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PHOTOS: Troops, Families Have a Fine Time on the Rhine With USO

Sunday, July 15, 2012

USO Rhein Main Area-Stuttgart Center Manager Grant McCormick files this report from the special trip that his USO center organized for some of the troops and their families posted in Germany. 

The Rhine Main Area USO Centers of USO Stuttgart, USO Heidelberg and USOs in Wiesbaden took more than 190 military service members and their families onto the Rhine River to enjoy fireworks to help them get a taste of America for the Fourth of July.

On the first week in July, the huge event in the towns of Bingen and Rudesheim, Germany, enchanted thousands. A fleet of around 55 illuminated ships sailed from Rudesheim up to Trechtingshausen along a 10-kilometer stretch of the river, past "burning castles" and fountains of fire to dock back at Rudesheim for the grand finale fireworks display.

Fireworks rose over the castles built on cliffs and mountain tops along the shores of the Rhine to explode in the German sky. The cruise down the Rhine River lasted six hours and included a traditional German dinner, incredible German wine and beer, great friends and at least two hours of stunning fireworks. Everyone enjoyed their dinner and then made their way up to the top deck to see the fireworks show.


Many boats like the one pictured ferried festival-watchers along the Rhine River to take in all the action.

Many riders stated: "There is no better way to celebrate the Fourth of July in Germany than to float down the Rhine River and watch fireworks explode above 500-year-old castles."


Sgt. 1st Class Rob Mayo enjoys a view of Oberwesel with parts of its medieval town fortifications and the Church of Our Lady in the background.

Sharon Mayo said: "This may not be a traditional United States Fourth of July fireworks celebration, but this is one Independence Day experience I will never forget."


Burg Gutenfels, above the town of Kaub and the Pfalzgrafenstein castle, was used by Ludwig the Bavarian King as a customs fortress to collect Rhine tolls.


Burg Ehrenfels castle near Bingen built in 1210 has remained a ruin since it was destroyed by the French in 1689.


The island fortress "Pfalzgrafenstein" castle resembles a stone ship, pointed upstream, in the middle of the river near Kaub used to collect tolls.


A very enthusiastic USO guest playing tour guide pointing out the many exciting sights along our journey.

Martha Twigg, another extremely happy guest said: "I can't believe the view, this is the best fireworks show I've ever seen."

 (Photos by Grant McCormick. Produced by Christian Pelusi) 


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