A service member teaches a girl how to throw a football at the Project Romania Rescue’s Casa Anna house in Valu Lui Traian, Romania May 18 2019. About a dozen service members stationed at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, visited Project Romania Rescue, an orphanage and community service center, to spend time with the children and engage with the community. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Erica Earl.
U.S. service members visit Romanian orphanage
VALU LUI TRAIAN, Romania— Children at Project Romania Rescue laughed as they climbed on the shoulders and ran around the feet of visiting service members. The kids greeted their visitors with raised arms, asking to be lifted up, and sent footballs and soccer balls flying through the air in anticipation of a day of play.
About a dozen service members stationed at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania visited the orphanage in Valu Lui Traian, Romania May 18, 2019 to spend time with the children.
“They want to feel accepted by others,” said Marian Nicusor Serban, the executive director of Project Romania Rescue. “When people come to visit, they feel that others are caring and thinking about them and that they have value.”
Service members played sports and ate lunch with the children, and even set up a zip line in a nearby park.
While it was the first trip to Project Romania Rescue for some of the volunteers, Serban said the center has had a partnership with MKAB for around 10 years.
An American missionary founded Project Romania Rescue over 20 years ago. Serban said the center has cultivated and maintained a strong relationship with the base, visiting Americans and other local community service organizations.
Project Romania Rescue is comprised of Casa Anna and Casa Benjamin, residential centers for girls and boys, respectively, under the age of 18.
Hiriczko Mihaela Florentina, a volunteer nurse and mother figure for the children at Project Romania Rescue, said she wants the center to feel like a family home for the children who live there.
“These children come to us with stories that are not all happy,” Florentina said. “It is harder than a normal family, but we don’t want this place to feel like an orphanage. This is their home, and we are their family.”
In addition to the two residential houses, Project Romania Rescue offers a transition assistance program once the children reach the age of 18, as well as an after school program for children in the community and summer camps for low-income families.
Major Peter Burfeind, the chaplain for MKAB, said both the children and the service members enjoy the time spent together.
“It’s good for service members to take a break from their routines and spend time with the kids, and it’s good for community,” Burfeind said.
After long months of preparation, USAG Ansbach officially took over responsibility for two sites in Eastern Europe in July 2017. USAG Ansbach provides base operations in support of the Eastern European mission. The two sites are the air base Mihail Kogălniceanu in Romania, also known as MK, and Novo Selo, a training area in Bulgaria.
MIHAIL KOGANICEAU (MK) AIR BASE ROMANIA
The air base at Mihail Koganiceau, better known as "MK" has been in use by the U.S. military since 1999. In 2003, it was one of four Romanian military facilities used by U.S. military forces as a staging area for the invasion of and ongoing counter-insurgency efforts in there. Since then it has become one of the main operating bases of United States Army Europe's Joint Task Force East (JTF-E), a rotating task force initially to be provided by the U.S. 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which was eventually grow to a brigade sized force. The JTF-E concept has been reduced to the Army-only Task Force East, but the base still retains an important role, given added weight by the 2014 Crimean crisis. As of 2009 the U.S. has spent $48 million upgrading the base. In that same year the U.S. began operating a Permanent Forward Operating Site (PFOS). Currently MK is home to the 863rd Helicopter squadron which operates IAR-330L's, and the U.S. Army 21st Theater Sustainment Command and Air Force 780th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron are responsible for U.S. operations
BN/CO HQ, Aid Station, Morgue, Barber Shop, Barracks, Coffee Shop, Commo Bldg., DFAC, EEO, Finance, Fire & MP Station, Gym, Kabab Trailer, Laundry, MWR, PSC, PX, Religious Support, Troop Med. Center, TSC, Wash Rack.
Airfield Capabilities: Runway 11,483 feet (3,500 meters) long and 148 feet (45 meters) wide. Rotor wing through C-5 capable.
Rail Capabilities: Side loading ramp.
Training Capabilities: Company-size maneuver training, live fire (MPMG, Sniper, CPQC range).
NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA (NSTA) BULGARIA
The Novo Selo Training Area is a major Bulgarian military training facility established in 1962, presently used by other NATO nations as well. The range has a surface area of 144 km2 (55.6 sq. mi), and is situated 45 km (28 mi) from Bezmer Air Base, and 70 km (43.5 mi) from the port of Burgas in Sliven Province, Bulgaria. The facility has its designated areas and sectors for tank shooting, and nuclear, biological, and chemical defense and reconnaissance training. The NSTA is highly appreciated by NATO experts and troops, and has become the favored site of annual joint US and Bulgarian troops exercises since 2004. The NSTA is among the joint US-Bulgarian military bases established according to the 2006 Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and Bulgaria. The US Army started in late 2008 with a $61 million investment in the development of new housing and other infrastructure for the U.S. troops training at the Novo Selo Training Area.
Novo Selo Training Area (NSTA): BN HQ, Aid Station, Barracks, Billeting, Commo Bldg, CMR, DFAC, Fire & MP Station, Fuel Point, MWR, PX, TSC, Wash Rack.
Airfield Capabilities: Single-fixed helipad with up to 5 additional LZs on or near installation. Semi-improved parking apron for up to 5 aircrafts.
Rail Capabilities: Side loading ramp.
Training Capabilities: Support live fire and maneuver of Bradley, Abrams, and Stryker Crews, Sections, Platoons, and Companies, as well as light infantry team through company.
Existing U.S. TC 25-8 Small Arms Ranges.