WIESBADEN, Germany — The German supply technician Gerhard Rathmacher completed 45 years of work for the U.S. Army May 5. At the end of 2020, he will retire.
“Everything you do with a smile on your face will come back to you,” he said. “My goal was to help the Americans feel at home here.”
When he started, back in May of 1975 in Bad Kreuznach, he worked for three years as a steam fitter – the profession he learned. Then he changed to the warehouse for one year. What followed was a long career in the Self Help Store in Bad Kreuznach.
“That was a dream job,” he said. He stayed for over 20 years.
The idea behind the SHIP Store was to enable on-post residents to fix smaller issues in their homes on their own, he said. Once a week, he held a Self Help Orientation class.
Circumstances in Germany are different from the U.S., Rathmacher said.
“Those 21 years in Kreuznach were the best time in my life,” he said. “When you explain something to somebody and the person understands and leaves the shop smiling. The feeling that you were helpful to somebody. How beautiful that is.”
“Gery, you got the best SHIP Store here in Europe” was a sentence he will never forget. It happened publicly during a Europe-level meeting of SHIP Store personnel in Sandhofen near Mannheim.
Then, he showed in Italy how to improve the concept of their SHIP Stores.
He stayed in the SHIP Store in Kreuznach until 2001. Then, he worked in Dexheim in the SHIP Store until 2009, when Dexheim closed.
He started working for the warehouse in Wiesbaden, however, was asked to once again work for the SHIP Store on post.
During his time at the SHIP Store, the customer feedback was positive and thankful customers even sent thank you cards.
“The best thing about my job was what I got back from all the people who I helped with all my heart,” he said.
Since 2017, he has worked in his current job as a supply technician for the Directorate of Public Works on Clay Kaserne.
“It was a good time,” he said. He is a little sad to leave and will also miss his colleagues.