US soldiers give ‘enemies’ a scare in German haunted village
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 31, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Soldiers dressed as monsters sent chills down the spines of their “enemies” and their families in a haunted village here over the weekend.
Dozens of soldiers with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, set up ambushes and surprised more than 800 soldiers and families who were touring the Halloween attraction.
Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, who typically play the opposing force in exercises in Germany, usually set up elaborate counterattacks and wait for hours for U.S. soldiers to walk into their ambushes. Acting as Halloween monsters was a refreshing change of pace for the soldiers.
“Making Halloween special in Germany is always a challenge since it is very much an American tradition and not readily observed in Germany,” said local teacher B.J. Nicklin, who helped with the special effects. “Making certain American kids have the same thrills and chills that the kids back home have is important to everyone in the community, and the haunted village certainly provided that.”
The mock settlement, called Uebungsdorf — meaning exercise village — is usually used for urban combat training. On Saturday and Sunday, it was outfitted to accommodate hordes of zombies. Several buildings were turned into haunted houses. One contained a laboratory, where soldiers dressed as zombies would come back to life and chase people to the next haunted attraction.
The soldiers frightened families during the day, but the village got much scarier at night, when only adults were allowed to enter.
“I am extremely proud of all the soldiers who came out to support this great event,” said 1st Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Crawford. “It was through their strong motivational and team-building skills that made the Haunted Village a success, not only for 1-4, but for the Hohenfels Community.”