News: Allied paratroopers tour Polish military history museum
Story by Sgt. Brian Godette
KOLOBRZEG, Poland - As part of ongoing allied training and cooperation, paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade and the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry joined their counterparts in Poland’s 16th Airborne Battalion on a tour of the central European nation’s military history, stretching from the Middle Ages to today, at the Museum of Polish Arms in Kolobrzeg, Poland on May 25.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based out of Vicenza, Italy, serves as the U.S. Army’s contingency response force for Europe. For the past month, a contingent of the brigade’s paratroopers has been training in the region with NATO allies such as Poland to demonstrate U.S. commitment and sustain interoperability between military forces.
“Today we wanted to take our counterparts from the U.S. and Canada and show them a part of our history as the 16th Airborne Battalion, because we are direct inheritors of the tradition of the 16th Infantry Regiment, who fought the battle here at Kolobrzeg during World War II,” said Polish Army Capt. Arkadiusz Skrzek, commander of 2nd Rifle Company, 16th Airborne Battalion.
The Museum of Polish Arms in Kolobrzeg exhibits a vast collection of military artifacts, including many of the weapons, vehicles, uniforms, medals and aircrafts used by the Polish military over the past 1,000 years.
“Most guys that sign up have an affinity for all things military, so it’s pretty cool to walk around and see some of this older stuff,” said Capt. Teddy Borawski, the commander of Chosen Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. “It shows our counterparts that we’re interested and reinforces the relationship with them, letting them know we care.”
The day off was a scheduled break from the paratroopers’ daily airborne and weapons training, and the North American guests gladly accepted their Polish hosts’ invitation to learn about the country more. Kolobrzeg, which translates to “off the shore,” is a coastal city by the Baltic Sea and has played a role in many military engagements throughout history.
“We wanted to take some time off from field duty and do some cultural events to increase the level of knowledge, not just for the U.S. and Canadian, but our soldiers, because we don’t have much opportunity to get to the coast,” Skrzek said.
Soldiers listened intently as the tour guide led them through the various sections of the museum. The eyes of the paratroopers from each country roamed over each corner of the museum as everyone took in the sights of the exhibit.
“Since we are training together, we felt that it is good to share insight and common knowledge of our history,” Skrzek said.
At the end of the tour, the paratroopers delivered a round of applause for the museum’s guide who translated the exhibits’ stories for their allied guests.
In the following days, the paratroopers will resume combined training exercises at Poland’s Drawsko-Pomorskie training area, where they are working together to build interoperability as an allied force.