The Citizen - May 2021

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Vol. 50, No.5, May 2021

Serving the Greater Stuttgart Military Community

oH noring o h w e thosserve

Photo by LiliGraphie/

A letter from the editor

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Your Citizen Team

It’s called the Stuttgart Citizen for a reason. Whether you are here for a month, a year or a decade, this is your hometown magazine. 2

May 2021

Content Letter from the editor ��������������� 02 New Arrivals at the Library ������ 04


U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart salutes volunteers ��������������������� 05

Senior Enlisted Adviser Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Norman

Managing Editor Becca Castellano

Nurses tackle new challenges amid COVID-19 & Teaching in a pandemic ������������� 06

Contributors Bardia Khajenoori, Paul Hughes, Geoffrey Morris, Gerard Mauterer, Leyla Burns

Chaplains Corner: Honor those who are gone by getting to know those still here ���� 08

Public Affairs Officer Larry Reilly


Service Spotlight: Leaving a legacy ����������������������� 09

Army Post Office Mailing Address Unit 30401, APO AE 09107

#GotTheShot ����������������������������� 12

German Mailing Address Panzer Kaserne Geb. 2949, 3rd Floor, Panzerstrasse, 70032 Böblingen

Stuttgart’s Birkenkopf, or ‘Rubble Hill’, mixes leisure, scenery, history �������������������������14

Telephone 09641-70-5962485 DSN (314) 596-2485 Website Facebook USAGarrisonStuttgart/

Cover image: Frank Riley looks at a photo of his son, Micheal, when he was a young boy. Micheal was killed in action in 2019. Read about the legacy he left behind on page 9. Photo by Becca Castellano


Home is where you make it �������� 16 Culture Corner: Cultural diversity in Stuttgart ������ 18 The Big Question: Who do you remember on Memorial Day? ����������������������� 19

AdvantiPro GmbH Europaallee 3 67657 Kaiserslautern Telephone +49 (0) 631-30 3355 30 Website Managing Director Bret Helenius ADVERTISING IN THE CITIZEN Display Advertising Contact Jennifer Holdsworth Telephone +49 (0) 631-30 3355 37 Email The Stuttgart Citizen is an authorized magazine, produced in the interest of the U.S. Army community in Stuttgart by the U.S. Army-Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office. Contents of the Citizen are not necessarily the official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government or the Department of the Army. The Stuttgart Citizen is printed by AdvantiPro, a private firm in no way connected with the U.S. Govt., under exclusive written agreement with U.S. Army Stuttgart. It is published monthly using the offset method of reproduction and has a printed circulation of 5,000 copies. Everything advertised herein shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor of the purchaser, user or patron. The appearance of advertising herein, including inserts and supplements, does not constitute endorsement by the Dept. of the Army, or AdvantiPro, of the firms, products or services advertised. Unless otherwise indicated, all seven-digit phone numbers in The Stuttgart Citizen are DSN numbers and all longer numbers are civilian.

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@usag_stuttgart May 2021


New arrivals at the library

By Becca Castellano U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Book covers and descriptions courtesy of

The weather is warming and the outdoors beckon, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your book down. Find a great summer read at the Patch Library and settle into your favorite chair on the balcony, or under a shady tree to escape the mundane and adventure somewhere new. Browse hundreds of titles, games, movies and tv shows to find something for you. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, you can request it online from another DoD library by visiting: mwrlibrary.armybiznet. com and selecting Stuttgart. Don’t let COVID-19 stop you from exploring new places and expanding your horizons. Visit the Patch Library every weekday from 10:30-6 and Saturday from 10-6 for a great read, like one of these new arrivals below.

Dune: the Graphic Novel By Frank Herbert Frank Herbert’s epic, science-fiction masterpiece is set in the far future, amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar society. It tells the story of Paul Atreides as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism, and politics, Dune is a powerful, fantastical tale that takes an unprecedented look into our universe, and is transformed by the graphic novel format. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s adaptation retains the integrity of the original novel, and Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s magnificent illustrations, along with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, bring the book to life for a new generation of readers. The Book on Pie By Erin Jeanne McDowell and Mark Weinberg Erin Jeanne McDowell, New York Times contributing baker extraordinaire and top food stylist, wrote the book on pie, a comprehensive handbook that distills all you’ll ever need to know for making perfect pies. The Book on Pie starts with the basics, including ways to mix pie dough for extra flaky crusts, storage and freezing, 4

May 2021

recipe size conversions, and expert tips for decorating and styling, before diving into the recipes for all the different kinds of pies: fruit, custard, cream, chiffon, cold set, savory, and mini. Find everything from classics like Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie, to more inspired recipes like Birthday-Cake Pie and Caramel Pork Pie with Chile and Scallions. Find recommended pie doughs and toppings with each recipe for infinitely customizable pies. The Forever Sea By Joshua Phillip Johnson The first book in a new environmental epic fantasy series set in a world where ships kept afloat by magical hearthfires sail an endless grass sea. On the never-ending, miles-high expanse of prairie grasses known as the Forever Sea, Kindred Greyreach, hearthfire keeper and sailor aboard harvesting vessel The Errant, is just beginning to fit in with the crew of her new ship when she receives devastating news. Her grandmother—The Marchess, legendary captain and hearthfire keeper—has stepped from her vessel and disappeared into the sea. But the note she leaves Kindred suggests this was not an act of suicide. Something waits in the depths, and the Marchess has set out to find it. To follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, Kindred must embroil herself in conflicts bigger than she could imagine: a water war simmering below the surface of two cultures; the politics of a mythic pirate city floating beyond the edges of safe seas; battles against beasts of the deep, driven to the brink of madness; and the elusive promise of a world below the waves. Kindred finds that she will sacrifice almost everything—ship, crew, and a life sailing in the sun—to discover the truth of the darkness that waits below the Forever Sea. Deadly Cross By James Patterson Kay Willingham led a life as glamorous as it was public—she was a gorgeous Georgetown socialite, philanthropist, and the ex-wife of the vice president. So why was she parked in a Bentley convertible idling behind a DC private school, in the

middle of the night, with the man who was the head of that school? Who shot them both, point blank, and why? The shocking double homicide is blazed across the internet, TV, newspapers—and across Alex Cross’s mind. Kay had been his patient once. And maybe more. While John Sampson of DC Metro Police investigates the last movements of Christopher Randall, the educator killed along with Kay Willingham, detective Alex Cross and FBI special agent Ned Mahoney find unanswered questions from Willingham’s past, before she arrived in DC and became known in DC society as someone who could make things happen. They travel to Alabama to investigate Kay’s early years. There they find a world of trouble, corruption, and secrets, all of them closed to outsiders like Cross and Mahoney. Kay had many enemies, but all of them seemed to need her alive. The harder the investigators push, the more resistance they find when they leave behind the polite law offices and doctors’ quarters of the state capital. Bazaine 1870 By Quintin Barry Defeated commanders are frequently blamed for the decisions which they made, sometimes with serious or even fatal consequences. The case of the unfortunate Admiral Bazaine is an example from British naval history. In France in 1870, Marshal Francois-Achille Bazaine, the commander of the French army that surrendered at Metz during the Franco-Prussian war, was held responsible not only for what was alleged to be a breach of military discipline, but also, by many in France, was believed to have been guilty of treason. When the war ended with France’s crushing defeat, national pride demanded a scapegoat, and it was Bazaine who was blamed for just about everything that had gone so very wrong. This book, which is the first book in the English language devoted to the story of Bazaine to be published for three quarters of a century, describes his lengthy and illustrious career before the start of the Franco-Prussian war, and the circumstances in which he came to take command of the Army of the Rhine. It assesses his conduct of the series of pitched battles which he fought around Metz, before he withdrew with his army under the protection of the fortress. The book goes on to describe the subsequent fate of the army, and the negotiations by which Bazaine endeavored to extricate it, as well as his subsequent trial; and concludes that, beyond doubt, he was unjustly accused and wrongly convicted.

USAG Stuttgart salutes its 2020 volunteers of the year

By U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Raymond Arambulo receives a certificate of recognition from the U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Jason Condrey for his volunteer efforts in 2020. Photo by Yvonne Najera

Annjean Petersen receives a certificate of recognition from U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Jason Condrey for his volunteer efforts in 2020. Photo by Yvonne Najera

U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Commander Col. Jason Condrey thanks a community member for her volunteer efforts in 2020. Photo by Yvonne Najera

In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 18-24, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Army Community Services hosted the 2021 Volunteer Recognition Ceremony, Apr. 23, in a different way.

In pre-COVID years, all the community volunteers would gather in the Patch Community Club and receive rounds of applause for the many personal hours they had given to the community; then the dreaded COVID virus infiltrated the community in 2020 and the ceremony was reduced to a virtual name recognition via the garrison commander’s Facebook live town hall. Although COVID has overstayed its welcome in 2021, and has kept our community volunteers from being thanked and showered with applauses from a grateful Stuttgart Community, they were personally thanked and given an elbow bump by the garrison commander albeit it from the driver’s seat of their car as they paraded by a small group of admires in front of the garrison headquarters building. “We wanted our volunteers to know we truly appreciate them, and for them to see and feel that appreciation in a special way,” said Army Volunteer Corp Coordinator, Joy Ashley. “Volunteers have always been the backbone of this community, and they certainly proved that during the trying times of 2020.” Despite the pandemic, volunteers continued to give of themselves to several causes, most notably the Concierge Shopping Program in which volunteer contributions has had a major impact on the wellbeing of quarantined community members. “People across this community have risen to the occasion and gone out to help their neighbors or people they don’t even know, and they did so without hesitation when there was a need,” said U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Commander, Col. Jason Condrey. “This is just a small token of our

appreciation for the incredible contributions they have made to our community during a tough and challenging year.” All volunteers with at least 50 certified hours for calendar year 2020 received a certificate. The Commander’s Award of Excellence was earned by those who volunteered 750 or more hours. Mary and David Jeffcoat have enjoyed volunteering 160 hours through 80 concierge shopping trips. Mary said giving back allows her to feel like a part of something bigger. “Volunteering during a pandemic, for people in quarantine, is new to all of us,” said Jeffcoat. “It meets a basic need for subsistence, and a bigger need for feeling like you matter in your community. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve here.” Volunteers are always needed in the community. If you are interested, please visit https://vmis. to register for an account and search open volunteer positions. The Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS) is also a way to track volunteer hours. For more information please contact Army Community Service by phone 09641-70-596-3362.

Volunteers of the Year winners

Youth: Isabella Berg-Patton Spouse: Zoe Doyle-Kalinowski Military: Dana Wilkins Civilian: Lizette Howard Senior: Deborah Teegan Team: American Red Cross Clinic Volunteer Team Commander’s Volunteer of Excellence Award

Michelle Duckworth Camey McGurk Gabby Nelson Diego Pesantes Helen Prassinos May 2021


Nurses tackle new challenges amid COVID-19 By Becca Castellano U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

In the month of May, nurses are recognized for their contributions in healthcare and to the welfare of society. This year, honoring their dedication is perhaps more important than ever, as the number of nurses lost to the coronavirus surpassed the total number of service members lost during the first World Word, according to the International Council of Nurses.

Despite the risks associated with caring for COVID-19 patients, nurses put themselves in personal danger to treat those suffering from the serious and potentially deadly virus. While the nurses at U.S. Army Health Clinic Stuttgart do not have to work in COVID-19 wards, they still experience the challenges of working in the frontlines of the COVID-19 mission. “It has put a scare and a lot of stress on our team,” said Christopher Spangler, a registered nurse at USAHC Stuttgart. “We learned along with everybody else what [COVID-19] was, but as healthcare providers, we have to learn faster in order to keep our patients and our staff safe.” When the virus first infiltrated U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, many of the healthcare team were exposed to a positive contact. Yolanda Davis, a licensed practical nurse at the clinic, did not get the virus, but she entered quarantined as a precaution. “That was hard on my son and me because for two weeks, we couldn’t have any contact with each other,” she said. “We are very close and hug at least five times a day so I watched how difficult it was on my child.” Despite the risk associated with treating ill patients, Spangler and Davis did not fear coming to work because their leadership established

Christopher Spangler, a registered nurse at U.S. Army Health Clinic Stuttgart, prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Becca Castellano


May 2021

mitigation plans early on to reduce chances of exposure. “Stressful times can cause people to turn on each other and fight and second guess each other, but [leadership] always conveyed that they were in control, and had the reigns, so we were able to step up and support. We’re not going to let each other fail,” said Spangler. “I felt so thankful to be here, doing what I could.” In doing what he could, Spangler and others on his team volunteered beyond their regular shifts to keep the newly opened COVID-19 testing center running seven days a week. He remembers those first few weeks outside during the unpredictable spring weather as long and tedious. “If we needed someone to stay after or come in on a Sunday, we came because we knew it had to be done,” he said. “We volunteered to give up our weekends because we had to meet the mission. That’s what we all signed up for, active duty or civilian, the mission comes first and we believe in that.” Davis, a former active-duty Army nurse, leaned on the Soldier’s Creed for motivation when things got overwhelming. “It states, ‘I will never accept defeat’,” she explained. “Defeat is never an option, we will get to the other side of this, together.” Community support also helped keep the USAHC Stuttgart team going as they took on the responsibility of vaccinating more than 28,000 people. They could not have kept the COVID-19 mission and the clinic’s regular services going without the volunteer nurses who signed up to help through the American Red Cross, said Spangler. The American Red Cross nurses volunteered hundreds of hours since the start of COVID-19. They answered the call knowing there would be no compensation for their time. Spangler was not surprised at their dedication because to be a good nurse, you have to want to help people above all else. “You can have the crappiest of days in this profession,” he explained. “It’s tough when someone dies in front of you. You have to be able to find a silver lining to keep going. Maybe they can save someone else through organ donation or maybe the next patient who walks in, is a victory. It has to be enough to just know you made a difference for a patient today because it can often be a thankless job.” This month, as community members line-up for their COVID-19 vaccination and dream of travel once again, nurses of the Stuttgart military community will don their scrubs and get to work to help make those dreams a reality. With or without a thank you, nurses will be there, because that’s what it means to be a nurse.

Teaching in a pandemic By Becca Castellano U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

Parents around the world received a first hand look inside the life of a teacher when COVID-19 turned classrooms into hazardous areas. As DoDEA schools around Europe locked their doors and sent children home to learn online, parents and teachers worked together to keep kids engaged and motivated to learn.

“I had a really hard time finding a balance between pushing them to focus and letting them just be kids,” said Hazel Statkiewicz, a mother of two elementary students in the Stuttgart DoDEA school system. “But our first grader’s teacher routinely sent us parents emails praising us and encouraging us and reminding us to not get frustrated when our kids were being kids.” Teachers at the elementary school sometimes relied on parents to help students stay focused on the other end of the computer screen, but 11th grade english teacher Amanda Burkman said as a high school teacher, she just needed parents to get kids awake in time for class. “Many parents basically put their hands up because it’s not worth the battle when the whole fam is stuck together 100 percent of the time, and I understood that on a deeply personal level with four kids of my own at home,” she said. Burkman was not a fan of remote learning as a parent, but she disliked it even more as a teacher because what used to take 90 minutes to teach had to be condensed into 30 minute live sessions. She said many students weren’t authentically engaged. “One of the elements of being a teacher that I love the most is bonding with students and creating trusting relationships that allow me to interact on a personal level. Remote teaching eliminated that social aspect of school and was draining on everyone,” she explained. Grace and patience were the “name of the game” for remote learning, and as kids returned to campus, educators had to adopt policies that directly contradicted all the best practices they knew for teaching. “We have had to isolate ourselves and our students and minimize interactions with them,” she said. Most teachers agreed that while the restrictions were not ideal, they were happy to follow them if it meant returning to school and their students, who needed them more than ever. “The covid fatigue, social angst, and academic expectations have taken a more dramatic toll on the mental wellbeing of our students at all levels,” she said. “There have been times where we’re doing a lesson, and suddenly a student just breaks out sobbing, and you have to just take them outside and try to talk to them.” Teachers have become much more compassionate, understanding, and flexible in order to lessen the pressure students are feeling. They are working to plan as

A family of a 2020 Stuttgart High School Senior showed their appreciation for teacher Amanda Burkman for organizing a drive-through graduation ceremony during COVID-19. Photo by Becca Castellano

many “normal” activities for the students as they possibly can. “We try to use our own experiences to show the students that we are here for themwe are looking out for them as people, as students and as young adults,” she said. Burkman said that as a teacher, at least weekly, she expects to receive some hate mail from students and parents, but since COVID-19 she has found more than usual in her inbox. “This year more than ever in my career it has become so easy to get stuck in the negative,” she said. “But over the past year, parents have gone out of their way to be extra kind. They send sweet emails or drop handwritten notes at the school. Some have brought flowers or coffee. It’s never about what they bring, it’s just knowing that someone appreciates you enough to show their thanks.” For Statkiewicz, the patience, understanding and compassion her children’s teachers demonstrated throughout COVID-19 can never be appreciated enough. “Teachers have always been and will always be the most under appreciated beings in this world,” she said. “But if you look at any successful person, there is always that one teacher that pushed them and believed in them.” This May, many will celebrate the DoDEA teachers in Stuttgart with small tokens or kind words, while others send hate mail. But through it all, Burkman and her colleagues will continue to lead the next generation into a world of knowledge and possibilities, with patience and grace. Because that’s what teachers do.


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May 2021


Chaplain’s Corner:

Honor those who are gone by getting to know those still here White crosses mark the graves of fallen American Soldiers in the Luxembourg Cemetery. Photo by Colonel Kleet A. Barclay

Colonel Kleet A. Barclay Command Chaplain U.S. European Command

There have been some challenging curve balls thrown our way since COVID-19 started last year. Many of which are easily recognizable such as the inability to travel, restrictions in public places, and prohibitions on private or public gatherings. However, a common link with all of these is the negative impact on our ability to socialize with others. For introverts like me the diminished social interactions seemed like a blessing at first. But it did not take long to recognize that social interactions are a key part to our day-to-day well-being.

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Robert Putman’s book “Bowling Alone” summarizes numerous studies identifying extensive positive consequences to social interactions. Socially engaged people are physically, emotionally, and mentally healthier and happier than those that are isolated. Thus, as we continue to hear about COVID and “social distancing” it is important to clarify that “social distancing” contains a

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May 2021

heavy emphasis on physical distancing, but does not mean that we should not socially connect with others. We must purposefully find ways to reach out to others, especially in the midst of COVID. This is particularly important for the colleagues, neighbors, and schoolmates that have arrived since the pandemic started or who will soon come to be with us in the Stuttgart area. Along those lines, New York Times columnist David Brooks said: “Many of our society’s great problems flow from people not feeling seen and known. There is a core trait that we all have to get better at, and that is the trait of seeing each other deeply and being deeply seen.” The Apostle Paul said “therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and in Hebrews 10:24-25 it says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together…but encouraging one another.” For many, the ability to reach out and virtually connect with friends and extended family has been a welcome and uplifting respite where families and friendships have grown stronger. Yet, at the same time we must not overlook those that we do not personally know or those that are struggling. There are great things in store for us as we get to know others. Simple questions like: “what have you learned because of COVID?” and “if you could change one thing in this world what would it be?” or “what is one of the biggest highlights of your life?” are great conversation starters. The catchy song “Getting to Know You” from the King and I musical reminds us: “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me,” sums up one of the key joys in life, getting to know others! As we commemorate another Memorial Day, let’s honor those who gave their lives for a way of life that allows us to freely get to know one another. Let’s broaden our understanding of the goodness in others, the sacrifices of others, the challenges they face, and their hopes and dreams. As we step forward to get to know them, they will become another reason among a long list of reasons, to give thanks.

Leaving a Legacy

Master Sgt. Micheal Riley provided additional security for then-Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Kosovo in 2016.

Master Sgt. Micheal Riley deployed to Afghanistan six times.

Photo courtesy of Benny Brand

Photo courtesy of Benny Brand

Memorial Day was designated as a day to remember the sacrifices of those who gave their all in the name of duty. It is a day set aside to mourn their loss and honor their legacy. Too many American service members stationed in Germany have deployed downrange never to return. This Memorial Day, we recognize one who called Stuttgart home long before the Army assigned him to this post. And we remember the legacy he left when he laid down his life for the country he loved.

in the music world. At the age of 15, Mike became the youngest person to enter and win a DJ competition in Stuttgart. His dad said the competition was fierce, but Mike knew how to read a crowd and mixed music like his fingers were made for that purpose. “They didn’t want to let him enter but because he was so young but they allowed him to go last,” said Frank. “He just got up there and did his thing and the crowd went wild.” As his popularity grew, Mike adopted the name DJ Mike Nice, and began performing all over Stuttgart. He pushed his music out through online channels like SoundCloud, and over time built a massive following. With his reputation as a DJ on the rise, another calling was pulling the artist away from his beats. “Mike was always proud to be an American and talked about wanting to join the Army, since he was little,” said Frank. “He once said, ‘Dad I want to be just like you’ and I said, no son, be better than me. I didn’t realize how well he was listening.” in 2006, Mike left Germany and headed off to Army basic training in Georgia. Nine weeks later he graduated as a U.S. Soldier. Those who knew Mike said his transformation was remarkable.

To those who knew Micheal Riley as a Soldier, the tough special forces veteran of six Afghanistan Deployments was a dedicated, driven Sgt. 1st Class who left no man behind. They describe a leader, a mentor and a friend who always had your back and would never let you fail. But to his father, Frank, Mike will always be the little lion, playing on a turn table in the basement of his house. “He liked the Lion King so I always told him, ‘Hey, I’m the head lion, don’t you forget it’,” said Frank. Mike was born in 1986 in Heilbronn, Germany – a small city 30 miles north of Stuttgart – to a German mother, Andrea, and an American father, Frank. Frank came to Germany as a Solider in the 80’s but stayed as a musician and professional singer after his contract was up. He believes Mike’s earliest exposure to music was listening to his father play drums while he was still in the womb. “I never taught him how to play, but we bought him a mickey mouse drum set for his first birthday and one day he just sat down and started playing,” Frank said. “He could sing, but he never did. He preferred the DJ table.” Mike received his first turntable when he was See ‘Leaving a Legacy’ 11 years old, and he immediately found his niche on next page

Graphic by MaHa1/

By Becca Castellano and Rachele Pezzuti U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

Frank Riley holds the Purple Heart medal awarded to his son, Mike, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2019. A Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to those wounded or killed in action while serving. Photo by Becca Castellano

May 2021



2 LEAVING A LEGACY Continued from previous page

The Army sent Mike back to Germany, to serve at the 112th Special Operations Command Europe Signal Detachment in Stuttgart. While living in the barracks on Patch, he met Marine Capt. Michael Harris. “I heard some music down the hall while unpacking and I went and knocked on his door to ask some questions about what he was playing,” said Harris. “As I learned throughout our long friendship, music was always his way of bringing people together.” Mike dedicated his life to service but continued to create music and perform whenever he had the chance. He performed in Bulgaria, Hungary and Germany and even played a private event on a Yacht in France. Harris said that people made sure to come out if they knew DJ Mike Nice was playing, but it was never about the notoriety for Mike, it was about the music and the people it united. “He was that guy,” said Harris. “Driven with a great work ethic. He would play a show all night and then wake me up at 8 a.m. to go work out. He was motivated.” While Mike kept his music career and his life as a Soldier separate, his work ethic led him far in both. He climbed the Army ranks quickly but confessed to his father that he craved something more challenging and hoped to attend the rigorous special forces qualification course. In 2012, Mike achieved his goal of becoming a Green Beret. After graduating from the qualification course in North Carolina, he returned to Stuttgart as a member of the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group and went right back to work promoting his music around Germany. He visited family in Heilbronn often and during one of those trips, Frank reminded his son that he was still the head lion. “I said let’s wrestle and he just looked at me and said ‘Nah, dad, you don’t want to do that’ and I said ‘Oh, you think you’re special now because you’ve had some fancy training? Remember, I’m still the head lion’,” said Frank, who immediately tried to tackle his son. “He put me in one of those headlocks with my arms straight out to the side and I said ‘Mike, you let me go right now or I’m gonna call the cops.’ We laughed so hard, and after that day, I never messed with Mike.”


Mike Riley, also known as DJ Mike Nice, played his music at events throughout Southern Germany, Bulgaria, France and Hungary. Graphic courtesy of Benny Brand


Mike Riley, center, went on tour with his father Frank, left, as a part of the musical group Frank Riley and the Boys. Photo courtesy of Mike Riley


Master Sgt. Micheal Riley gives a thumbs up while deployed to Afghanistan in 2019. Photo courtesy of Benny Brand


May 2021

Mike spent five years with the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, before moving to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group in Colorado in 2017. During this time, he completed five deployments to Afghanistan. “Mike really loved the states,” said Frank. “He bought a house there and was hoping to move his younger sister over from Germany so she could attend college under his watchful, big-brother eyes.” As a senior non-commissioned officer, Mike enjoyed leading young Soldiers and took his responsibility to bringing them home safely very seriously. But the decorated veteran was beginning to consider a life free of combat zones. As he geared up for his sixth deployment to Afghanistan, Mike confided in his father and his best friend, Benny Brand, that he was thinking about starting a family and settling down. “He was seriously considering leaving the Army but he only had seven years left until retirement so it was a tough decision. In just 13 years he had become a Sgt. 1st Class,” said Brand. “To climb the ranks like that shows you how dedicated he was.” As Mike prepped for deployment and contemplated his future, he took leave to visit family

Master Sgt. Micheal Riley looks out over the snowy landscape while riding in a helicopter during a military exercise. Photo courtesy of Benny Brand


“Mike was always proud to be an American and talked about wanting to join the Army, since he was little,” said Frank.

and embark on a three-week DJing tour around Germany. Brand accompanied Mike and said his friend was taking lots of photos and videos with his buddies on tour. “It was like he really wanted us to remember this tour,” said Brand. “And after he deployed, he sent so many videos and photos and kept in touch more than usual.” In January of 2019, Mike’s unit deployed to the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan. For the next six months, he was in and out of contact with family and friends while he completed his sixth and final deployment as a United States Special Forces Soldier. It was a title he was so proud to hold, and one he would give his life for on June 25, 2019 when his team came under enemy fire. “It kind of destroyed everybody when he didn’t come back,” Frank said. “I got the call but they didn’t have to say anything, I already knew, I felt it. That’s how close Mike and I were.” Friends and family said Mike had hoped to bring people together again around his turntables once he returned home. Instead, they came together to honor his legacy. On July 26, 2019, Germans and Americans,

Master Sgt. Micheal Riley looks through his weapon’s scope during a deployment to Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Benny Brand

gathered at the cemetery in Heilbronn to pay their respects to a man who left a giant hole in so many lives. “I saw some of the strongest grown men crying at his funeral. They couldn’t even talk. And that let me know that Mike was loved as a leader,” said Frank. On both sides of the Atlantic, Special Forces units grieved the loss of one of their own and honored Mike with a posthumous promotion to Master Sergeant.

Lasting Legacy After the loss of her son, Andrea started the Green Beret Youth Initiative-St. Louis foundation in Mike’s honor. During his last deployment, Mike had talked about wanting to do something to support the youth in Stuttgart’s sister city of St. Louis, where his father grew up and where some of Mike’s siblings lived. The foundation’s mission is to support and develop leaders of tomorrow by teaching healthy lifestyles and competent behaviors through coached workouts, nutrition education and affordable meal planning. In addition, the foundation works with local schools to support reading programs, alternative learning and tutoring. They also provide a community-based mentorship program to help youth develop and achieve goals, build self-esteem and become resilient. President of the foundation’s board, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Dorsh, served with Mike in Germany and said he was thrilled to work alongside the GBYI team toward such an admirable objective while honoring a true hero and brother. Several other tributes have been made in the Green Beret’s honor including “The Hero Workout” organized by Brand and some of Mike’s former teammates. The workout is held around June 25 every year at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden and at Fort Carson. Every Monday, #MikeNiceMonday pops up all over social media as friends and family share photos and stories to keep his memory alive and in 2020, fellow DJs he toured with finished and released a mixtape with some of Mike’s music worked into their own. But in Heilbronn, where the soldier was born and raised, and where he was laid to rest, his father remembers fondly when his son said ‘Dad, I want to be just like you’ and he replied, ‘no son, be better’.

Master Sgt. Micheal Riley holds up a bluetooth boom box while deployed in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Benny Brand

He believes Mike did that every day of his life. “I was Army, he was special forces. I performed all over, he performs all over and has a ton of followers. That boy succeeded as a Soldier and as a musician, and anything else he put his mind to,” he said. “People come and go so fast, but it makes me happy to know that Mike made the most of his time here doing what he loved. Those are the memories I hold onto.” Frank wears a watch his son left him, that despite the best efforts of a jeweler, still beeps every day at 8 p.m. -- for what he doesn’t know. “It’s the damnedest thing, no one can get it to stop, but I like it,” he said. “It reminds me every day how grateful I am to have shared this life with him. And when I miss him so much that the tears come, I pull myself together and remember all the good he’s done for people, how lucky I am to have known him and, most of all, how proud I am to have been his father. May 2021



"I want to travel to Greece this summer and I want to do my part.” Erin Santos

“I want to be free to go places again.” Samantha Carver

Thousands of U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart community members have #GotTheShot since December.

“I want to be safe.” Bara Miller

“Anything I can do to help protect my family and get us all past COVID-19, I’ll do!” Michael Bush

Here are a few reasons so many are signing up to get the jab.

Photos by Becca Castellano

“I’m pregnant and I thought if it can help, I want to do it.” Sasha Michaud

“I’ve been here six months and I’m ready to see Europe. I’ll go anywhere.” Marla Jazinski 12

May 2021

“It’s better than getting the virus!” Angelo Cuomo

“I’m doping my part for immunity.” Amparo Oyola

“I want to go to Greece!” Tori Wire

“I want more freedom to go without complications and to be safe of course when I do.” Tonya Young

“We got vaccinated for safety reasons. It’s better safe than sorry!” Fusae and Alex Conway

“I want to be able to go back home to England again.” Kim Harper

“I want to travel easier and be able to see family when I return to the States this summer.” Kathryn Cilia

“There’s so many who can’t and I want to be able to help them, and to live life again.” Kyle Sikorski

“TRAVEL. I want to go anywhere but my house this summer!” Tina Blocker

“To travel.” Anee Howard

“I just want to be safe.” Lucas Pinherro

May 2021


Stuttgart’s Birkenkopf, or “rubble hill,” mixes leisure, scenery, history

Story and photos by Bardia Khajenoori U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

In the immediate aftermath of World War II many German cities were left in ruins and drowning in rubble. Extensive Allied bombing had destroyed swathes of urban centers, and when rubble couldn’t be used in rebuilding, one strategy was to accumulate it into a ‘schuttberg,’ or debris hill.

In Berlin, the well-known Teufelsberg (home to a U.S. listening station during the Cold War) is one of several ‘schuttberge,’ and Munich’s Olympic Park houses another.

The rubble from WWII can be seen during your hike to the top of Birkenkopf.

Stuttgart’s most prominent schuttberg is called Birkenkopf, or literally ‘birch head.” The nearly 1,700 foot tall hill is located about halfway between Patch and Robinson Barracks, with more than 53 million cubic feet worth of rubble adding 131 feet to its previous height. The site, a destroyed Nazi antiaircraft battery, was chosen due to existing environmental damage and easy access to the city center through streetcar tracks, according to the Stuttgarter Zeitung. Even though it is the highest point in the city center, it can blend in with the surrounding hills and forests. “I’d probably driven past it so many times before I actually knew what was there,” said Ryann Hangsleben, USO Stuttgart center manager. Hangsleben and the USO highlighted the site in a Facebook video toward the start of the pandemic in 2020 as an example of a possible leisure activity as lockdowns first took hold. “I used to take my dogs out there and walk the hills because it’s an easy hike and very scenic,” said Hangsleben, referring to the panoramic view of the city and region. But here, the ruins aren’t just buried under the ground—they are also stacked up on display at the top. “You can walk through it on both sides. It goes over your head, there’s writing on there, and you can try and identify what parts of a building it might be,” said Hangsleben. The ‘writing’ refers to a plaque affixed to a stone with a message in German: “This hill, after the Second World War, built up from the ruins of the city, stands in memory of the victims and as a warning to the living.”

The view at the top of Birkenkopf is higher and unlike any other natural scenic lookout point in the city, but to get to it, you’ll first pass through some of the rubble which contributes to its considerable height, left exposed for effect. 14

May 2021

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The rubble from WWII can be seen during your hike to the top of Birkenkopf.

Despite a somber tone stemming from its history, the hill is a popular local leisure destination. Its small parking lot, which lies between roads splitting into the directions of Stuttgart-North and Stuttgart-West, is often busy, and it’s also accessible by frequent bus service. It is also popular with picnicking families as much as hikers and bikers; children often enjoy climbing on top of segments of exposed rubble. “We have four boys who are six and under, and there’s so much there… like lion heads on giant rocks,” said Jasmine McGraw. “Even though it’s something historic, we’re not walking through a museum; they enjoy that they can actually touch parts of history.” For many, the site also holds a spiritual dimension. A local pastor erected a cross at the summit of the then-unfinished hill in 1953, and first held an Easter service shortly thereafter; services have been held on a regular basis ever since. McGraw’s family has made visits to the hill a sort of tradition, too. “For us, it’s really a testament to God’s faithfulness, especially during times of trial,” said McGraw, who said she was recommended the site as a children’s activity and wasn’t aware of the large steel cross, which graces the hills summit. Being able to look over the city, recognizing the devastation of the past and the prosperity of the present, offers McGraw hope. “God causes the sunrise over Stuttgart every morning,” she said. “Even in the midst of what seems to be taking forever, for things to get back to normal, that things will be good again.” Astrid Riehle, a pastor quoted in the Stuttgarter Zeitung from her Easter service in April 2021, drew a similar parallel. The hill, with its growth spurred by the piling of rubble, “can be considered a symbol of the resurrection of a city and of life.”

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Home is where you make it to Robinson everyday. She was more than happy to move into her room on Patch because it shortened the drive, This is the final piece in a three part but she was also surprised at the space series highlighting life as a Stuttgart she found waiting for her inside her military community member living on new home. and off post. In this segment, we go “I like having my own space, and behind the scenes of one Soldier’s expe- it doesn’t feel like I’m in a Barracks it riences living in unaccompanied hous- feels like I’m in my own apartment.” ing on Patch Barracks. Mills said. As a non-commissioned officer, or Most single service members E5 and NCO, Mills is entitled to her own room above who receive orders to beautiful which has an en-suite bathroom and Stuttgart likely imagine living off post, enough space for a self-made kitchenette and immersing themselves in the local of spices and cooking supplies. She culture. Many are sorely disappointed uses the kitchen down the hall, which when they arrive and are handed a is shared by the residents on her floor, key to one of more than to cook her meals. 650 beds designated for “There are a lot of unaccompanied housing “I like having people that do use the on post. kitchens here to cook and my own space, For Sgt. Marie Mills, I regularly come home to the move to U.S. Army and it doesn’t some amazing smelling Garrison Stuttgart was being prepared,” she feel like I’m in a food the first time she had to added. face living in barracks Barracks it feels Each floor’s kitchen since her training days has an oven and a place like I’m in my early in her Army career. to sit and eat. And Mills “I always heard all own apartment.” said the easy access to these awful things about the commissary and living in the barracks. shoppette just down the So I was anxious about coming in and road have helped her to avoid orderthere being loudness, but my favorite ing in too much -- a tempting thought thing is how quiet it is here,” Mills because her wife, who is still stateside, said. did most of the cooking before Mills There are twelve unaccompanied moved to Stuttgart. service member buildings in the gar“Living out here on my own, it is rison’s footprint and Mills resides on challenging to come up with my own the second floor of one of four on meals to eat, instead of eating out all Patch Barracks. the time like I could do,” said Mills. She arrived last October and spent “But with the gym so close and being nearly a month and a half in the hotel open 24 hours, I am really working to waiting for a room to open up. During maintain a healthier lifestyle so I cook that time, she was training to become a lot of chicken and fish.” AFN Stuttgart’s new morning show Another perk of the barracks life DJ and had to commute from Panzer for many is the furnishings that come in each room. Mills said having a bed, dressers and a table made the move in process quick and easy. And even though her building was built in the 1940’s, she said it feels up-to-date with new flooring, windows and lighting. Each barracks block has a gazebo outside, providing a place for residents to grill and socialize during non-COVID times. Mills said residents are often hanging out outside the building and they have been very friendly and welcoming. “You might feel like you don’t know any of these people, but they’re always like ‘hey come on down, hang out, here’s some food’, so that’s always pretty cool,” she added. COVID has had an impact on the Story and photos by Paul Hughes U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart



May 2021




Sgt. Marie Mills, AFN Stuttgart Radio NCOIC and morning show presenter, poses outside of her barrack building on Patch Barracks, April 27.


The shared communal kitchen in the barracks of Sgt. Marie Mills.


Sgt. Marie Mills, eats some leftovers on the couch in a kitchenette area she designated in her barracks room, containing a fridge, microwave and spice station on Patch barracks.


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Sgt. Marie Mills, relaxes in her barracks room on Patch Barracks.

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amount of services and facilities available to unaccompanied soldiers, with many services including bars and the movie theater on post being closed. Mills said the lack of movies has been the toughest for her but she is hopeful that things might reopen before she moves. The geobachelor is excited to reunite with her wife once she arrives in the near-future and they hope to settle into an apartment on Robinson Barracks. But even with the promise of more space, her own kitchen and her family back together, there are a few things the Soldier will miss about her room on Patch. “It still is the nicest barracks room I’ve ever been in and I like having my own space,” she said. “As far as barrack buildings go, this is the best one I’ve ever seen.”



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May 2021


1 A “colorful” city: Cultural diversity in Stuttgart By Bardia Khajenoori U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

It’s common knowledge that Stuttgart is one of the largest cities in Germany, but it sometimes escapes attention that it’s also one of its most diverse.

More than 40% of its residents have immigrated in the last fifty years or have at least one non-German parent, according to German census records. Only Frankfurt bests the Baden-Wür ttemberg capital in diversity. Approximately 170 nations are represented, according to Rolf Graser, executive director of the


A panoramic view of the Sommerfest der Kulturen

Photo by Michael Haussmann


A Bulgarian grocery store in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt



Photo by Bardia Khajenoori


Colombian soccer fans crowd a biergarten in Stuttgart to watch a match of the 2018 World Cup Photo by Bardia Khajenoori


A Persian restaurant sits next to a sushi bar in downtown Stuttgart Photo by Bardia Khajenoori


Forum der Kulturen Stuttgart e. V., an umbrella organization of over 100 migrant cultural associations and intercultural institutions from Stuttgart and the surrounding area. The many celebrations in the city throughout a typical year reflect this, with events ranging from the “Africa Festival” and “Indian Film Festival” to the “Latin American Weekend.” The centerpiece of the cultural festival circuit, and the largest intercultural festival in all of southern Germany, is the annual Sommerfestival der Kulturen, or Summer Festival of Cultures, organized by the Forum der Kulturen. The six-day event, which normally takes place on Stuttgart’s Marktplatz, draws thousands of visitors and offers live entertainment, shopping, and limitless food options with 70 clubs taking turns staffing 30 food stalls around the square. Kyla Sikorski and her family stumbled upon the festival three years ago as they were exploring the city. “It was just a hoppin’ place, more packed than even the Christmas markets we had been to [at Marktplatz],” said Sikorski. “There were so many different booths of different cultures and ethnicities, and all kinds of food.” They came away with food and drink from at least seven different countries and handwoven baskets from an African vendor. “Everybody brings something new and different to the table,” added Sikorki’s husband, Tim. And that’s exactly the point, according to Graser. While there are many examples of Stuttgart’s diversity, from the languages heard on Koenigstrasse, to the restaurant scene and cultural offerings, an arguably more significant outcome from diversity is that people learn to see things from different points of view, he said.

May 2021

“The best way to learn that is to be with people from other backgrounds, with people who have other perspectives, other ways of thinking, other life experiences, and other biographies. That all leads to being able to do things a little bit more differently,” said Graser. Graser went on to note a distinction between an “international” scene (describing a city like Frankfurt, which draws immigrants or expatriates for shorter, typically job-related periods of only a couple years) and an “intercultural” one which has developed over time and is more the product of people settling down. Stuttgart is a great example of the latter, he said. “We’re talking mainly about people who have been living here for 50 or 60 years,” said Graser. While they may have “roots” in the countries of their parents or grandparents, “they are fully Stuttgarters.” But how did Stuttgart’s diversity come to be? Immigration from other nations began in earnest in the early 1800s with the founding of the Kingdom of Württemberg, and increased noticeably during the first wave of industrialization, said Edith Neumann, head of the collection at the Stuttgart city museum (StadtPalais). Neumann said at first textile, chemical and book printers came to Stuttgart, but by the end of the century mechanical engineering became the dominant industry. After World War I that mechanical engineering base became a thriving automotive industry. Quickly the demand for labor outgrew the domestic supply. “To compensate for the shortage of labor, the Federal Republic of Germany [then West Germany] concluded so-called ‘recruitment agreements’ with various European countries starting in the 1950s,” said Neumann. “The first agreement was concluded with Italy, quickly followed by other countries.” The postwar American presence in the area also made some notable contributions to the area’s culture. Young G.I. 's brought with them American fashion and music, and the U.S. government founded so-called "youth houses" (jugendhäusern) – places Neumann said that not only provided an opportunity for recreation, but a place that taught young Germans democratic norms. Today, Turks are top of the list of citizens of foreign countries registered in Stuttgart, followed by Croats, Italians, and Greeks. Diversity contributes to city life by shaping it in many ways, said Neumann, from the range of goods available in stores to the spectrum of music and events. Overall, “the different ways of seeing and behaving in a culturally diverse society contribute a great deal to people’s open interaction and togetherness in everyday life,” she said.


The Big Question: Who do you remember on Memorial Day? For many American’s Memorial Day is associated with barbecues, camping trips and family gatherings. But for those affiliated with the military, the true meaning of Memorial Day will never be forgotten. This year, on May 31, Americans around the globe will set aside the day to remember the sacrifices of those who left home to serve and did not return. As we mourn their loss, we pay tribute to the legacies they left behind.

For this month’s Big Question, we at the Stuttgart Citizen asked: Who do you remember on Memorial Day? And we ask our readers to take a moment on May 31, to remember these names, who paid the ultimate price so that we may be free.

For Memorial Day, I am honoring my cousin,

1st Lt. Robert A. Seidel III who was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq on May 18, 2006. Emily Ann

Pfc. Justin Casillas and Pfc. Aaron Fairbairn. I was one of their I remember

medics. I sent them home. They mean a lot to me. Graphic by Magi Bagi/

Steven Kisiah

This is my father, George Thomas Mitchell. He fought in WWII over here in Germany. He is the person I remember and honor on Memorial Day. Glenn Mitchell

Navy Lt. Nathan White was an F-18 pilot who was shot down by friendly fire over Iraq on April 2, 2003. He left behind a wife and three young children. Lt. White served his country well and will always be honored and remembered by those who knew him. Janene Heap Creer

May 2021