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    'L' is for Loyalty

    'L' is for Loyalty

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Caitlyn Byrne | Two young Estonian boys try on U.S. tactical gear and look through a night observation...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Caitlyn Byrne 

    10th Press Camp Headquarters

    TAPA, Estonia - For many, moving to a new country is both a beginning and an end; the end of one way of life and the start of another.

    For Pfc. Yevgeniy Lelchitskiy, native of Brooklyn, New York, and infantryman for 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, it was the end of his life in Kiev, Ukraine, and the beginning of his journey as an American.

    “When we got to the states my first memory was seeing all the vehicles on the roads,” said Lelchitskiy. “I was nine years old when I came here and seeing all the vehicles and how much of an abundance of everything there was in the states was a stark contrast. When me and my family moved out of Ukraine it wasn’t long after [Ukraine] broke out of the Soviet Union and the country was in still in shambles.”

    Lelchitskiy was born in 1989 and his family moved to the United States in 1998. Despite the initial culture shock of seeing the sea of rushing cars and the forest of skyscrapers jutting towards the sky, Lelchitskiy was able to easily adjust to his newfound home.

    “It wasn’t very hard for me to transition from Ukrainian to English,” Lelchitskiy said with a slight shrug. “The part of New York where I’m from is very diverse, we have everybody from every place in the world practically; in New York we accept people no matter where you’re from.”

    For Lelchitskiy moving to the United States meant a new life full of possibilities and opportunities.

    “My personal belief is that we came to this country with literally nothing,” said Lelchitskiy. “My sister went to college, my mother went to college and I went to college; this country gave us education and opportunity. I believe that the most I could do for this country for giving us so much is to give a few of my years and my service to my country or more.”

    After attending Kingsborough Community College Lelchitskiy started work as a hospice care provider in a local nursing home, liking that he got to give back and help others. Yet he still wanted to do something more.

    “Being a Soldier is awesome, I love it,” Lelchitskiy said, smiling. “You can’t do what we do in the civilian side. I was in a bit of limbo before I joined …where else am I going to get to do what I do? I’ve always liked to help people, I studied nursing and I’ve always had that goal to help people. I like the crazy hours; I used to work in a hospice nursing home before I joined the Army and my hours were crazy and I could compare that to my Army life and the long hours, things could change at a moment’s notice, I love it. I love the adrenaline rush.”

    Lelchitskiy had found his way to give back to his country in the form of his service in the Army. Ukraine may have been his birthplace but for Lelchitskiy, he says that the U.S. is truly where he calls home.

    “Really what I care about is my country, the United States,” Lelchitskiy said. “All my loved ones are in the states.”

    Currently deployed in Estonia, Lelchitskiy said that he was excited to be in a different country, experiencing different cultures and training with both his unit and the Estonian soldiers in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

    U.S. Army Europe-led Operation Atlantic Resolve is land force assurance training that takes place across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, in order to enhance multinational interoperability, strengthen relationships among allied militaries, contribute to regional stability and demonstrate U.S. commitment to NATO.

    Captain Eric Flynn, native of Mesa, Arizona and company commander for 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, further explained his company’s main mission and goal while in Estonia.

    “What we are here to do is work on our interoperability with the Estonian forces to see how they operate and how we operate and can work together for an overall positive cooperation,” Flynn explained. “The Army does things a certain way and other NATO forces do things a certain way and we’re all trying to work together for collective security, so that the more that we understand about our allies and our friends, the better we will be able to provide security. The experience is that we get to meet the Estonian leadership and soldiers, and my Soldiers can work with their guys so that we build that trust.”

    Lelchitskiy said that he felt motivated to work next to the Estonian soldiers stating, “My hopes are to learn how the Estonian army works, how their infantry tactics are and maybe to help each other refine our weak points, help them improve and just bond with them.”

    Staff Sgt. Bryan Clott, native of La Palma, California, and company master gunner and platoon sergeant for 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, said that Lelchitskiy’s enthusiasm and motivation is definitely noticeable and appreciated.

    “Lelchitskiy is definitely self-motivated, anything you ask him to do he’s more than happy to do it,” Clott said. “Especially when we start doing classes, he understands the language so he helps the unit communicate better with some of our allies.”

    Lelchitskiy can speak five different languages. “I speak Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and a little Polish,” he said. “I always liked languages and learning new things. These are Slavic languages.”

    Yet despite his knack for linguistics, Lelchitskiy said that he felt most at home as an infantryman because of the excitement, the unpredictable hours and of course, the chance to help people.

    As for the immediate future, Lelchitskiy said that he has high hopes for what he and his unit will be able to do while training in Estonia.

    “Operation Atlantic Resolve is combined NATO forces, keeping up their training and working together,” he explained. “Personally, it means building that military relationship with other countries that are part of NATO and showing the world who we are as a whole and that one country may not be as strong on its own, but all together we are a powerful entity.”



    Date Taken: 11.08.2015
    Date Posted: 11.09.2015 02:56
    Story ID: 181398
    Location: TAPA, EE 
    Hometown: BROOKLYN, NY, US
    Hometown: LA PALMA, CA, US
    Hometown: MESA, AZ, US

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