Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Impressions of American soldiers in Kosovo

Army Staff Sgt. Julio Martinez, a Puerto Rico National Guardsman serving here as a military policeman, recognizes that impact more than most. Martinez served on one of the first KFOR deployments here, in 2000, and remembers the devastation he saw: displaced people everywhere, homes burned, children on the streets asking for food."I see the big difference that's happened here," he said. "Now I can have peace of mind that things are going the way they are."

Army 1st Sgt. Charles Szewczyk, from the Pennsylvania National Guard, witnessed a similar phenomenon during the past year. As the senior NCO for Medical Falcon, Szewczyk works closely with Kosovar officials to provide medical assistance to the region."When I first got here, we'd put on a conference and the Albanians and Serbians would refuse to sit on the same bench," he said. "Now, they'll sit together and sometimes you'll even see them joke together. They're starting to see a goal."Szewczyk said he'll leave Kosovo satisfied that he's played a role in changing people's lives. "I feel good already," he said.

"My task force has had a chance to see what most of the other task forces don't get to see: how much we've accomplished."But regardless of how immediate their feedback, the KFOR troops agree that with few exceptions the Kosovars are happy the troops are here. "The citizens here really like us and want us to stay," said Army Spc. John Grissom, from the Texas National Guard.

Kosovo Force Prepares for Political Status Resolution

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