WARSAW, Poland - At the invitation of the Polish government, Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe who are currently assigned to Poland participated in ceremonies honoring Polish Armed Forces Day and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 15, 2020.
The national holiday falls on the same date as the key victory over Soviet Russia in 1920 during the Polish-Soviet War. Polish President Andrzej Duda, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. Army Europe Deputy Commanding General for Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Joseph Jarrard attended.
Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division from Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area brought a M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle and a M1 Abrams tank to showcase at the static display alongside Polish tanks.
U.S. troops from NATO enhanced forward Presence Battle Group Poland also took part in the static displays by bringing a Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle. Croatian, Romanian and U.K. soldiers from the battle group displayed various weapons systems and tactical vehicles of their own too.
With COVID-19 preventive measures in place, the annual celebration looked a little different this year. There was no parade, there were hand sanitizing stations at every static display, and attendees wore masks.
However, Soldiers didn’t have to march in the parade to feel included in the celebration.
According to Staff Sgt. Kevin Antiporta, a tank commander with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, being included in the static display and interacting with the Polish military and community was meaningful for him and others.
“I think this is a good experience for younger Soldiers,” Antiporta said about the static display. “What is really unique about the display is that it is pretty rare to see our tanks and theirs lined up next to each other in the capital of Poland."
He added that it was great to see the Polish tanks in person and learn about their specifications from Polish Allies. The ceremony reinforced the U.S. and Poland’s shared goal of continuing to strengthen U.S.-Polish defense relations, NATO unity, and transatlantic security.
Static displays were not the only form of entertainment. The U.S. and Polish Air Force kicked off the main event with a flyover. Polish planes flew over leaving a trail of red and white smoke which formed the Polish flag. A formation of U.S. F-16s followed from Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.
After the flyover, President Duda addressed formations of Polish service members and the public before laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Pilsudski Square and the Jozef Pilsudski monument.
Duda said it was an important day for people to thank Polish Soldiers, pay tribute to those who died for their homeland and to reflect on the difficult times in the country’s history.