Mirgorod Air Base, Ukraine, July 18, 2011 - SAFE SKIES 2011 was officially started today as Airmen of the Alabama, California, Massachusetts and Washington Air National Guard participated in opening ceremonies here at Mirgorod Air Base, Ukraine.
A formation of American Airmen stood across from their Ukrainian and Polish counterparts. In the background an Air National Guard F-16D stood proudly behind the Airmen, while a Su-27 was perched behind the Ukrainian formation.
The event began with the commanders of the American and Ukraine units marching toward their formations. U.S. Col. Scott Patten, 187th Fighter Wing Commander and Col. Oleg Ges, Mirgorod Air Base Commander were accompanied by Lt. Gen. Vasyl Nikiforov, Deputy Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force.
Following a rendition of the countries national anthems, the Defense Attaché Col. Dennis Larm addressed both units and expressed his pride in being part of this event; adding the collaboration will provide a great opportunity for both countries to learn from each other and develop better ways to protect the airspace from any potential threat; both for EUROCup 2012 but also well into the future.
At the conclusion of the event, the pilots from both units met in the middle of the ramp and greeted each other with handshakes and embraces, wishing one another good luck on the endeavor.