The Bet
Losing Gracefully

Willie Aufmkolk - An Angel That You Should Know

While David Kaspar and team at Davids Medienkritik expose the immense insanity of the German media (ours is mostly insane, too), you don't always see some of the very good work of the fine people of Germany. Ladies and Gentlemen (and Harvey), I present a letter to you from Wilhelmine ("Willie") Aufmkolk, a Soldiers' Angel of Germany. She writes of her experiences working with Patti and the rest of Soldiers' Angels and what it means to love our soldiers:

We Will Never Forget Our American Friends

As I met Patti in 2003 I was looking in the internet for information about the Iraq war, because a good friend from me from Forth Biehler, Wiesbaden, Germany went in May 2003 to Iraq to help the Iraqi people to rebuild their country. For me and my husband Rudi were this it a great opportunity to do something for my American friends, to give something back to our friends who have given us so much over the last 59 years.

On Good Friday 2004 Irene and Manfred Kilp and me we visited for the first time wounded and injured Soldiers and Marines in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) and brought them greetings from the Soldiers Angels. Since this time our visits were every time truly overwhelming to us all, to go to the war wounded who had just returned from combat from Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan or from Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, give them your hand, a smile and to say to them:

    Thank you for fighting the war against every art from the terrorism.

    Thank you for bringing more freedom to the people of Iraq.

    Thank you for keeping our world a little bit safer and bring more freedom in our world.

This time it was our first visit in a military hospital. We have seen, our wounded Soldiers and Marines need our all help, since the war against the terrorism started, day for day wounded arrive at the greatest US military hospital in Europe, here in Landstuhl. And how we have seen, they need backpacks! On this day the first 60 backpacks which arrived from the Soldiers Angels we have been dispatched on the wounded directly. A lot of good things were in it - all things they need so much: hooded sweat shirt, T-Shirt, sweat pants package of boxers and socks, 120 minute ATT calling card, CD Player (w/extra batteries), Stick Deodorant, shave gel, shampoo and body bath, disposable razors, toothbrush, with bristle cover, tube of toothpaste and more goodies.

Willie and the backpacks in the Fisher House

Since this time a lot of Angels, friends and other people have donated money, backpacks and a lot of things and their time to make the backpacks ready. They have written together with students so much Get Well Soon cards which we have done all in the backpacks, so the greetings from home went directly to the wounded. All the wonderful handmade blankets of hope, we brought to the wounded will help him to find “a way” for a fast recovery, to lift his spirit and to express our love and appreciation for his toll he has paid. Until today we were this year eight times in the hospital and brought to wounded over 280 backpacks, over 100 gift bags with T-shirt, underpants and socks, over 40 German/English cooking books for the nurses and the Fisher House and much more. This was only possible through the help from Kathy Gregory, manager from the Fisher House Landstuhl and Chaplain (LTC) William T. Young from the Chaplains office Landstuhl, our hero Sgt. Leecharde R. Bersamina, 1st AD and all the wonderful and hard-working Angels who sent so many boxes to Germany.

The most of our visits we started together with the Fisher House, Kathy Gregory. She welcome us always with a kind and friendly reception to made us feel very welcome and at ease. She has given us their time to go with us and the backpacks over the wards to give it out. A great thankyou to Chaplain (LTC) William T. Young and Chaplain (MAJ) R. Coggins, too, who have given their time to go with us to the wounded, too. Until today, we visited a lot of Soldiers and Marines, seldom females wounded. I am so sad to say this, but the most of them suffer extensive injuries and wounds, on their bodies, in their faces, arms and legs or have lost limbs – lost this for every. On the wards Kathy or the Chaplains introduced us as, “Hello, the Fisher House and members from the Soldiers Angels, Germans who support their American friends in overseas bring you a backpack and greetings from home”.

Willie and Irene with the backpacks for the Fisher House

To say, "Hi, how are you? How you are going?” to meet our all heroes with a warm smile and a firm handshake is a wonderful feeling which we will never miss. To see how young they there! Walking over the wards seeing young men and sometimes women often 19, 20, 21 years old, often kids, is as you will see your own daughter or son there. And if you look them in their eyes, you see the strength, courage and patriotism in them. It is hard not to go to each of them to give them greetings and say a great thank you to them. To see a hero sitting in a wheelchair, above-knee amputated, is ready to continue his recovery to go further to other hospitals in the States and will lacerate your heart. They smiled so brightly, and their eyes so full of love, they are full of admiration for what we all do.

Often they say only a word, thanks and sometimes more, but you can see in their eyes that they would say more if they can. Their morale was great and all expressed a desire to get back to their buddies! They talked about their fellow Soldiers with honour and sincere admiration. They spoke of their loved ones and how they missed home. Then, they expressed their gratitude for our visit, and how much it meant to them.

Kathy, Andrew, and Willie, with Manfred in front

We are glad that we have the courage to do that, to support our wounded American friends here in Germany and the Angels in the States. All the time when we left the hospital we couldn't stop talking about how we related to each individual and what they said that affected us so directly.

The important matter is: They have seen that they are not alone. That we believe in them and that we will never forget them. They all are on our minds, in our hearts, and in our prayers.

God Bless our both countries.

Wilhelmine Aufmkolk, Germany
02. November 2004

"May No Soldier Go Unloved“

Someday, Willie, I'm going to get back to Germany (haven't been there since 1999). When I do, I'm going to give you a big hug and buy you (and all the Angels in Germany) a bier!

Ernst mach' dein' Sach
dann trink' und lach!

You can help support Willie and the other Angels here in the states by buying backpacks for our wounded soldiers here.

[You can read about other People That You Should Know - follow the link and scroll down]