FORT BLISS, Texas – The opportunity to attend a free Oktoberfest is not one afforded to many people in a lifetime. However, for the soldiers at the Warrior Transition Battalion, an Oktoberfest came to them, Sept. 11, 2012, hosted by the German Air Force Defense Center. The open foyer at the WTB provided room to service more than 350 wounded warriors and their families to unite as well as build strong ties with the community, lasting memories, and lifelong traditions.
First Sgt. Nancy Hernandez, cadre at the Bravo Company WTB, mentioned that the festival was held to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere for the warriors in transition – as many soldiers have profiles that limit their travel.
Once a year for one month, many people in the world celebrate Oktoberfest to build unity in their community. Oktoberfest originated in 1810 when the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig wed the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Thereseis and began a traditional German folk festival. A traditionally themed Oktoberfest has rides, German foods, regional alcoholic beverages and Oktoberfest collectables.
The open festival here included two large bouncing houses, face painting, regional folk dances, authentic Bavarian performances, live German brass band, and free bratwurst in a brochen bread-roll. A raffle drawing awarded wounded warriors with gift cards and tickets to the weekend Oktoberfest here.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel L. Beaty, a combat engineer working as cadre for the Bravo Company WTB, said it was great to see the foreign soldiers show support for the troops in the Fort Bliss community, because the warriors in transition have sacrificed a lot for their country. Beaty, a native of Paul Mall, Tenn., has worked with the WTB for more than two years and continues to support the soldiers transition into the community as a veteran or transition back into the fight. Like many U.S. soldiers, Beaty has traveled abroad to Germany, and his connection to the German culture comes from traveling in Europe and attending a traditional Oktoberfest.
The D’Waldbergler performed a traditional dance called the Goasslschnoizen or whip-cracking. The unique Bavarian team is from Rosshaupten, Bavaria, whose title translates in English: D' forest mountain people. Today, the Goasslschnoizen (Whipsnappers) perform concerts with bands that include conventional musical instruments. Hearing the whips create a striking sound pattern is an authentic Bavarian treat. The art of cracking whips derives from cattle herding among the Germanic people of Bavaria; and today it is practiced as sport or artistic performance.
The WTB cadre pointed out the familiar face of Dorthea Morgan, a staff member of the Soldier Family Assistant Center at the WTB, during a traditional German toe-slapping dance with The Schuhplattler group. Dorthea and her husband Staff Sgt. Mathew M. Morgan, a petroleum supply non-commissioned officer with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, helped perform the themed dances: Haushammer Dance (Hammer House), Holzhacker Dance (Wood Chopper), and Watschenplattler Dance (Face Slapper). Mathew, a Houston, Texas native, and his wife Morgan are beginners to the Schuhplattler dancing and joined the group to honor Morgan’s German heritage.
“Oktoberfest provides the opportunity for a fun family event and lifts morale,” said Morgan. “The event gives the wounded warriors the chance to experience a part of the German culture and to familiarize them with the German Air Force at Fort Bliss.”