open arms.
“I think it is very, very important for Americans to find out that there is more out there than the base,” Kremer said.
The fair gave towns and villages a short drive from the base’s main gate to show what they have to offer, from bike paths to castles. Wittlich, a nearby town that is home to many Americans who work at the base, had one of the more popular booths. They offered wine and their famous sausage.
Airman 1st Class Chris Whitehead said Americans would be surprised by the activities available.
“I think this is great for first-time airmen who’ve never been here to see what there is to do,” Whitehead said.