MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania --
While America was still sleeping, U.S. servicemembers stationed here celebrated the Fourth of July away from home with a day filled with contests, games and barbeque.
Marines with Black Sea Rotational Force 11 joined up with fellow Americans from the Army, Air Force and Navy to celebrate their Independence Day alongside Romanian base employees and military counterparts.
“Hopefully for [the Americans] it brings a touch of Fourth of July as if we were home,” said Army Col. Joseph E. Gross, Black Sea Area Support Team Director.
“It’s important for everyone involved in this type of organization to come together and share camaraderie and fun and the Fourth of July is perfect for that,” added the Chicago, Ill., native.
Festivities included sports competitions like softball, soccer and horseshoes; pie and watermelon-eating contests; a tug-o-war between the different military branches; and a dunk tank.
“It’s different being in Romania but it’s good because we have a lot of people and a lot of activities to participate in,” said Lance Cpl. Humberto Rodriguez, motor transport dispatcher, BSRF-11.
“It’s important that we celebrate today because it’s our independence and as Americans it’s something we should carry with us wherever we go,” added the Tyler, Texas, native.
This year’s event was the first time July Fourth has been celebrated since the new Land Forces base of MK has been built.
“I’ve been here for four July Fourths and I think this is one of the more exceptional ones and everyone had a great time,” said Daile Hall, the manager for Morale, Welfare and Recreation on base, and native of Trenton, N.J.
“It’s a great thing to be able to acknowledge what we sacrificed for this day,” said Hall. “We need to keep it a tradition to honor them and our country.”
In addition to servicemembers from all four branches of the U.S. military, Romanian counterparts and VIPs were also at the event to celebrate alongside with Americans.
“This is the first time I’ve ever celebrated the Fourth of July,” said Romanian Lt. Col. Constantin Arvotescu, commander of Babadag Training Area, “and I’m very impressed with the way [Americans] organized their Independence Day away from home.”
With the seven-hour time difference from the East coast of the U.S., by the time the games were played, winners were decided and bellies were full, Marines, airmen, soldiers and sailors in Romania were done celebrating their day.
“We are out here just doing what we do today; celebrating being Americans,” said Hall.
Black Sea Rotational Force is a rotational deployment of Marines to the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus regions of Eastern Europe to participate in security cooperation to build military capacity, provide regional stability, and develop lasting partnerships with nations in the region. BSRF-11 will be operating as a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force until September of this year.