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    US Soldier returns home to Lithuania during Saber Strike

    US Soldier returns home to Lithuania during Saber Strike

    Photo By Sgt. Gregory Summers | Spc. Lukas Natkevicius (second from right), a cavalry scout and Marijampole, Lithuania...... read more read more

    KAZLU RUDA, LITHUANIA

    06.07.2018

    Story by Sgt. Gregory Summers 

    22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   

    KAZLU RUDA, Lithuania – Throughout their Army careers, Soldiers are presented opportunities to explore and experience different cultures as they serve and perform their duties while stationed overseas.

    For some, these opportunities to travel and become rooted in cultures outside of the U.S. puts them back to where their lives began and provides the chance to return home.

    As Soldiers with the 2d Cavalry Regiment arrived in Lithuania for Saber Strike 18, an annual NATO military training exercise that tests capabilities and enhances existing relationships among 19 participating countries, one Soldier had the unique opportunity to return and train in his birth country.

    Spc. Lukas Natkevicius, a cavalry scout and Lithuanian native assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 2CR, stationed in Vilseck, Germany, returned to his home country as Lithuania and the United States continue to strengthen their alliance during Saber Strike 18.

    “We are operating and training solely out of Lithuania during Saber Strike,” Natkevicius said. “It feels good to be back in Lithuania and this experience has been amazing. I recognize so many places and I feel comfortable here.”

    Natkevicius was originally born and raised in Marijampole, approximately a one-hour drive just outside of the training area at Kazlu Ruda.

    When he was 13 in 2004, his father entered and won the US permanent resident card immigrant diversity program lottery. This program allows those who enter and are selected from qualifying countries to receive a United States permanent resident card.

    “At the time, out of three-million people, my dad was extremely lucky,” Natkevicius explained. “We were extremely thankful and excited to be able to go to the United States.”

    Natkevicius and his family moved to Florida and eventually relocated to New Jersey.

    “Florida was great and I enjoyed surfing, but New Jersey was cold and it wasn’t much fun,” Natkevicius said with a laugh.

    He finished high school in New Jersey and upon graduation returned to Florida.

    “I enjoyed the area much better and I wanted to make it on my own,” Natkevicius explained. “I intended to go to college as I was saving money while working retail.”

    Then, one of Natkevicius’ closest friends who was in the Army, had recommended the military to him.

    “She was a mechanic and received her education while serving and now works at Google,” Natkevicius said. “I was interested in that opportunity to better myself and that is what the Army provided.”

    In January of 2015, Natkevicius joined the Army as a cavalry scout and has been serving in his first unit with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany for almost two years.

    “The Army has helped me with everything I was struggling with and put me back on my feet,” Natkevicius said.

    Natkevicius recalled his first visit back to Marijampole once he had the opportunity to take a weekend pass.

    “At the time, I hadn’t seen my mom or other family in nearly three years,” Natkevicius explained. “I surprised my mom and called as I was driving from Germany to Lithuania to let her know I was coming home and she was so excited. Eventually, so many members of my family had called me once they found out, I had to pull over to talk to all of them.”

    With only a 13-hour drive between his home and duty station, Natkevicius goes to Lithuania to see his family every chance he gets.

    “Everything has changed for me since I joined the Army,” said Natkevicius. “It’s been great.”

    Natkevicius continues to grow as a Soldier and also serves as HHT’s armorer, responsible for the inventory and maintenance of individual-level weapons systems.

    “I love being a scout and I am enjoying being the armorer so much, I’ve considered re-classing to a small arms repairer,” Natkevicius said.

    Capt. Jared Moore, commander of HHT, said that it has been a privilege working with Natkevicius.

    “He is a very smart, intellectual Soldier and having him in our arms room was a great choice for our organization,” Moore said. “Conducting Saber Strike in Lithuania is not only a great opportunity for him, but it’s also a special opportunity for us to share, experience and witness his journey.”

    “He is truly reenergized and enjoying himself during this exercise in his home country,” Moore added.

    Natkevicius, Moore and other Soldiers of HHT are responsible for the Combat Trains Command Post (CTCP), pulling and moving supplies to and from troops during training operations of Saber Strike.

    Soldiers of the squadron are also working first-hand with Lithuanian soldiers during upcoming key events of the exercise.

    Natkevicius is grateful to be back in Lithuania but is focused on the mission.

    “I feel the same as everyone else, I do my job and I am happy to do it,” said Natkevicius. “It’s great to train here and partner with Lithuanian soldiers and help strengthen our countries’ relationships.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.07.2018
    Date Posted: 06.07.2018 17:43
    Story ID: 280062
    Location: KAZLU RUDA, LT 
    Hometown: GRAFENWOEHR, BY, DE
    Hometown: VILSECK, BY, DE
    Hometown: KAZLU RUDA, LT
    Hometown: MARIJAMPOLE, LT
    Hometown: VILNIUS, LT

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