CAMP ADAZI, Latvia -- Regularly engaged in training with their NATO partners, Paratroopers assigned to Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, took a break to meet with students at Rezeknew Novada Dricanu School in Dricani, Latvia and Tiskadu Secondary School in Tiskadu, Latvia, during a partnered outreach program with the Latvian Land Forces, Nov. 29, 2016.
"It was an opportunity to let them know why we are here," said 1st Lt. Tyler Rauenzahn, platoon leader, C Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt.
The 'Sky Soldiers' of C Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt., are on a training rotation 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.
Upon arriving at each school, the Latvian soldiers provided a brief presentation to the students. The Chosen Company "Sky Soldiers" then shared a video of their airborne insertion from Exercise Silver Arrow in October, before the students broke into smaller groups.
By breaking into smaller groups, the Paratroopers were able to interact on a personal level with the students and answer the great number of questions they had about both life in the Army as well as their mission here in Latvia.
"The students had a lot of questions," said Sgt. Arturo Garcia, team leader, C Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. "It was quiet at first but as soon as we started asking them about Latvia, then they started coming up with questions and opening up a little bit more."
The Paratroopers discussed a wide range of topics with the students including what the mission is here in Latvia, what it is like for them to jump out of aircrafts, the weapon systems they use, why they chose to become Paratroopers, where they've been and what they've enjoyed most about their time here so far.
"It was actually a pretty neat experience getting to know at little bit about their culture too," Garcia said.
During their visit, the Paratroopers also received a number of recommendations from the students who were eager to share what local foods they suggest and fun activities for the 'Sky Soldiers' to to do during their down time.
Rauenzahn said he hopes his Paratroopers were able to connect with the students during the outreach and gain a better overall understanding of why they are here.
"It kind of puts a bigger purpose behind spending hours and hours training everyday," Rauenzahn said. "It let's them know we are here in support of children who are going to school who are only kilometers away from the border. I think it puts a real strong purpose behind our mission other than making ourselves better and well-trained."
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.