In Bavaria, Military Families Celebrate End of Summer With Fun, Sun and the USO

By Sidney Sullivan

Cool breezes, shorter days and the need for a light sweater all mean one thing – fall is just around the corner.

Over in Bavaria, Germany, last month, the U.S. military community celebrated the change of seasons – and the return to school – at the USO Grafenwoehr Sun & Fun event, which takes place every year at the end of summer.

“It is a special time to celebrate being a military community,” said Gabe Foist, center manager of USO Grafenwoehr.

“To appreciate the families and service members that serve here, just having some fun, enjoying the last hoorah for summer and being excited to go back to school, see friends and get back into learning.”

Photo credit U.S. Army/Sidney Sullivan

A celebratory cake.

Preregistered event participants enjoyed a barbeque, cake cutting, games, prizes, inflatables, canoes, paddleboats, face paintings, a magic show, music and community connectivity.

“It’s been a very challenging last year and a half with COVID,” Foist said. “Other than last year, this is an annual event … so we’re very excited to have this once again and offer it to folks. And we know it’s special to our garrison commander.”

According to Foist, the U.S. Army Bavaria Garrison Commander Col. Christopher Danbeck made it a point to ensure the event was still going to happen over the course of multiple plans and operations meetings. Foist also expressed immense gratitude for all the volunteers — totaling 63 people — as well as the partner and sponsor organizations who set up booths and helped make the event possible.

“We are so grateful for the people who came out [to participate] and for the people volunteering,” Foist said.

People throughout the local entire community came together to make the event a success.

“An example is the young gentlemen over there doing the dunk tank. He’s a guest, but he came up and said, ‘I see your dunk tank. I’ll go in if you want, if you can find a towel for me.’ We got him a towel, and he’s running the dunk tank for us,” Foist said.

Photo credit U.S. Army/Sidney Sullivan

A USO volunteer grills.

Army Spc. Dalton Howard, the impromptu dunk tank volunteer, said that he noticed there was no one in the dunk tank – likely due to the cloudy weather – and thought that kids would have more fun at the booth if they could dunk a person. He was happy to step in to help.

“We had a really good turnout. A lot of kids came by — more kids than I thought were even here once the dunk tank actually kicked off,” he said.

While the USO Sun & Fun event could not promise sun due to overcast weather, attendees of all ages still had plenty of fun throughout the day reconnecting with their community as the seasons change.

- This story originally appeared on It has been edited for

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