Sounds of sizzling bratwurst, traditional German music and “Prost!” greeted guests as they arrived at the German Liaison Team at Fort Bragg’s annual Oktoberfest event, Saturday.
The 824th Quartermaster Parachute Rigging Hall resembled a German beer hall after members of the GLT spent hours decorating it for an authentic feel. Lt. Col. Frank Hoelzner, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command German liaison officer, explained the significance of the yearly celebration.
“It’s one of the rare opportunities where the German military forces can give something back to their most important partner, the United States of America,” he said. “Every kind of support we request, military-wise and socially-wise is supported by the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps and USASOC.”
According the Hoelzner, Oktoberfest wouldn’t be possible without his American comrades volunteering to set up before and helping out during the event.
“This is a mirror image of a situation we really find in the field,” he said. “When we go for the fight, we need the support. We get the resources and we get the support from the United States.”
This year’s event was the largest in its 15-year history, drawing over 400 guests from across Fort Bragg and the surrounding communities.
Josiah Baker, a professor at Methodist University and friend of Fort Bragg, said he enjoys coming to the celebration every year with his Family.
“It’s relaxing and a chance for everyone to have a good time,” he explained.
Other attendees also appreciate the entertaining atmosphere of the event. Dave Paddock, USASOC, is also a repeat guest at Fort Bragg’s Oktoberfest. He said his favorite aspect of the festival is having fun with his Family and getting the merriment started. Three years ago, Pollack was asked to help tap the ceremonial first keg of Oktoberfest.
“It was a big surprise to me and a huge honor,” he said. “It has become a little bit of a tradition that I introduce the person doing it and assist in doing it. It was probably one of the biggest honors a German has ever bestowed upon me.”
This year, Col. Robert A. Warburg tapped the first keg of Fort Bragg’s Oktoberfest to kick off the celebration. After the keg tapping and demonstration on the proper methods to eat traditional weisswurst, festival goers enjoyed a plethora of German food, including bratwurst, wurstsalat, sauerkraut and more.
The festivities stretched into the early morning hours as Families danced to tunes from the German Air Force Band, which was flown in from Germany for the celebration.