U.S., Bulgarian Airmen repair parks, build bridges
GRAF IGNATIEVO, Bulgaria -- More than 150 U.S. and Bulgarian air force members volunteered free time to clean up two parks in the community here April 22.
The U.S. forces are deployed to Bulgaria for Thracian Star 2012, a coalition exercise geared toward strengthening partnerships with NATO allies. In keeping with that theme, Airmen ventured out into the community to help where they could.
Before arriving, Dr. (Capt.) Rocky Jedick, 510th Fighter Squadron flight surgeon, spoke with the mayor of a local village and asked if the community had any projects the unit could take on. The mayor, Ivan Semerdjiev, in return requested their assistance with refurbishing playground equipment and making a new soccer field at the local park.
"Today we continue a pre-established partnership between the American and Bulgarian militaries and the Bulgarian community that helps and gives assistance to the Bulgarian children," said Semerdjiev. "They are establishing a new soccer field that the children will be able to play on for years to come."
U.S. and Bulgarian air force members rose to the challenge. Armed with paint brushes, paint, wood stain, rakes, picks, shovels and wheel barrows, the volunteers got to work.
The playground equipment for younger children received a new coat of vibrant paint, while wooden benches for the elderly were freshly stained. For the village youth, participants began clearing a large field of rocks, old grass, weeds and debris so that grass seed could be laid for the soccer field.
Local children seemed hardly able to wait. Many rode up on their bicycles and began playing soccer next to the workers in the field, with some volunteers taking a well-earned break from their labors to join in.
Older community members also seemed curious about the goings-on in their park and began helping. Some villagers even brought additional wheelbarrows and carts for hauling the debris away.
One resident, Dimo Bankov, said he really appreciated what the volunteers were doing for the community and that other community members feel the same way.
"As you can see, our children love to play soccer," he said. "Now they will have a proper field to play on with brand new goals, thanks to these people. They have been out working hard all day to help us. It is good to see people from two different countries working together for the children."
Since Bulgaria's inclusion into the NATO alliance in 2004, U.S. forces have visited the country several times, working hand-in-hand with the Bulgarian air force to increase military interoperability between the nations. It has become tradition to also work together in the community, building a multi-faceted partnership. The Graf Ignatievo mayor said he hopes the tradition continues.
"The U.S. is the first of our allies to actually help the community in some way," Semerdjiev said. "Before we became a part of NATO, our allies would come, use our base and leave. Americans always give back. Look at how hard they are working -- working together with the Bulgarians. They are creating something special for the children, something that will last."
Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Clark, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron egress section chief and one of the volunteers, also participated in an exercise here in 2008. He said he enjoyed doing volunteer work in the community the last time he was here and was happy to do so again.
"This is a very worthwhile project," Clark said. "This park was in pretty bad shape when we got here, and you can see these kids would really like a place to play. It's worthwhile just to see them excited as they are. Everyone is so happy to be out here and helping. [The community members] keep thanking us and giving us high fives -- it's really cool."
Find more articles tagged with:
- Thracian Star
- helping people
- Aviano Air Base
- community relations
Air National Guard Airmen from the Minnesota 133rd and 148th Civil Engineering Squadrons and Montana 219th Red Horse Squadron partnered with the Croatian Army June 20 through July 4, to renovate bathrooms at an elementary school in Ogulin, Croatia.
For three weeks, Moldovan engineers and soldiers of North Carolina National Guard’s 430th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company trained side by side and shared the latest tactics, techniques and procedures in eliminating landmine hazards in order to return the land to productive economic use and development.
Several military exercises are scheduled to begin this month in the United States European Command area of responsibility
Students from 10 European nations participated in the seventh iteration of the SOCEUR tactical intelligence course held at the Slovenian Ministry of Defense Training Facility. The STIC is designed to increase the intelligence, or intel, capabilities at the Special Operations Task Unit level for commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
U.S. Special Operations forces, in support of Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), participated in an opening ceremony for Exercise Spring Storm Monday. This opening ceremony kicked of the special operations portion of the Estonian Defense Forces’ annual exercise.
The Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing has been executing several airlift missions with its Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long range cargo jets to support the expanded land force training activities of the SAC nations’ armed forces in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
More than 100 Airmen and three C-130J Super Hercules cargo aircraft from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, deployed to enhance bilateral defense ties with Polish armed forces members during a scheduled aircraft rotation to the U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment in Poland.
Chiefs of defense from Central and Eastern reinforced the importance of NATO and their alliance and partnerships emphasizing proven partnerships built on shared values, experiences and vision.
A dozen more F-16s and 300 personnel based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, will augment the U.S. aviation detachment at Lask Air Base, Poland, a Pentagon spokesman announced today.
In advance of their budget testimony this morning before a Senate panel, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey outlined Defense Department activities pertaining to the crisis in Ukraine.