CHISINAU, Moldova - May 8, 2016, Victory in Europe (VE) Day, the day that marked the end of World War II in Europe, began with a combined static display of Moldovan and U.S. Army vehicles and equipment in Moldova's capital, Chisinau. Hundreds of adults, teenagers, and children found their way to the center park of Chisinau, including the Moldovan Minister of Defense, to see this array of military vehicles being displayed in their city.
One by one Moldovan and U.S. Army vehicles and equipment began to fill the center park early Sunday morning. Shortly after the static display was set up, the crowd began to gradually grow in numbers. Within minutes, the crowd was so thick one could barely get through the park without accidently bumping into someone.
"It's really great to be here and see the people of Moldova," said U.S. Army Sgt. Rafael Valentin, a wheeled vehicle mechanic maintenance supervisor from the Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, stationed out of Grafenwoehr, Germany. "I really like the interaction we have had with the civilians. They are really excited that we are here, and we are excited to be here, too."
The Minister of Defense of Moldova, Aratal Salaru, came to welcome the U.S. Soldiers and to see the two armies' vehicles and equipment displays. He also expressed his feelings about the presence of the U.S. Troops in Moldova and the importance of it.
"I feel that having the U.S. Army here in the Republic of Moldova is a sign that we are heading in the right direction," said Salaru. "We are proud that the U.S. Army is here, and we are proud that the Republic of Moldova not only has a partner in the U.S. Army, but also a friend. It sends a message to the citizens that we are not alone - we have the support of America."
As the day went on, many pictures, selfies, hugs, smiles, and handshakes continued. The citizens of Chisinau conversed with the Moldovan and U.S. Soldiers thanking them for being there and for what they do.
"I am really, really happy about what is going on here," said Vosile Busuioc, a citizen of Chisinau. "I was deported during 'Operation North' when our country was controlled by the Soviet Union," he recalled. "I wasn't able to come back until seven years later. I am so glad that the U.S. Army is here; I want them to stay here forever," said Busuioc.
The static display of Moldovan and U.S. Army vehicles and equipment will be an experience that the citizens of Moldova can share with their family, friends and acquaintances for years to come.
The RES, 2CR Soldiers took part in the combined static display during Exercise Dragoon Pioneer, which is part of an ongoing bilateral cooperation between the U.S. Army and the Republic of Moldova. (Story by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin/Released)