By Cadet Alfred A. Rosiles, St Mary’s University
Last week, 21 Army ROTC Cadets from across the U.S. traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) on a mission to learn more about the history and culture of the country, while participating in language training with the Armed Forces of BiH. It was a short notice mission, with many tentative plans and possibilities in a country that has seen its share of strife and tragedy – and this mission was to be no exception.
Just days after Cadet Command accepted the invitation from the host country and the U.S. Embassy to send an immersion team, Bosnia experienced record rainfall in the northern portion of the country causing the worst flooding in more than a century. According to officials, numerous towns were completely flooded or cut off for outside help. More than 10,000 people have been displaced because of flooding and landslides. Many people lost their homes and have been living in shelters.
The Cadets were quickly re-assigned to a humanitarian aid effort, after receiving approval to participate in Exercise Joint Effort – a joint-force exercise involving military forces from Bosnia, the UK, Austria, Slovenia, Scotland, Turkey, and now, the U.S. Immediately upon arriving, they travel two hours to Eagle Base, in Tuzla, the headquarters for the exercise – the same location U.S. forces were stationed during Operation Noble Eagle. On June 10, the Cadets and cadre, some of whom were from the Georgia National Guard, were tasked out to go on their first mission since arriving in Bosnia. For the next two days, they worked with their Bosnian counterparts to load and unload boxes containing donated supplies, such as food, water, clothing and other useful materials. Working along side of Bosnian soldiers, the Cadets had the opportunity to provide extra help in a time of crisis and to learn more about how other militaries work together in real life.
Over the next week, the Cadets will continue helping move boxes of donated supplies, participate in debris removal in the city of Domaljevac – a city devastated by the floods, and help in a restoration project in two kindergarten schools damaged by the high waters and mud.
“I like that we interacted with both Bosnian military and Bosnian civilians, and that the fact that we were working together to accomplish a mission that is going to affect those that were effect by the flooding,”said Cadet Tiffany Turner, who attends the University of Hawaii.
At the end of the day all the Cadets said they worked hard to accomplish a mission that would help those who are in need. They added that they felt they had also created a bond with the Bosnian people, and military partners with whom they also worked. Cadets have tried to live out the Army Core Value of “selfless service,” responding quickly to an emerging need with their full energy and determination to do the very best – and all the while trying to be outstanding ambassadors of the U.S. Army to people in crisis.
Cadet Michelle Amparan, from the Universtiy of Hawaii at Manoa, loads debris made up of personal effects and building material from the homes of local people in Domaljevac, after devastating spring floods in Bosnia. She was working with soldiers from other countries on a multi-national disaster relief mission.
Cadets Joseph Erony, from the University of Delaware, and Haley Roach from the University of Dayton, wrap a pallet of relief supplies bound for parts of flood damaged Bosnia.
Cadets unload supplies and ready them for distribution to parts of Bosnia as part of an international relief effort in the region. The Cadets are on a Cultural Understanding Language Proficient mission to Bosnia to work with the Bosnian military on its English communication skills. But their mission was changed after devastating floods left the region in need of humanitarian assistance.
Cadet Joseph McGinley, who attends Valley Forge Military Academy, passes boxes filled with humanitarian aid items to a member of the Armed Forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Bosnian Minister of Defense Zekerijah Oshic’ and Maj Gen Jelec’ take time during tour of flood damage to get a photo with Cadet Tiffany Turner (U of Hawaii at West Oahu), CPT Noel Ethier (Cadre Leader), and Cadet Haley Roach (University of Dayton)