POWIDZ AIR BASE, POLAND
POWIDZ AIR BASE, Poland - There once was a tale of three brothers, Lech, Čech and Rus, who all lived in a small village. As time passed, their families grew to such a size that the town could no longer support them; so they set out in different directions to find a new home.
Rus went to the east, while Čech travelled west. Lech; however, ventured north to see what fertile lands waited for him.
One day, while hunting, Lech came upon a magnificent, but fierce, white eagle protecting its nest from intruders. Surprisingly, the eagle flew off – its white feathers reflecting the deep red of the setting sun. He took this sighting as a good omen and founded the settlement of Gniezno, “the eagle’s nest.”
Today, nearly a thousand years later the skies above Poland are alive with another magnificent beast. Twenty miles from where Lech founded the former capital of Poland, two C-130J Super Hercules’ from the 37th Airlift Squadron out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany broke through the clouds above Powidz Air Base – their matted gray frames glistening white in the afternoon sun, July 28.
“We represent America’s forward presence, postured alongside our proven indispensible European partners,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bill Tice, detachment commander at Powidz. “Together, we are ensuring our security, protecting our global interests and bolstering economic bonds.”
The ties that bind Poland and the United States together run deep. During the American Revolution, Count Kazimierz Pułaski, a Polish nobleman, fought alongside the Colonists – distinguishing himself during battle and even saving the life of George Washington. Due in no small part to his incredible military prowess, Pulaski is remembered as “the father of the American cavalry.”
Continuing the long-standing tradition of shared commitment and close cooperation, Airmen are diligently working with the Polish Air Force throughout this flying-training deployment to maintain joint readiness and build interoperability capabilities.
“The Polish are modernizing their air force and we are here to assist as we can,” said Maj. Micah Chollar, 52nd Operations Group Detachment 1 director of operations. “The border between the east and west has moved and Poland is the new edge. We are working together to develop Poland into a stronger ally and NATO partner. By strengthening them, we strengthen ourselves.”
From a bird’s eye view, the unique terrain of Poland offers Airmen an opportunity to proficiently develop airdrop training and paratrooper skills, while simultaneously training pilots to safely touch down on unimproved landing zones.
“This has been an amazing opportunity for our Airmen,” said Tice. “The benefit of training with other nations far outweighs the benefits of training independently. We stand to learn so much from the people of Poland, as well as offer our own unique insights.”
Quite fittingly, after Lech and his family founded Gniezno, they came to be known as Polonians, which means, “people of the field,” a people who have welcomed the American presence in their country with open arms.
“The people are incredibly friendly,” said Chollar. “We share common values and, in some aspects, a common history. I think they can relate to us better from our physical presence here and commitment to this mission.”
As Airmen of the 37th AS continue to build partnerships with the people of Poland, and hone their skills through intense training, they also represent something more.
“Through strengthened relationships and engagements with our Allies, the United States and NATO demonstrate a shared commitment to a peaceful, stable and secure Europe,” said Tice.
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This work, Crossroads: Legend of the white eagle, by TSgt Jarad Denton, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.