For many troops, promotions and reenlistment ceremonies offer an opportunity to express themselves — tradition holds that service members can pick the setting and participants.
That’s led to some striking images over the years, including a Marine sniper’s promotion in a chest-deep swamp and an Air National Guard NCO’s reenlistment ceremony featuring hand puppets — though all three participants were punished for the move.
An NCO stationed in western Germany recently added to that genre with his own unique choice of promotion ceremony locale: his husband’s family-run café and alpaca farm.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Yeadon is a public affairs NCO with the 16th Sustainment Brigade in Baumholder, Germany. Before his current assignment, Yeadon was a radio disk jockey for American Forces Network in South Korea and a military police soldier assigned to the ceremonial Old Guard — the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment — stationed astride Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.
He’s originally from the small town of Warrenton, Missouri, which Yeadon recalls thinking he’d never leave or even live in a city like Washington, D.C. Now he’s overseas.
During his tour in Germany, Yeadon met and married his spouse, David Hennes. His family has run the Café AllerHand since 2014, the two said during an Oct. 18 phone interview with Army Times.
The café is a popular destination for tourists in the region — according to Hennes, it’s likely the only business around with both a full-service restaurant and on-site llama and alpaca hiking trails. Before he came home to help the family launch the business, Hennes worked in restaurants in Frankfurt, one of Germany’s largest cities.
Since their marriage, Yeadon has devoted much of his free time to helping in the café and with the animals on the adjacent farm, which include llamas, alpacas, goats and horses. He nearly left the Army to work full-time there, he said, but he recently extended his enlistment contract to remain in Germany and continue his military career while also tending to the café.
“It’s always a treat to be there whenever something new is happening — getting to shave llamas [for example], they make the most interesting noises,” the NCO said of the farm. “With the alpacas, they sound like a dying pterodactyl...I never thought that I would get to experience any of this.”
But how did Yeadon end up getting promoted there?
“Originally, [the ceremony] was going to just be on base — I wasn’t putting much thought into it,” he said. “David had to work that day, because it was the German holiday. He had to work and couldn’t come.”
The solution? Bring the promotion to David and his family at the café, which is only a 10 minute drive from the Baumholder garrison.
“This was the first promotion [in my career] that I [had] the opportunity for any kind of family to be there,” explained Yeadon, whose previous promotions came in South Korea and the nation’s capital, where his family couldn’t make it.
Thus, the Oct. 3 ceremony took place in a field behind the café, with curious llamas and alpacas greeting their unexpected guests.
According to an official photo caption from the ceremony, the animals inspected Yeadon’s uniform to give it their “sniff of approval,” as the attendees stood at attention while the narrator read his promotion orders. Hennes and one of Yeadon’s mentors, Master Sgt. Adam Phelps of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, pinned the staff sergeant rank to his chest.
Yeadon said his fellow soldiers “wanted to feed them and touch them and pet them. They were beyond amazed.”
He’s a little surprised by the attention the ceremony garnered, though.
“I’m used to taking the photos, not being in the photos!” he laughed.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.