Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

October 21, 2017 at 6:53am



A free presentation by the Lakewood Historical Society.

7:00 pm, Tuesday October 24.

Andrew Fritz, instructor of Environmental Sciences at Clover Park Technical College, will demonstrate with slides and commentary how various organizations are restoring the prairies and oak savannahs that once flourished throughout the South Puget Sound region.

Join us for free refreshments and a fascinating presentation at the NEW location for our programs—the Best Western Motor Inn Meeting Room, 6125 Motor Ave SW in Lakewood.

October 19, 2017 at 3:10pm

1st SFG (Airborne) reach out to young athletes

Sgt. Patrick Rogers, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), shows the children one of the tactical vehicles that Special Forces uses for missions around the world. Photo credit: Sgt. Brandon Welsh

The St. Francis Cabrini school cross-country team in Lakewood met with the paratroopers on the 1st SFG (A) compound at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Oct. 11, for the modified Army training experience.

The event was organized to provide the student athletes with a memorable experience and build the relationship with the partnering community.

"Community is an integral part of our identity and the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) community is the strongest military community you'll find," said Capt. Jessica Kent, the GSB, 1st SFG (A), assistant operations officer. "Part of what makes our community thrive is our ability to foster relationships outside the base."

The athletes, ranging in age from 6 to 13 years old, began with a luncheon in the Gold Star Family room at the unit's Regimental Mess Facility. The RMF doubles as a 1st SFG (A) museum with a variety of historical displays to include a memorial wall honoring the legacy of its fallen soldiers.

After finishing their lunch and learning about honor and sacrifice, the students assembled in a traditional Army formation and sang cadence while marching to the training area where the team-building exercises commenced.

The soldiers set up four different stations designed to foster teamwork and encourage communication.

In a modified relay race, the students worked together pulling a stretcher simulating a medical evacuation where the athletes had to drag one of their teammates through the pit to the other side.

Other events included a water jug relay where students darted back and forth while wrangling awkward jugs of water, and a low-crawl, where the team slithered below simulated barbed wire.

The last event allowed the students to play paratrooper and don the MC-6 parachute rig with reserve parachute. The combined harness, main and reserve parachutes often outweighed many of the students.

"It felt as heavy as my backpack from school last year," said one of the children.

Kent was pleased with the participation and excited about building an enduring community partnership.

"We're excited to have the opportunity to reach out to such an incredible group of children and continue fostering our community relationships," said Kent.

October 19, 2017 at 10:48am

Army increases transition efforts in soldier careers

Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr. discusses NCO professional development at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 10. Photo credit: Sean Kimmons

The Army's NCO Professional Development System will soon have a new line of effort to better prepare soldiers once they decide to leave the service, senior leaders announced Tuesday.

The system, which is an overhaul of the NCO Education System that began in 1973, now plans to push a greater emphasis on transition services to help soldiers map out life after the Army.

"What we're trying to do is ... reinforce to soldiers and their chains of command that there are certain requirements that soldiers must do in order to transition properly," said Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr., the top enlisted advisor for Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Career maps for soldiers currently follow five lines of effort: military life cycle, military and civilian education, broadening assignments/experience, credentialing and joint professional military education. Progress and requirements of those efforts can be found under the Army Career Tracker, or ACT, at

Davenport likens ACT to a course catalog for soldiers to plan out their career -- from what Army job they should do, what military school they should attend to broadening opportunities they should take.

Starting this month, soldiers will see a line of effort for transition in their career maps. "If they make the decision that they're going to (separate)," he said, "then what do they need to do to transition themselves and their families?"

TRADOC has partnered with Installation Management Command to help guide soldiers to the necessary resources.

Davenport said the initiative will not only be for younger soldiers but also for career soldiers, like him, who will eventually transition to the civilian world.

"I'm going to retire after over 30 years," he said after an NCO professional development forum at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. "There are things I need to do in order to plan my transition."

The move supports Soldier for Life, an Army priority to set up soldiers for success outside the military.

"If you transition them the right way," Davenport said, "the more committed they are to be advocates and spokespeople for what we do in the Army."

Army University is also developing a "universal" transcript to better tie in military education to civilian academic degrees. Universities outside the Army can sometimes struggle to find academic credit for military training. The new transcript attempts to make that process easier.

"What we're trying to do is clean all that up," Davenport said, "so when that soldier transitions and they go to an academic university, it's clearer what they did while they served our great country."

A pilot to test the transcript is being planned for the Army Armor School at Fort Benning, Georgia, he added.

Work is also underway to offer more credentialing opportunities to soldiers, which leaders believe would improve readiness and give soldiers better odds at employment in the civilian sector.

There are about 28,000 credentials completed by soldiers each year through efforts done by TRADOC and other major commands. That's a small number, according to Joe Parson, who works for Army University's special programs division.

"About 40 percent of our soldiers are combat arms, who don't have a credential directly aligned with them," he said at the forum.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of over 11,000 certifications or licenses. Of that, the Army has identified about 1,600 that line up with military occupational specialties and additional skill identifiers, he said.

"Those credentialing programs authorized by the Army will be opened up to every soldier," he said, adding they will be available on Army Credentialing Opportunities On-Line at

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey and others are working to have the Army be allowed to use tuition assistance for credentialing. Current legislation, however, prevents soldiers from using tuition assistance for credentials that do not fall under a nationally or regionally accredited school.

"Some of those things will have to be updated," Dailey said of the legislation. "We're moving forward, but it is very complex."

A working group plans to put together a pilot program to test the credentialing program, he said. Army officials have also reached out to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in hopes of creating a Defense Department-wide credentialing program.

Credentialing must benefit both the Army and soldiers, who won't be allowed to pursue just any credential they wish, Parson said.

For example, soldiers likely won't be able to go for a credential to become a real estate agent, but they could be trained to be a plumber, welder, physical fitness trainer or even an instructor for small arms training.

With 17 percent of the U.S. population having one or more credentials, Parson said, he wants soldiers to someday be part of that workforce.

"We don't want our seasoned soldiers to be unemployed," he said, "because every one of them was a valued member of our team and we want them to be a valued member of society as well."

October 19, 2017 at 10:11am

Carrying wounded by drone

Army’s TATRC are using the DP-14 “Heavy Fuel Tandem Helicopter” as a test bed to develop the concepts to provide medical supply delivery and medical evacuation capabilities using an unmanned aerial system. Photo credit: C. Todd Lopez

Although a fully-equipped medical evacuation aircraft with a trained crew and pilot will likely always be the best option to get a wounded soldier off the battlefield, the Army is looking at unmanned aerial systems as a possible "plan B" for when that ideal isn't possible.

"There's really a lot of opportunity to be gained if we learn how to leverage these unmanned systems for medical missions, as a tool to augment our existing medical assets," said Nathan Fisher, an engineer with the Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Fisher was available Oct. 10 during the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition. On the display floor of the convention center, where hardware from hundreds of defense contractors was being showcased, he discussed research he and others are involved in that may one day make it possible to deliver medical supplies to the battlefield by UAS, and to also send that UAS back to base with a wounded soldier tucked away safely inside.


During last year's AUSA exposition, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley laid out a nearly apocalyptic vision of what soldiers would face on battlefields of the future.

Milley told soldiers they should plan on being miserable, that access to supplies would be limited, and that they should expect lines of communication between themselves and those in the rear to be nearly non-existent. When those lines of communication open, a robotic supply convoy might end up being "the only acceptable method of supply that we can get to forward troops."

It's that kind of environment that Fisher and fellow researchers at TATRC are developing solutions for today.

"In situations where we're up against a near-peer type adversary in a complex environment, like in a megacity for example -- we're tasked to support these dispersed units from a medical perspective," Fisher said. "It boils down to a situation where air superiority is not something that we can assume. At least not for an extended period of time. So how do we support these units from a medical perspective?"

Two types of support in particular are of concern to Fisher. First, how to get medical supplies out to the field if no aircraft or crew are available, or if the flying conditions won't permit it. Second, how to get wounded soldiers from the field back to treatment facilities in the rear, without using manned aircraft.

To help the Army one day provide both of those kinds of support, TATRC is making use of a UAS called the DP-14 "Heavy Fuel Tandem Helicopter" as a platform to test concepts and work out the issues associated with unmanned resupply and unmanned medical evacuation.

Fisher said the dual-rotor DP-14 was chosen as a testbed because, among other things, it can carry a 450-pound payload, it has a small footprint, and it can do vertical take-off and landing. All make it ideal to deliver goods, or retrieve injured soldiers from just about anywhere.


The Army has yet to fly a human inside its DP-14, and may actually never do that, Fisher said. Right now, it's not permissible to fly persons inside unmanned systems, at least not in the U.S.

One of the things TATRC is working on now, Fisher said, is instrumenting the DP-14 to determine what conditions might be like inside the UAS if a patient were to actually ride inside it. What they want to discover, he said, is if a UAS like the DP-14 can be built to support human life while in the air.

Using a system he called the "Environmental Factors Data Acquisition System," they are measuring factors like shock, vibration, noise, temperature, pressure, acceleration and pitch of the aircraft. All are factors that affect how safe it will be to put a person inside. He said a similar test will be done on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, which is already used to do medical evacuations, to establish a baseline for what is permissible.

Then, he said, they will "really start determining, in a quantitative way, what's the difference in exposure levels," and then look for ways to mitigate the difference.

Fisher also said that putting a patient inside a UAS will require some form of patient-support system be available, and that system will need to transmit patient data to caregivers on the ground. Developing those systems, or configuring existing systems for life aboard a UAS is also part of their project.


Another issue associated with using a UAS for casualty evacuation -- or even for supply delivery -- is ensuring that its operation doesn't become a burden on the Army medics who are most likely to be its primary users.

"Kind of the general problem that we run into is that you have a combat medic out there in the field providing care," Fisher said. "And they are really focused on the patient and they need to remain focused on the patient, both cognitively and with the use of their hands. How do you introduce technology in that environment without diverting attention away from providing care?"

The UAS must be truly autonomous, Fisher said, such that the medic only interacts with them in a kind of "supervisory role."

"What's the field interface with the medic, and how do they interact with the vehicle?" Fisher asked. "And how do we provide them with situational awareness, and a limited amount of command and control, just to do that high-level interaction?"

Fisher suggested that the kinds of interaction a medic might need to have with the UAS would be limited to something as simple as providing an indicator that it's safe for the UAS to land, versus waving it off.

When it comes to casualty evacuation, Fisher said, "The ideal scenario is that you have a medevac platform in there with a dedicated medical crew that can take care of a patient while flying en route. That's always plan A."

But if it's not possible to get a medevac crew to a location, Fisher said, then a UAS may end up one day being the solution.

"I like to call it a plan B," he said. "It's a situation where you can't get a medevac there in time, or there's no medevac assets available due to the threat situation or due to the fact that they are just at capacity."

October 18, 2017 at 2:09pm

What to Know When Moving From an Apartment to a House

Buying your first home is an exciting event! If you’ve been renting an apartment for years, there are a few things you should know when you make the transition to homeownership. Be sure to keep these simple facts and tips in mind as you embark on this next chapter in your life.

Performing general maintenance
When you buy a brand-new home, it’s not likely you will be making huge repairs or renovating on the weekends, but there are still maintenance tasks you will need to perform to keep your new home in tip-top shape. Changing the furnace filter, blowing out the sprinkler system in the fall and shoveling snow from the walkways will now fall to you instead of your landlord.

Make sure you do your research and have the proper tools ready. Depending on the size of your yard, you may need to take a trip to your local home improvement store for a lawn mower and basic gardening tools. If you purchase from Richmond American, a construction superintendent will walk you through your finished home to go over basic maintenance information. This is the perfect time to ask questions so you know how to properly care for your home.

Buying key furniture pieces
Although you may be excited and thinking about decorating your new home, making major furniture purchases during the loan process can affect the outcome of your mortgage loan application. According to our affiliate, HomeAmerican Mortgage Corporation, mortgage lenders consider you as less of a risk if you have cash reserves available after closing to cover any additional expenses or emergencies that might arise. Wait until after you have closed on your new home to make major purchases, or increase your credit card balances if necessary.

Don’t forget the window coverings!
Whether choosing a new or resale home, make sure you’ve accounted for window coverings in your budget. The last thing you need is to be tacking up sheets on the first night in your new living space! When you purchase from Richmond American, you may have the option of having window treatments installed before you move in. Just ask your design consultant at the Home Gallery™ for details.

Cut down on energy consumption
If you’ve been renting, you may not have paid much attention to your energy bill. Either it was paid for or shared walls made your consumption hard to control. When you purchase a single-family home, keeping your energy consumption low is in your hands. Closing blinds during the day, opting for an energy-saving washer and dryer and programming your thermostat for a different temperature when you are typically away from the house can go a long way toward keeping costs at a minimum.

Ready to transition from a rental to your own home? Get started today at


October 13, 2017 at 6:27am

502nd MI Bn. wins Commander’s Cup Flag Football Championship

502nd MI Bn. teammates celebrate after winning the JBLM Commander’s Cup Flag Football Championship at the Lewis North Athletic Complex Oct. 5. 502nd MI Bn. defeated 627th CS 39-27. JBLM PAO photo

Clark Jones Jr. of 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade came prepared for the 2017 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Commander’s Cup Flag Football Championship Oct. 5 at the Lewis North Athletic Complex, leading the offense with 335 passing yards and six touchdowns to help the 502nd MI Bn. earn the 39-27 win over the 627th Communications Squadron.

Winning at the JBLM Commander’s Cup title game is nothing new for Jones, who was the winning quarterback in 2016. Having back-to-back championships is a big statement not only for Jones, but the entire team and the talent they have, he said.

“I just scrambled around to break defenses down,” Jones said. “(Our receivers) used a lot of football awareness to find the open lanes.”

Jones was able to use his legs to lengthen plays and drives, which led to successful touchdown drives throughout the game. In the team’s first drive, Jones was able to find Breon Matlock, who was able to juke two defenders from two yards from the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.

On the next drive, Jones scrambled long enough for Michael Fogt to be completely open in the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown reception. Although Fogt noted that having a mobile quarterback opens up opportunities, it’s important to keep an eye on him and the defense during the play, he said.

“Whichever way he rolls out, you try to follow and get your arms up so he can see you,” Fogt said, who finished the game with seven receptions, 107 yards and two touchdowns.

The 627th CS held its own through a majority of the game, despite some struggles in the team’s opening drive after losing nine yards to a false start and a sack of quarterback Simon Diaz led to a punt.

Diaz answered the 502nd MI Bn.’s first drive with a pass play to Joe Shay for 50 yards to set up a 1-yard option toss touchdown to Shay. Just before the first half ended, he made another 22-yard pass to Shay, followed by a 28-yard touchdown to Erik Skinner — one of two touchdowns.

Both teams were neck and neck midway through the second half. Diaz completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to

Juwaun Eaddy with 6:39 left in regulation — a two-point conversion from 5 yards out tied the game at 27.

The 502nd MI Bn. answered with a quick, three-play drive that saw Jones complete a 55-yard touchdown pass to Darius Holmes to go ahead 33-27 after a failed PAT. The 627th CS was unable to advance the ball after a first down, with four consecutive incomplete passes by Diaz to turn the ball over on downs with two minutes left in the game.

“After that, we felt it was essentially over,” Shay said. “Not much you can do against that pretty good offense.”

The 502nd MI Bn. responded with a four-play drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Jones to make it 39-27. Diaz threw four consecutive incomplete passes again to turn the ball over on downs, allowing the 502nd MI Bn. to run out the clock.

Although he said second place doesn’t feel too great, Shay said he was proud of his team’s effort through the season. He also thought the season concluded in proper fashion.

“I feel it was what a base championship should be: Army vs. Air Force,” Shay said.

October 12, 2017 at 11:53am

Army rolls out latest Abrams Battle Tank

The Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 is a great step forward in reliability, sustainability, protection, and onboard power -- positioning the Abrams tank and the Army’s ABCTs for the future. Photo credit: U.S. Army

On Wednesday, Oct. 4, members of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center workforce celebrated the delivery of the next iteration of the iconic Abrams Main Battle Tank as the Army accepted the first of six M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 initial production vehicles.

Production for the M1A2 SEPv3 is being conducted at JSMC in Lima, Ohio, and at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama.

"This version is the most modernized configuration of the Abrams tank, having improved force protection and system survivability enhancements and increased lethality over the M1A1 and previous M1A2 variants," said Lt. Col. Justin Shell, the Army's product manager for Abrams. "The Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tank will be the foundation for future incremental system upgrades and can host any mature technology the Army deems operationally relevant."

"The Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 is the first in a series of new or significantly improved vehicles that we will be delivering to the Army's ABCTs," said Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems. "It is a great step forward in reliability, sustainability, protection, and on-board power which positions the Abrams tank and our ABCTs for the future. Even in a fiscal environment that has greatly hampered our ability to move towards entirely new vehicles, the Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 shows we can still deliver meaningful and operationally relevant improvements."

The SEPv3 will replace the M1A2 SEPv2 which has been in production since 2005. In 2011, the Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems was directed by the Army to execute Engineering Change Proposals to restore lost capability and allow the capacity for the insertion of new technologies.

The M1A2 SEPv3 improvements include:

  • Joint Tactical Radio System: Integration of the Government Furnished Equipment Joint Tactical Radio System Handheld, Manpack, and Small Form Fit radio to support the need to establish network readiness and maintain battle command and communications interoperability with future Brigade Combat Teams.
  • Power Generation and Distribution: Aspects include Improved Amperage Alternator, Slip Ring, Enhanced Hull Power Distribution Unit/Common Remote Switching Modules, and the Battery Monitoring System. These technologies address the power demand growth potential and the need for dissemination of critical information.
  • Line Replaceable Unit/Line Replaceable Modules Redesign: Migration of current force Abrams platforms to a two-level maintenance scheme can be initiated through the implementation of Line Replaceable Module technology.
  • Counter Remote Control Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare V3: Counter Remote Control Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare/Duke V3 is the latest version from PM CREW.
  • Ammunition Data Link: The ADL is required to program the M829A4 Advanced Kinetic Energy and Advanced Multi-Purpose rounds.
  • Auxiliary Power Unit: The under armor APU provides capability to operate on-board systems with a reduced probability of detection during silent watch operations.
  • Armor Upgrades: The Abrams Tank will continue to advance its ballistic protection to counter the latest threats and maintain battlefield superiority.

"These vehicles are not just about assuring our allies, or deterring or coercing potential adversaries," added Bassett. "They are about compelling our enemies and winning the multi-domain battle."

October 12, 2017 at 11:40am

Medics test their limits

Capt. Stephanie Germeroth finishes a 12-mile foot march Sept. 28, the final event of nearly two weeks of testing for the Expert Field Medical Badge qualification. Photo credit: Capt. Cain S. Claxton

Mentally, physically and emotionally grueling. That's how candidates described 12 days of testing for the Army's Expert Field Medical Badge, which ended Sept. 28 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Only about 10 percent of the Army's medical community has earned the badge, according to Maj. Erica Kane, 56th Multi-functional Medical Battalion Brigade executive officer. Kane organized the EFMB event for the 62nd Medical Brigade at JBLM.

"This is an opportunity for soldiers within the Army medical department to demonstrate their ‘extra mile' toward being committed to their profession," Kane said.

That "extra mile" included evaluations of 42 hands-on tasks, land navigation, a 60-question written test, and ended with a 12-mile foot march.

"It is quite a grueling (evaluation) and it requires a significant amount of intestinal fortitude, physical strength and mental acuity to make it through all those tasks," Kane said.

More than 200 candidates from JBLM and other parts of the western United States began testing Sept. 16. Only 29 soldiers made it to the final event, the 12-mile foot march, which began at 5 a.m., Sept. 28, along East Gate Road and ended at Cowan Stadium three hours later. Twenty-six soldiers finished in time, earning the coveted badge.

Spc. Sam Arnold of the 520th Medical Company (Area Support), 56th Multi-functional Medical Battalion, finished the course first with a time of 2:25:12. He was followed by 1st Lt. Jessica Knoll, 555th Engineer Brigade, and 2nd Lt. Joseph Miller, of the 514th Medical Company (Ground Ambulance), 56th MMB. Madigan Medical Center's Capt. Stephanie Germeroth had the highest overall score through all testing phases, while Pfc. Nathan Harrington achieved the highest written test score.

"It was pretty tough," Miller said of the foot march. "It was a long course but was definitely worth it. The hardest part was the very meticulous standards that they upheld throughout the course and all the combat testing lanes."

Command Sgt. Maj. Walter Tagalicud, I Corps and JBLM command sergeant major, spoke to the recipients and about 200 guests in an award ceremony at Cowan Stadium after the foot march.

"The EFMB is more than just a badge that these soldiers wear, it is about being an expert of your craft," Tagalicud said. "It is about being able to master the fundamentals of war-fighting, demonstrating that you can shoot accurately, move quickly and communicate effectively.

"It is anticipating requirements and conducting requisite (pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections) to ensure equipment and medical supplies are accessible and serviceable. It is confidently proving ones medical proficiency, treating wounds, applying tourniquets, and sending 9-line medevac reports, while reassuring the wounded that everything is going to be okay."

Tagalicud applauded the 26 EFMB recipients for not only the expertise they demonstrated, but for their character.

"It highlighted your impeccable character: you never faltered and you never quit. You fought through frustration, pain and fatigue. When your teammates needed help, you were the first ones who stayed up late to help. Today you can say, ‘I did it.'" 

October 12, 2017 at 11:24am

POW recalls Fort Lewis

Günter Gräwe, 91, laughs Oct. 3 as he tours the site of his former POW barracks during a visit to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Scott Hansen, Northwest Guardian

Former German prisoner of war Günter Gräwe was 18 years old in August 1944 during what he calls the luckiest time of his life.

That was shortly after he, as a new recruit in the German Army, was injured in the foot by a grenade in Normandy, France, and captured in a field hospital.

Gräwe was transported on the Queen Mary to Dover, Maine. He was then transported by train to a prisoner of war camp near what's now the Washington National Guard Readiness Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Now 91 years old, Gräwe returned to JBLM Oct. 3 to ride his bicycle from the Liberty Gate on Lewis Main to the site of that former prisoner of war camp. He was escorted by JBLM military police members.

For Gräwe, the visit to JBLM was an opportunity to say "thank you" for the treatment he received as a prisoner and see once again the place that holds positive memories, despite the troubling times of his youth. The buildings, now a handful of brown one- and two-story structures, are all that remains of what was 60 barracks, a soccer field, fences and guard towers.

He toured the inside of one of the surviving structures with Col. William Percival, deputy garrison commander of JBLM and commander of the 627th Air Base Group.

"My bed was over there," Gräwe said, as he pointed to a corner in the building similar to the one in which he'd lived. "It was (a bunk bed). The (building) must have been improved later; it wasn't as nice as this."

Gräwe doesn't have any complaints about his treatment as a prisoner. In fact, he had only good things to say about his time in America.

"All we cared about was the food," he said of prison life.

Gräwe said he appreciated the meat and vegetables served but also loved that he could use his 80 cents a day -- payment for work performed picking apples or harvesting potatoes in eastern Washington or picking cotton in Arizona -- to purchase items he would not have been able to buy in Germany.

In a 2016 letter to Marie McCaffrey, co-founder and executive director of History Link, who accompanied Gräwe on his visit to JBLM, he wrote: "It was in August or September 1944 when I stood in front of a shop in the POW Camp (at) Fort Lewis considering what to buy first: an ice cream or a bottle of Coca-Cola. The last ice cream I had been able to buy in Germany was years ago. But Coca-Cola? Never before. So I decided to take both. I suddenly realized how extremely lucky I had been to be captured by the American Army and not the Russian one."

Food was rationed in Germany during World War II, and Gräwe's family wasn't able to buy such niceties. Gräwe grew up the oldest of two children in Lüdensheid, a small west German town. He had a sister, Erika, who was three years younger than him. She died in 2015.

Gräwe joined Deutsches Jungvolk -- a German group for young people -- when he was 10 years old and transitioned into the Hitler Youth program at the age of 14. At the time, Gräwe had no knowledge of the German leader's horrific plans for his country. Gräwe said he thought of the youth groups as similar to American Boy Scout programs.

"We had fun and went places, camping and games, things we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise," he said.

His father was drafted into the German Army and died a year later, when Gräwe was just a youth. Before his 18th birthday, Gräwe was called into the German Army. He joined voluntarily, he said.

According to Gräwe, the German Army and Hitler's Nazis were two completely different groups. Prison camps in America, including the one at JBLM, also differentiated between the two, giving 10 cents a day in pay for work to Nazi prisoners and 80 cents a day to German soldiers, such as Gräwe, according to Duane Denfield, JBLM architectural historian.

Gräwe said he and other prisoners couldn't believe it when an American military officer told of atrocities performed by Nazis, such as Jews being murdered in concentration camps. A few years after the war, Gräwe returned to Germany. He married his wife, Chrestel, in 1950. She died two years ago, shortly before he decided to make the trip to JBLM.

"She'd have said I was crazy," he said, when asked if his wife would have approved his pilgrimage.

The couple has two sons, Ulrich and Mathias, who now run the family import business in Germany, along with his grandson, Holm, and his wife, Swetlana.

Gräwe said he was glad to have seen JBLM and met current military leaders, and he is grateful for the way Americans help other countries -- such as the Marshall Plan, after WWII, which helped rebuild Germany. He said he decided to make this bike trip now because he wanted to thank America for treatment he'd not have received at the hands of other captors.

"With all the trouble in the Middle East, there are so many things happening," he said. "I think of the prisoners of ISIS; they won't get ice cream or Coca-Cola. My stay here was the best (treatment) I've had."

October 11, 2017 at 2:31pm

Comedian Jo Koy to Perform at Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel

Rochester, WA, October 5, 2017 –– Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel welcomes comedian Jo Koy to their Event Center stage on Friday, November 3, 2017 at 8PM.

In addition to regularly performing to sold-out crowds across the nation, Jo Koy has been featured on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, starred as a recurring panel member on The Chelsea Handler Show and has had two featured specials on Comedy Central. His latest special, Jo Koy, Live from Seattle is currently showing on Netflix. Inspired by his humorous family, Jo Koy’s comedy brings a uniquely hilarious perspective on life.

We are proud to be a place where our guests can see their favorite entertainers in an intimate setting. We are extremely excited to be bringing Jo Koy back to his home state for what surely will be a memorable performance. If you’ve never seen his show live, get ready to laugh so hard you’ll cry” said Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel CEO Lisa Miles.

Seating is limited and the show is expected to sell out quickly. Tickets and more information can be found online at or by calling 1-800-720-1788. Players Club members can get discount tickets starting at just $25 when purchased at the casino.


Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel is owned and operated by The Chehalis Tribe and features approximately 1,300 slot machines, 14 table games, exceptional dining, live entertainment and a 170-room hotel. More information can be found online at


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