BIELSKO-BIALA, Poland - Paratroopers assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, participated in an annual celebration and open house event hosted by the 18th Polish Airborne Battalion, 6th Airborne Brigade, at their headquarters in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, Oct. 14, 2016.
The 18th Airborne Battalion opened their gates and hundreds of people from the local community poured in to enjoy a celebration honoring the unit's storied history and the continued legacy of its paratroopers.
"They have a legacy that dates almost as far back as our own airborne," said Capt. Matthew Heath, commander of D Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. "We have been partnered with them and fighting alongside them since World War II, so we share many of the same traditions, heritage and history. "
The "Sky Soldiers" of D Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. arrived in Poland, Sept.12 and will continue training alongside the 18th Airborne Battalion in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led effort in Eastern Europe that demonstrates U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region.
The celebration opened with the posting of the colors and remarks by distinguished leaders including Polish Lt. Col. Ryszard Burczy, commander of the 18th Airborne Battalion.
Burczy presented awards and recognized a number of paratroopers for their achievements including two U.S. paratroopers, Spc. Kason Glass, team leader, and Spc. Robert Covey, TOW gunner, assigned to D Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt.
These two individuals received coins for their demonstrated leadership potential as well as technical and tactical proficiency in their respective positions, Heath explained.
"It was a great opportunity for our company to recognize them in front of the 18th Battalion and show that we honor not only our top leaders, but the effort of every Soldier," Heath said. "No matter how small the task may be, every Soldier is a valued part of our organization."
Following the formal portion of the event, all eyes were skyward as three paratroopers glided down onto the parade field. The 18th Airborne Battalion paratroopers then delivered a rapid showcase of skills which included reacting to enemy contact, rappelling, room clearing, close corridors combat techniques and a concrete slab-breaking demonstration.
The demonstration emphasized the 18th Airborne Battalion's broad range of capabilities and the Sky Soldiers were honored to take part in the celebration, standing in formation alongside their Polish allies, Heath said.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.