Troopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, follow military cadets from the General Povilas Plechavicius cadet lyceum into the forest in Kaunas, Lithuania on March 13, 2021, to hang bird houses they made. The joint efforts show community members cadets and Troopers are good stewards of the environment. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea)
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Troopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, follow military cadets from the General Povilas Plechavicius cadet lyceum into the forest in Kaunas, Lithuania on March 13, 2021, to hang bird houses they made. The joint efforts show community members cadets and Troopers are good stewards of the environment. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Alexandra Shea) VIEW ORIGINAL
Troopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment struggle to hang a bird house in a forest outside the Lithuanian city of Kaunas. Wind was a challenge to overcome while hanging the birdhouses on upper branches of trees in the forest. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea)
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Troopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment struggle to hang a bird house in a forest outside the Lithuanian city of Kaunas. Wind was a challenge to overcome while hanging the birdhouses on upper branches of trees in the forest. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Alexandra Shea) VIEW ORIGINAL
Capt. Spenser Swafford, Fire Support Officer assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, and Lithuanian Liaison Officer Lt. Emile Mazeikaite, Griffin Brigade, read a stone marker placed in the forest Lithuanian freedom fighters occupied for over ten years as they gained their independence from the Soviet Union. Swafford, along with his fellow volunteers, visited the historical site on March 13, 2021, after helping to hang bird houses with military cadets from the General Povilas Plechavicius cadet lyceum. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea)
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capt. Spenser Swafford, Fire Support Officer assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, and Lithuanian Liaison Officer Lt. Emile Mazeikaite, Griffin Brigade, read a stone marker placed in the forest Lithuanian freedom fighters occupied for over ten years as they gained their independence from the Soviet Union. Swafford, along with his fellow volunteers, visited the historical site on March 13, 2021, after helping to hang bird houses with military cadets from the General Povilas Plechavicius cadet lyceum. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Alexandra Shea) VIEW ORIGINAL
The Lithuanian Vytis cross sways in the breeze about a narrow trail leading to a memorial marker dedicated to Lithuanian freedom fighters. Troopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment visited the site after volunteering with local military cadets to hand bird houses. While at the site, the Troopers learned of the struggles and daily life of the freedom fighters that occupied the forest for over ten years. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea)
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Lithuanian Vytis cross sways in the breeze about a narrow trail leading to a memorial marker dedicated to Lithuanian freedom fighters. Troopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment visited the site after volunteering with local military cadets to hand bird houses. While at the site, the Troopers learned of the struggles and daily life of the freedom fighters that occupied the forest for over ten years. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Alexandra Shea) VIEW ORIGINAL
Spc. Dominic Daniels, a supply specialist assigned 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, stretches with a wooden pole to hang a bird house in a tree outside the Lithuanian city of Kaunas on March 13, 2021. Daniels, along with fellow Troopers, volunteered their time to hang the houses with military cadets from the General Povilas Plechavicius cadet lyceum. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea)
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Dominic Daniels, a supply specialist assigned 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, stretches with a wooden pole to hang a bird house in a tree outside the Lithuanian city of Kaunas on March 13, 2021. Daniels, along with fellow Troopers, volunteered their time to hang the houses with military cadets from the General Povilas Plechavicius cadet lyceum. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexandra Shea) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Alexandra Shea) VIEW ORIGINAL

PABRADE, Lithuania – Troopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment took the opportunity to team up with Lithuanian military cadets from the General Povilas Plechavicius cadet lyceum to be good stewards of the environment through a partnership of building and placing bird houses.

“It was exhilarating going to hang bird houses and working with our counterparts,” said Sgt. Quindrekis Perrien, 2-8 Cav. Reg. human resources manager. “The height of the trees and the wind blowing were challenging but I had fun.”

More than 30 recently constructed bird homes were hung in the Kaunas, Lithuanian forest. With only one ladder available, Troopers and cadets climbed trees and used wooden poles to hang the houses. The wind made it more difficult to hang the houses in upper branches of birch trees.

With teamwork and perseverance, the Troopers and cadets hung all the houses within an hour.

With the mission complete, all the participants moved to a covered area as rain began to fall. Traditional Lithuanian soup and bread were shared by all before the group moved to a historical area to learn about the struggles of the Lithuanian military as they gained their independence from the Soviet Union.

“The soup was really good,” said Sgt. Dominic Daniels, a supply specialist assigned to 2-8 Cav. Reg.. “It was very lemony but good.”

As the group arrived at the historical site, they walked a narrow snow-covered path. The Vytis cross was suspended above the path as the group neared a panel of photos and stone memorial dedicated to the Lithuanian Freedom Fighters.

“It was humbling,” said Capt. Spenser Swafford, Fires Support Officer. “Getting to know the history of the resistance fighters. It really put into perspective our purpose here in Europe.”

Swafford, along with the team of volunteers, walked in the footsteps of the fighters along narrow and steep trails through the forest. A small stream bubbled in the background as the sounds of branches breaking underfoot interrupted the silence of the forest.

The group came to a small shelter built into the ground. No larger than an American sedan, they learned the shelter housed as many as 20 fighters as they planned their defense of their homeland.

“It was surprising how big it was once you got inside,” Daniels said of the small shelter’s entrance. “I was surprised to find out 20 people could fit in there.”

The volunteers learned of the daily life and struggles of supply lines interruptions, snow conditions and food shortages for the fighters as they occupied that small area of forest for over 10 years. The struggles were worth the efforts of the fighters as they emerged victorious, gaining their independence.

The volunteers left the memorial and Troopers stopped to pose at the lone wooden marker denoting the entrance to the site.