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NEWS | Nov. 16, 2021

LRC Wiesbaden director who served 44 years with Army to retire at end of 2021

By Cameron Porter 405th Army Field Support Brigade

A strong and successful team relies on each other, but it’s not unusual for the team to rely a little more heavily on one member more than the others. For a football team, it’s usually the quarterback. For a soccer team, it’s the captain.

And the same is true for Army teams.

When the assistant division commander of support for the 1st Armored Division in Germany was about to deploy to Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003, he lined up a small group of his key and essential rear detachment personnel in front of the headquarters in Hanau, Germany. As he walked the line, he stopped and pointed at Heinz Kaffenberger and said “make sure you take care of our Families.”

The Logistics Readiness Center Wiesbaden director retires at the end of the year with 44 years of service – 44 years of taking care of Soldiers and Families as a key and essential member of the Army team.

In 1977 – soon after his mandatory 15-month conscription service with the German army – Kaffenberger accepted a job offer and went to work with the U.S. Army at the age of 21. His first job was as an auto mechanic with an Army air defense unit on Cambrai-Fritsch Kaserne in Darmstadt, Germany.

“The U.S. Army has always been so good to me, and fortunately for me I was always at the right spot when there was a potential for promotion,” said Kaffenberger.

Even if some of those promotions were forced, he said.

After serving as an auto mechanic, lead mechanic, quality assurance inspector and privately owned vehicle inspector, Kaffenberger was offered a promotion to maintenance officer, which he really didn’t want.

“I was not interested in this job because I thought it was too challenging,” Kaffenberger said. “So the director of logistics called me in on a Sunday. He said the MPs needed fuel, and there was something wrong with the fuel station.”

When Kaffenberger arrived at the DOL’s office, his boss – called director of industrial operations at the time – hit Kaffenberger with a switcheroo and a curve ball.

“‘You need to make a decision right now,’ he said to me. ‘Either I hire you and pay you as my maintenance officer, or I hire someone else and you do the job anyway,’” said Kaffenberger. “As an exception to policy I was promoted to maintenance officer, jumping two or three grades at the time.”

“Opportunities like this with the U.S. Army, I am very thankful for,” said Kaffenberger, who has served as the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s LRC Wiesbaden director for more than 14 years. “Opportunities like this are not possible without the right amount of schooling or the right university degree in the German system.”

Sure, there are a lot of training requirements with the U.S. Army – some of which can be very challenging, especially for a local national employee who initially does not have a masterful understanding of the English language, Kaffenberger said.

“But the opportunities are there, and people are able to see your potential,” said Kaffenberger, adding that he believes he spent more waking hours of his life working for the U.S. Army than probably anything else.

And Kaffenberger said he’s also keenly aware of where most of the credit for his successes lie.

“It was never me,” said Kaffenberger, who leads a team of about 85 people at LRC Wiesbaden. “I always had great teams, and they always made sure we met our obligations or exceeded expectations.”

“It was always the people working with me,” said Kaffenberger, who at one time was the Director of Logistics for the 104th Army Support Group and responsible for several communities – from Giessen to Baumholder, Hanau to Bad Kreuznach and more – with nearly 400 employees assigned to his directorate.

“As a leader, you can make sure the resources are there, but the work is always done by the people around you,” he said. “In my case it was always that way. I have always had excellent people working around me.”

“And I’ve made a lot of friendships over the years,” he added. “I’ve met many interesting people during my career and made a lot of friends.”

“Some were captains when I first met them, and they retired as a lieutenant colonels,” he said. “One of them was the commander of the 405th AFSB and retired as a colonel.”

One of his lifelong Army friends, who was the director of logistics at the 104th ASG when Kaffenberger was the transportation chief, served as the director of U.S. Army Installation Management Command Pacific, a Senior Executive Service position and major command.

“I went to his wedding,” said Kaffenberger, who is married to his own spouse of 11 years, Anne from Scotland.

“Just yesterday I met someone in the hallway who I worked with about 20 years ago. He’s retiring next month, just like me. When he pulled his mask down, I said ‘I know you,’” he said.

Kaffenberger, who is from Reichelsheim, Germany, plans to stay busy upon retirement and spend lots of time with his family.

“My calendar is full,” Kaffenberger said. “I inherited a farm from my parents, and I’m currently totally renovating the old farm house. I also own a little piece of land in the forest, and I really like to work there. I also have a rich life volunteering and working for my town.”

“But most of all I’m looking forward to spending time with my grandchildren,” said the father of two and grandfather of four. “Two of my grandchildren live right across the street from me. We live in a nice area, and I’m really looking forward to many enjoyable moments with them outside.”

A farewell luncheon is planned for Kaffenberger and scheduled for Dec. 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Brauhaus Castel in Mainz-Kastel, Germany. To RSVP, call 0611-143-528-2323 or email christine.m.schneider8.ln@army.mil.