You can take me out of Schweinfurt, but you can’t take the Schweinfurt out of me! Hello Schweinfurt, my name is Knut Ogaard and I am the Closure Team Leader at USAG Ansbach. I used to work in Schweinfurt for many years, and in some ways, I still work there. At least, that’s where my heart is.
So when people ask me, ‘Hey Knut, what’s gonna happen to all of our military artifacts and monuments in Schweinfurt,’ I take the questions very seriously.
Currently, I’m the guy who’s making sure all of USAG Schweinfurt’s monuments and historical military vehicle displays are preserved and reach their final destination.
The monuments and historical vehicles have significant meaning to a lot of people, me included. That’s why we’re making every effort to ensure they’re not left behind.
First, the military vehicle displays. These vehicles belong to the American people, so aren’t just going to be thrown away. Interesting fact: The vehicles such as the parked tanks you see on Conn and Ledward Barracks do not actually belong to the garrison. Nor do they belong to those tenant units headquartered next to them. In fact, these historical vehicles actually fall under the custodial responsibility of the historical artifacts office with U.S. Army-Europe, which manages a master list of all the U.S. Army historical vehicles in Europe.
It’s important that we preserve these vehicles and not let them, say, become hard targets at a firing range like the one in Grafenwoehr. We’re working with the USAREUR historian to get them refurbished, preserved and moved to a new home. The USAREUR historian, working with both the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. and Tank Automotive Command in Michigan, will determine where there is a need and will fill that need with Schweinfurt’s vehicles.
A few years ago, for example, USAG Schweinfurt had an extra historical anti-tank gun on display. So, we coordinated with the USAREUR historical office and that gun is now on display at the USAREUR headquarters.
And if the USAREUR historical office needs help finding a home for these vehicles, we have museums in Germany that have also expressed interest.
And what about the monuments? Each of the monuments at USAG Schweinfurt was paid for and preserved by each respective unit. We are working with the units to assist them with moving the monuments wherever they go.
Example: In 2008, the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (known as the Dagger Brigade) reflagged itself as the 172nd Infantry Brigade. Therefore, we had to find a new home for the brigade’s monument. So, we coordinated to have a contractor crate the Dagger Brigade monument and ship it to Fort Riley, Kansas where the 1st Infantry Division currently resides.
For those units that are re-stationing, their respective monuments will go where they go.
But, you may ask, what about the monuments belonging to battalions with the 172nd Infantry Brigade, which is deactivating by the summer of 2013? My job now is to determine where they will go. These monuments, for the time being, are in a to-be-determined status. We’re working with USAREUR and other top brass officials to find out where we can place these very significant and meaningful monuments. It’s a complex, bureaucratic process…but one that’s well worth the effort.
Bottom line is this: The historical vehicles and especially the monuments carry a lot of meaning to a lot of people. They need to be preserved. We will move them somewhere. They will not be left behind.
Knut Ogaard was born in Gjovik, Norway before immigrating to the U.S. He retired from the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 2 and has worked as an Army civilian for 25 years. Prior to his current job in Ansbach, Mr. Ogaard worked as the master planner for the USAG Schweinfurt Directorate of Public Works. For photos of USAG Schweinfurt memorials and historic vehicles, click here.