Sailors land at Landstuhl to help support war effort
November 15, 2006
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — More than 200 U.S. Navy sailors arrived here early Tuesday morning to begin a 12-month rotation at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Tuesday’s group represents the majority of about 350 sailors from Naval Reserve Fleet Hospital Great Lakes who will be serving at Landstuhl for the next year. A contingent of about 100 sailors arrived at Ramstein on Sunday.
It marks the first time a Navy group has been slated for a year rotation at Landstuhl in support of the wars in Iraqi and Afghanistan. Since 2002, Army Reserve units have been tasked with the yearly rotations.
Landstuhl, the largest American hospital outside the U.S., is staffed primarily by soldiers and airmen.
“It’s an exciting time for the Army, Navy and Air Force as we explore joint medical operations and interoperability caring for our wounded warriors from downrange and our local population,” said Army Col. Bryan Gamble, Landstuhl commander, who greeted the sailors on the Ramstein flight line and helped unload their bags.
Given the differences between the services in lingo and the naming conventions of ranks, there could be some growing pains. For example, a Navy captain is the equivalent of an Army or Air Force colonel. The Army’s favorite word, “Hooah,” might as well be German to some of the Reserve sailors. And when a sailor talks about berthing, he’s speaking about his living quarters.
“We’ve all taken time to learn the culture of the other services on a short-term basis, but on a long-term basis, we’ve never had this opportunity,” said Navy Capt. Joan Olson, deputy director of Navy personnel at Landstuhl. “I think we’ll all be learning from each other. I can’t wait for them to understand all our Navy terms, like ‘passageway,’ ‘head,’ ‘galley’ and all those things we’re already throwing around.”
While at Landstuhl, sailors will fill jobs from cooks and administrative staff to doctors and nurses. A majority of the sailors are reservists with only 30 out of the roughly 350 being active-duty Navy.
Petty Officer 1st Class James Walker will work in occupational therapy for the next year at Landstuhl. When Walker’s not serving in the Navy Reserve, the 44-year-old is a physical therapist assistant in Tampa, Fla.
“It’ll be the highlight of my career,” Walker said. “I’m looking forward to it.”