Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Soldier with local ties helps strengthen post-Cold War relationships

MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, ROMANIA — Nearly 40 years ago, murals depicting the glory of the Soviet military were freshly painted at the Novo Selo training area in Bulgaria. Today, they are flaking, subdued images of a bygone era.

Now, artificial thunder echoes through the hills as a Bulgarian M1117 Guardian armored security vehicle runs the training course, mowing down targets with fire from its mounted heavy machine gun.

Army Spec. Daniel T. McLawhorn, son of Mack McLawhorn of Clearwater and Kathi Daniels of Largo, is faced with these reminders of the Cold War and the difficulties of conducting U.S. Army business in a foreign nation, as a member of Joint Task Force-East, a multinational force designed to make stronger allies of Romania and Bulgaria.

The operation hones the skills of soldiers from all three nations as well as helps the people living in some of the poorest areas of the two European countries.

"I'm in Bulgaria conducting joint training as a rifle team leader with a Bulgarian special forces company," McLawhorn said.

Soldiers from all three countries trained together in individual and company-level movements as well as with armored vehicles, a variety of weapons and combat lifesaving skills. They also practiced the coordination needed to clear a hostile urban area. They also took time to visit a number of villages and allowed children to explore the vehicles they were using.

"We're practicing clearing trenches, bunkers, buildings and other tactical techniques," said McLawhorn, who has been in the Army for five years.

Military training wasn't the only reason American service members were in Romania and Bulgaria. A group of doctors and nurses traveled to several villages around the training bases in both countries. The team worked with local health care workers and translators to provide screenings for optical and other health concerns. There was also a team of Navy Seabees helping renovate and upgrade local schools and medical facilities.

In spite of the language barrier and cultural differences, the American soldiers and their Bulgarian or Romanian counterparts got their messages across.

"It's new and exciting to learn about other countries and how their militaries operate," said McLawhorn, who was deployed to Iraq from September 2006 to December 2007.

Romanian, Bulgarian and American service members, like McLawhorn, are working to keep the relationships going long after everyone has gone home. The relationships built on this training ground will go a long way toward making sure the three nations can work together.

Jessica Switzer is an Air Force staff sergeant with the Joint Hometown News Service.

Soldier with local ties helps strengthen post-Cold War relationships 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 11:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Manahattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  3. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  4. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want

    Local

    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]