By Anna CiccottiSeptember 30, 2013
VICENZA, Italy (Sept. 30, 2013) -- Ten Soldiers of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), stationed at Caserma Del Din picked up their paint rollers and joined Vicenza locals Sept. 21 to help repaint the Stadio "Romeo Menti."
These Soldiers, a majority from 173rd Special Troops Battalion, volunteered to paint the external wall of the stadium, which is home of the city's soccer team, as part of a community service project organized by the brigade's civil-military partnership office.
"I think it is very positive that the American Soldiers joined the local volunteers to lend a hand to the community," said Umberto Nicolai, sport assessor for the city of Vicenza. "They love soccer just as much as we do and made themselves available with great civic sense. We need to move (away from) the old concept that the American Soldiers are not interested in Vicenza. They responded with enthusiasm to the initiative, and this is a good example that helps build the feeling of belonging to the community."
"I've been painting since I was a teenager," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mitchel C. Dascent, with the 173rd GEOINT Cell. "It was my summer job and I just like it. Since I play soccer with the post team I thought it would be a good way to pay forward and show the community that the 173rd is here to help."
Mayor of Vicenza Achille Variati was among the volunteers who joined in the initiative.
"It sends a very good message that the American Soldiers are here with us today. We live in the same city and when there is a need for help, we all come along and this way we grow together as one community," he said thanking the Soldiers for their support.
Tiziano Cunico, president of the Vicenza soccer club, said it was great surprise to him to hear that that this union of strength with American Soldiers was coming along to support his team.
"I am very pleased as I was born when the Americans were already in town and we have always lived well together in Vicenza," Cunico said.
As a token of the club's appreciation, he invited the Soldiers at the stadium, along with the other volunteers, to watch a very difficult match when Vicenza plays against the number-one ranked team, in two weeks.
In Vicenza since March, Spc. Aleksandra Kim, with B Company, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, said that volunteering to help is fun.
"It's very nice to be here and today it means a lot to me," Kim said. "It means being part of the Vicenza community. We are helping out Italians; we are communicating and bonding with Italy so that's very nice."
"I wanted to come out to volunteer and meet some of the local Italians and just have some fun," said Spc. Megan Jester. "The painting was great. I looked around and I thought it was still a job done by everyone. We came along as team and that was great. I am excited about the soccer game in two weeks. So I definitely want to come to that."
Spc. Brennen J. Sharp Pollos, with B Company, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, noted that the teamwork kept the project moving very quickly and provided "the opportunity to associate and get to meet and work with soccer fans and citizens of Vicenza. It is something that we don't get to do very often so when we get the chance to do it, it is very valuable."
A lifetime soccer fan of Vicenza, Pierpaolo Paolucci (Pippo) is one of the thousands Vicentini who grew up watching games here.
"The stadium is a temple for us, a sort of holy ground. For this reasons we have the highest respect and admiration for these young Americans who came together to support the team. What a beautiful surprise it was," Pippo said.