Support our mission
Daniel Pond, the founder and owner of Pond Security Group, poses for a portrait in his Erlensee, Germany, office. What started as a three-man operation in the early '80s has grown into a multifaceted company that provides 80 percent of the security to U.S. Army instillations in Germany, employing more than 3,000 security guards.

Daniel Pond, the founder and owner of Pond Security Group, poses for a portrait in his Erlensee, Germany, office. What started as a three-man operation in the early '80s has grown into a multifaceted company that provides 80 percent of the security to U.S. Army instillations in Germany, employing more than 3,000 security guards. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

European edition, Sunday, July 29, 2007

ERLENSEE, Germany — Daniel Pond heard about the trouble at Family Land, an old Hanau hot spot popular among bikers, boozers and troublemaking rabble.

At his martial arts studio just a couple of blocks from the riffraff, Pond told his students to steer clear. Family Land might be a moneymaker for city fathers — who raked in the rewards of chaos in the form of taxes — but mixing with the mischief-minded at the party hub spelled danger.

“It became a violent place. It was a real circus,” said Pond, who learned to escape danger as a homeless orphan on the streets of war-ravaged South Korea.

It was 1982. Pond ran a small business in his adopted home of Germany. He didn’t know it, but Family Land would change everything for him.

“Family Land was a big success,” Pond said. “They thought of everything except security.”

He was soon sowing the seeds of an empire.

At an Asian heritage event this past spring in Kaiserslautern, Pond was a guest speaker. Lt. Col. Mechelle B. Hale, garrison commander, introduced Pond this way: “He is a person who has been trusted to protect our own very lives.”

Who is the man behind the name? Hale inquired.

Born sometime in 1947 or 1948, Pond was orphaned at the tail end of the Korean War. For about a year he wandered on the streets, begging for food, bathing in rivers and learning how to fend for himself.

In the city of Taegu, Pond stumbled onto an American military base late one night. Lights flashed and guards aimed their guns at him. In those days, there were fears that children could have bombs attached to them, Pond said.

Pond was brought into the fold. An airman named Bill Pond took him under his wing. When Bill Pond and his fellow airmen left South Korea, “They just threw me on the plane and we landed in Japan,” he said.

Bill Pond then helped him escape to America by obtaining the necessary documents — likely forged — since the boy possessed no birth certificate or documents, he said. In 1954, Daniel Pond moved to San Diego, where he was raised by Bill Pond’s mother, who died in 1977.

Pond applied for citizenship in 1966 before joining the Army. That’s when he legally changed his name to Pond. Obtaining citizenship was just a formality, though.

“I always thought I was American,” he said.

After leaving the Army, Pond stayed in Germany and opened his martial arts studio, Pon Do Kwan, in Hanau. In 1974, he finished second in the Tae Kwon Do Masters World Championship in Canada. His office is filled with trophies from his fighting days.

“Martial arts is my only real education. I pretty much live my martial arts,” said Pond, who still trains four days a week.

Keeping the peace

Back iIn 1982, security guards and cops were among Pond’s martial arts students. Often, the men would come to class with problems they encountered in the real world. Pond would teach them techniques to respond.

About that time, one of the owners of Family Land, frustrated that his 15 guards and bouncers couldn’t keep the peace, came to Pond for help.

“Family Land was the first time I got a chance to apply all my theories,” said Pond, who worked security there with two of his students.

After three or four months, the three men established order, Pond said. After that success, Pond received his German Security Services license and formally launched Pond Security with 12 security guards.

Customers soon came calling.

author picture
John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
twitter Email

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