Germans join in ceremony forAmericans who fell in Iraq

10th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

10 September 2004 , BAUMHOLDER - German military officers and mayors attended an unveiling ceremony Friday for a memorial to 20 American soldiers killed in fighting in Iraq as the rest of the US armoured division was welcomed home to Germany. Officials from the local state, Rhineland Palatinate, were absent from the ceremony, underlining German ambivalence about the invasion of Iraq. Berlin has consistently refused any part in the operation, saying it destabilized Iraq and the Middle East. The memorial sto

10 September 2004

BAUMHOLDER - German military officers and mayors attended an unveiling ceremony Friday for a memorial to 20 American soldiers killed in fighting in Iraq as the rest of the US armoured division was welcomed home to Germany.

Officials from the local state, Rhineland Palatinate, were absent from the ceremony, underlining German ambivalence about the invasion of Iraq. Berlin has consistently refused any part in the operation, saying it destabilized Iraq and the Middle East.

The memorial stone, in the form of an open book on a plinth, was put up at Baumholder, a town in western Germany that has been home since 1971 to the 1st Armoured Division, nicknamed Old Ironsides.

The unit rolled into Iraq last year with its tanks and 5,000 personnel and has now been rotated out at the end of its 15-month tour of duty.

Divisional spokesmen said 28 personnel from Baumholder would never come back: the others had died of illness or in accidents in Iraq. The total number of US military killed in the Iraq fighting passed 1,000 this week.

"Our comrades have paid a high price for the freedom of the Iraqi people," said Colonel Ralph O. Baker at the unveiling, watched by a large US crowd and uniformed officers of the German armed forces.

For those who returned safe to their families at the base, the military held a welcoming ceremony military and a funfair Friday afternoon.

For the town of Baumholder, where Americans outnumbered Germans for decades, the return is only temporary. The Pentagon plans to move the 1st Armoured, which also uses several other German bases, out of Germany within the next decade.

That means that the entire Baumholder facility will be closed.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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