Guard Soldiers, Czech Partners Celebrate Victory in Europe Day

By Staff Sgt. Jeff Clements, 29th Infantry Division Public AffairsMay 28, 2024

Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia National Guard Soldiers participated in a Victory in Europe celebration May 8, 2024, in Hranice, Czech Republic. 
They participated in DEFENDER 24, the largest U.S. Army exercise in Europe involving more than 17,000 U.S. and 23,000 multinational service members from more than 20 allied and partner nations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Clements)
Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia National Guard Soldiers participated in a Victory in Europe celebration May 8, 2024, in Hranice, Czech Republic.
They participated in DEFENDER 24, the largest U.S. Army exercise in Europe involving more than 17,000 U.S. and 23,000 multinational service members from more than 20 allied and partner nations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Clements) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Jeff Clements)
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HRANICE, Czech Republic - Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia National Guard Soldiers participated in a Victory in Europe celebration May 8 in the Czech Republic.

The units mobilized to the Czech Republic under the command of the Virginia National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. They joined DEFENDER 24, the largest U.S. Army exercise in Europe, involving more than 17,000 U.S. and 23,000 multinational service members from more than 20 allied and partner nations.

During the two-week exercise in the Czech Republic, Soldiers from the 3-116th lived with their Czech Army counterparts while they conducted live-fires drills and joint training as part of DEFENDER 24.

This exercise marked the largest combined NATO exercise since 1988. These multinational exercises with allies and partners help demonstrate and strengthen the alliance’s shared commitment to global security and stability while promoting interoperability and deterrence.

The Victory in Europe celebration was held in remembrance of the end of World War II in Europe when the Allied Forces officially accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany’s military force.

Lt. Col. Kevin Hoffman, commander of the Task Force (named Task Force Saint Lo in memory of one of the first towns liberated by the 29th Infantry Division following its capture of Normandy), spoke alongside Czech military officials and addressed those gathered for the ceremony.

”I am honored to be here representing America and Task Force St. Lo,” Hoffman said. “This task force is a 1,200-person strong organization demonstrating the total Army concept of integration between military units from across the United States and Europe. We are here to show solidarity and strength with our proud Czech partners. Today, we recognize those who endured hardship, fought fiercely, and through combined heroics, earned the freedom of an entire continent.”

Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945, is celebrated throughout the Czech Republic. Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Republic designated May 8 as Victory Day and Liberation Day.

“This patch on my left shoulder represents the 29th Infantry Division,” Hoffman said. “For those who serve in its ranks, this patch represents America’s resolve to support our allies and promote safety and stability around the world.”

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