PABRADE, Lithuania – "Sky Soldiers" of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade volunteered to assist an orphanage with some much-needed renovations here July 26.
“We’re going to scrape off this old paint and repaint these walls while the kids are on their summer vacation in Poland,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Chambers of Rouses Point, New York, 1st platoon leader for Troop A. “That way they can come back to some nice living facilities.”
“We’re here to facilitate any kind of needs they have right now, any kind of work they need done around the place,” said Sgt. David Rufenacht of Defiance, Ohio, acting platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon. “Right now a lot of their kids are on vacation and they don’t have a lot of manpower, so we brought over about 30 Soldiers to lend a hand. We’ve got people upstairs that are scraping paint and some other guys trimming hedges, doing landscaping, mowing lawns, things of that nature.”
“In any community – whether it’s America, Lithuania, Germany – It’s always good to give back because the community you’re there with, they support you, and right now the Lithuanians have been ecstatic and have supported us immensely,” said Rufenacht.
Soldiers of the 173rd are currently deployed to Lithuania as well as Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Romania to conduct combined training for Operation Atlantic Resolve. Operating with the host nations has given the Sky Soldiers the opportunity to volunteer in the local community at places like the orphanage.
“Being here in Lithuania, training with their Soldiers, it’s good to give back to the community and help out people that need help,” Rufenacht said. “That’s what we do. We’re here to help people. We’re here to help the Lithuanian military in their training, and they’re going to help us as well. There’s a partnership there, and so we’re going to help this orphanage with the needs they have.”
Operation Atlantic Resolve will continue in Lithuania for the foreseeable future to bolster the NATO partnership. Troop A will be in Lithuania for a few more weeks, at which time they will be replaced by a third rotation of paratroopers from the brigade.
“I joined the military to make a difference in the world, and it’s the small things that make a difference,” said Sgt. Master Collins, a medic from San Antonio, Texas. “If I can make one kid smile then I’m happy.”