ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia -- Soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga., and 173rd Airborne Brigade out of Grafenwöhr, Germany, participated in the Parade of National Armed Forces, held in Jelgava, Latvia, May 4.
The "Day of Restoration" celebrated the independence of the Republic of Latvia; a declaration made on May 4,1991.
With the Latvian Armed Forces's Commander-in-Chief, President Andris Berzins in attendance, Soldiers from the "Rock of the Marne" Division's C Co., 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment and the "Sky Soldier" Brigade's A Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, were among the 500 personnel from the U.S. Army, Latvian and Swedish Armed Forces, and national law enforcement.
"It was extremely vital for us to be here, showing our commitment," said Capt. Jonathan Punio, commander of C Co., 2-7 Inf. Reg. "It was an excellent opportunity for the Soldiers to get out in the community and celebrate their Independence Day alongside of them."
The day's events not only honored the country's independence on May 4,1991, but provided an opportunity for Latvians to come get more familiar with the military.
"[The Parade of National Armed Forces] is not only about the freedom of Latvia, but also honors our partnerships," said Latvian Land Forces Executive Officer, 1st Lt. Arnis Auzans. "As NATO partners it is important that we show the world our ability to work alongside and cooperate with one another."
Punio, a Honolulu native, reiterated the importance of the understanding allies and fostering an environment and relationship where, when the time comes, working with one another is more efficient and effective.
"This was a unique opportunity," Punio said. "It allowed us to not only train somewhere else, but work with an allied force and become a force multiplier."
Along with fostering a better understanding of the world, this U.S.-Latvia engagement is in conjunction with Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between the U.S. and other NATO allies.