VILNIUS, Lithuania- Soldiers with 'Head Hunters' 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment (Forward), 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, participated in a national parade celebrating the 101st anniversary of the restored Lithuanian Armed Forces at Vilnius Cathedral Square, Nov 23, 2019.
The Lithuanian Armed Forces Day consisted of all Lithuanian Armed Forces and divisions, members of NATO Forces Battalion, Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian Brigade LITPOLUKRBRIG, and approximately 25 Soldiers representing the 1-9 CAV.
Gitanas Nauseda, President of the Republic of Lithuania, Raimundas Karoblis, Minister of National Defense, and Lithuanian Lt. Gen. Valdemaras Rupsys, Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, welcomed all of the Soldiers to this historic event.
President Nauseda addressed the participants and attendees of the celebration, commenting on the current state of the Armed Forces of Lithuania.
"We are acquiring new military equipment and armaments which are controlled by motivated Soldiers. However, we still have to persevere in our daily work to make all innovations and new armaments work as a harmonious non-destructive mechanism. The Soldiers will have to spend a lot of time in training as they master these new defense capabilities," said Nauseda.
After all of the participating Soldiers solemnly marched along Gedimino Ave. to Independence Square, guests of the event were privileged to witness a flyover of Danish and Belgian F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets as they flew by on a NATO air-policing mission.
Joint partnerships enhance Lithuanaian capabilities, and interoperability in the European theater among military forces as they stand shoulder to shoulder.
"We started from not knowing any of the Lithuanian commands, we had to translate the Lithuanian commands into our commands, which we picked them up and performed really well," said Capt. Douglas A. Wencl, company commander of 1-9 CAV. "The Lithuanian military has been really receptive, whether it's training areas or operations they have been outstanding."
The continued training and participation in the parade allow U.S. Soldiers to strengthen the relationship between military forces and local communities.
"I felt a lot of pride to see the people (at the parade) wanting us to be here. I've also spoken to some of the Lithuanian military medical personnel and they were very professional, friendly and happy that we're here," said Pfc. Bobby Cunningham, of 1-9 CAV. "It's a great experience. The culture, the opportunities to train with another nation and..... lots of pride."
"It was humbling to see the amount of turnout from the various countries, and the amount of support that each country had," said Wencl. "I would just say that it was very humbling."
Every year festive Lithuanaian Armed Forces Day events are organized not only in Vilnius, but also in other cities of Lithuania. The order on the restoration of the Lithuanian Armed Forces was signed in 1918. November 23 each year is celebrated as Lithuanian Armed Forces Day.