Eastern Europe: Small Gestures – and Big Breakfasts – Make All the Difference

By Daniel Drummond

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed throughout Eastern Europe in support of our NATO allies. As the conflict continues and tensions throughout the region rise, deployed American troops can always turn to the USO for support in countries such as Germany, Poland and Romania.

Because, thanks to the generosity of the American people, the USO is – literally – always by their side, even if that means going to conflict zones.

Here are brief snapshots from the field of life on the front lines for U.S. troops in Eastern Europe. Specific locations of these Tactical Assembly Areas (TAA) have not been identified for security purposes.

How a Hot Meal Can Make All the Difference

The 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army is one of the most storied divisions in the U.S. military. They are known for their bravery, heroism and toughness. They also have a soft spot for hot pancakes – especially when they are served up by USO staff and volunteers as the minute the division arrived at their camp.

“The first hot meal these guys had was from the USO,” said the 82nd Airborne’s Command Sgt. Major David Pitt. “They bought all the batter in town, serving 3,000 pancakes. [The service members] had a hot pancake breakfast from the USO even before they took a shower.”

A service member at a Tactical Assembly Area (TAA) in Poland enjoys breakfast courtesy of the USO. | Photo credit USO Photo

With 30 years of military experience, multiple tours of duty and having led thousands of troops in combat, Pitt knows a thing or two about what it takes to maintain his soldiers’ readiness. In his opinion, the morale and resiliency provided by the USO plays a big part in that readiness.

“It’s continued support,” said Pitt. “It shows our soldiers that people care.”

Originally from the Bronx, in New York City, Pitt said that from the time they left Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, to getting into Europe, the USO has “been in lock-step with us.”

Overall, Pitt’s soldiers are holding up well thanks to the support and the close-knit community they have within the 82nd. When first arriving in Europe, many of the troops did not have phones due to security protocols, which allowed them to create more a bond among the paratroopers.

With America’s support for our troops via the USO and the strong relationships built within the ranks of the 82nd Airborne Division, morale remains high. They are prepared for whatever mission they are called upon to undertake.

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