VICENZA, Italy (Jan. 25, 2013) -- U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr. recently visited with Soldiers of USAREUR's 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Caserma Ederle here, thanking them for their contributions to USAREUR's partnerships with Italy and Europe and applauding the brigade's successful completion of its most recent combat tour.

During the visit, which was the general's first visit with a USAREUR maneuver unit since he officially assumed command Jan. 9, Campbell spent some time talking with brigade "Sky Soldiers" and shared lunch with them at the caserma's South of the Alps Dining Facility.

Campbell told the Soldiers their support of USAREUR's mission has played a vital role in its efforts to build multinational partnerships, ensure European regional security and sustain U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. As if to underscore his remarks, the brigade is now welcoming back many of its Soldiers from combat.

The general said the 173rd has done "an incredible amount of heavy lifting" in all its roles, calling their accomplishments in Afghanistan impressive and the way its rear detachment has taken care of Soldiers and families in Vicenza magnificent.

"I'm very proud of the brigade," Campbell said in an interview during his visit. "Almost to a Soldier (they told me), 'I love Italy and I love the brigade and the opportunity to serve in a brigade of such high quality with (such a distinguished) history and lineage.'"

"It's very uplifting as a senior leader when you talk to Soldiers and they have so many positive things to say about their assignment here and the importance of what they do," he said. "I'd like to thank the 'Sky Soldiers' for a great visit and continue to tell them thank you for what they do for our great country and our Army every day."

"We're extremely proud to be part of the USAREUR team, and the fact that General Campbell chose to visit the 173rd at the outset of his command shows his commitment to 'Sky Soldiers' and their mission," said Lt. Col. Brian D. McDonald, the 173rd's rear detachment commander. "He knows our Soldiers -- many of whom are returning from combat as we speak -- have taken on some extremely tough challenges, given them their all, and proven their skill, dedication and will to succeed."

MdDonald said the USAREUR command team, comprised of Campbell, Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer, deputy commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr., have all taken considerable time to support, visit, mentor and engage the 173rd's Soldiers in Vicenza. In addition, McDonald said he has seen them all spend time with brigade family members, particularly the families of 'Sky Soldiers' killed or wounded in combat.

Campbell was here as part of U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's visit with the 173rd during the secretary's week-long trip to meet with European defense leaders.