As the Republic of Estonia celebrates its 98th anniversary today, U.S. Embassy personnel and U.S. Soliders from Iron Troop were just some allies celebrating this day with their Estonian friends, colleagues and the people of Estonia.
Over 70 U.S. Soldiers, a color guard, and four Strykers from 2nd Cavlary’s Iron Troop got to participate in Estonia’s Independence Day parade. Captain William “Joe” Vanderlip, troop commander, thought the event was “a blast!”
“It’s a great event to see all the different battalions come together and celebrate Estonian independence,” he added. “I thought [the crowd reaction] was great. Everyone was cheering. I had a few “Go U.S.A.” It was a fun time.”
This was the second time Specialist Marken Grenn from California got to participate in the Independence Day parade. He was part of the contingent that got to march last year when the parade was held in Narva. He says he’s glad he was picked again to take part. “I really love seeing the people, how much they love this, and all the energy they give,” he said.
The spirit of the crowd was so infectious that 2ndLt Hernan Vargas was given an Estonian flag from the crowd and to put on his Stryker. “I was looking at the children waving the flags around and I thought we should have a flag on our Stryker and show our support for Estonia.”
The parade also included some flyover by the Estonian Air Force and planes of NATO allies.
After the parade, the Strykers joined Estonian military vehicles for a static display, where the crowds got to see the equipment up close and talk with EDF and U.S. military personnel.
Troop Commander Vanderlip really enjoyed this part of the day because it gave his soldiers an opportunity to interact with the Estonian people. “They’re getting to see different parts of the country, to get them to understand what is really go on in Estonia, and see what it’s about and meet with the people and talk to everybody.”
For the troops, who came to the Tallinn after spending a couple of weeks at the EDF’s Winter Camp, it was a warm welcome and a great opportunity to celebrate democracy, freedom and independence with their ally, Estonia.