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Marines

Photo Information

Marines with the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron – 773, Det. Alpha guide a Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopter onto a C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana, Sept. 13, 2022. This was the first time the Marines from the HMLA-733 participated in the NATO days air show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Monet Villacorte)

Photo by Staff Sgt. Monet Villacorte

Reserve Citizen Airmen participate in NATO Days air show

29 Sep 2022 | Staff Sgt. Monet Villacorte U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve

Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 433rd Airlift Wing’s 68th Airlift Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron – 773, Det. Alpha, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana, participated in the 22nd annual NATO Days and 13th Czech Air Force Days air show Sept. 17-18.

This year, the 68th AS and the HMLA-733 Det-A helped represent U.S. participation and capabilities by displaying their respective assets; the U.S. Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft and two U.S. Marine helicopters, the Bell AH-1Z Viper and Bell UH-1Y Venom.

Several U.S. Air Force dignitaries were also in attendance during the NATO Days air show, including Maj. Gen. Bryan Radliff,10th Air Force commander, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas.

“The purpose of our visit here is to ensure that we have deliberate, professional and personal relationships with our NATO partners,” said Radliff. “The Czech Republic gave us the opportunity, through this air show in Ostrava, to showcase the capabilities of the U.S. Air Force and the great talents that Reserve Citizen Airmen bring to the total force.”

U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Danny Abrego, HMLA-733 Det-A quality assurance chief, said the members of his unit were excited to be in attendance for the out-of-country experience and training.

“The Marines are excited to get a taste of being in a different country,” said Abrego. “It’s not something we get to do consistently, so it’s great to have the training to improve our capabilities and deployment readiness.”

In the three days leading up to the air show, Reserve Citizen Airmen had opportunities to interact with the local community by participating in outreach events. They visited students at local schools and visited the Library of Ostrava - American Center and spoke with members of the U.S. embassy and local officials.

“It’s not something we get to do consistently, so it’s great to have the training to improve our capabilities and deployment readiness.” Gunnery Sgt. Danny Abrego, HMLA-733 Det-A

Lt. Col. Peter Stipetich, 68th AS aircraft commander and U.S. Air Force representative, said the unit’s participation in these community engagement events cultivated a solid relationship with our partner nations.

“The experience is two-fold; crew members are exposed to local culture by visiting locals and answering a multitude of questions ranging from airplanes to personal life in the U.S.,” said Stipetich. “The locals also share their own similar stories and express their appreciation through smiles and handshakes. It is that little something that leaves the crew fulfilled and completes the mission with fond memories.” 

NATO Days was sponsored by the Jagello 2000 Association and, according to the NATO days organization website at https://www.natodays.cz/, the air show is the largest and most significant security show in Europe.

Petr Zlatohlávek, Jagello 2000 Association senior project director, said his organization aims to raise awareness among the general and professional public about security policy and transatlantic relations.

Reserve Citizen Airmen participate in NATO Days air show Photo by Staff Sgt. Monet Villacorte
Guests walk through a C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft during the NATO Days air show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 17, 2022. More than 110,000 people attended the event over two days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Monet Villacorte)

“Our organization runs, what we call, public diplomacy projects or defense diplomacy projects,” said Zlatohlávek. “The organization is the primary Czech subject of public diplomacy in the security policy field and promotes the Czech Republic’s membership in NATO. It also participates in projects focusing on the European Union.”

Zlatohlávek said he considered the event an enormous success as this year’s attendance was over 110,000, following two years of low numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With its start in 2001, NATO Days’ intent was to present the local Czech and international community with its capabilities through demonstrations and static displays in the realm of security assets. In addition, the show also highlighted the resources of their partner nations, including the United States. The United States armed forces’ participation in NATO Days began in 2006.