Gov. Wolf Reflects on Visits with Pennsylvania National Guard Troops in Lithuania and Poland

September 17, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today highlighted the second half of his trip abroad, including visiting with more than 500 PA National Guard (PNG) troops in Poland, and honoring the Tree of Life synagogue victims at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.

“Over the past week, I had the opportunity to travel to two bases where about 600 Pennsylvania National Guard members are serving,” Gov. Wolf said. “One in Pabrade, Lithuania, and one in Orzysz, Poland. I ate meals alongside of them, saw them train, and took dozens of photos with them. Most importantly, I got to shake their hands and thank them personally for their sacrifice.

“These soldiers are hard working men and women from communities of all sizes across our commonwealth. They are missing holidays, birthdays, soccer games, recitals, and anniversaries. And, we civilians owe them an enormous amount of gratitude.”

Gov. Wolf was the first American governor to visit the base in Pabrade Training Area, Lithuania, where thousands of PNG troops train alongside the Lithuanian armed forces as part of Pennsylvania’s 26-year military partnership with the country.

The 500 troops on a year-long deployment to Poland are engaged in work as part of operation Enhanced Forward Presence, working alongside their Polish allies to train for readiness in Eastern Europe’s ever-changing security landscape.

While visiting with the PNG troops in Poland, Gov. Wolf officially promoted Sergeant Kaleb Weaver, from Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania, a surprise to both Weaver and the governor.

“Sergeant Weaver is one of hundreds of Pennsylvanians engaged in security measures protecting our overseas allies,” Gov. Wolf said. “I was especially pleased to join him for this well-deserved promotion.”

The governor also visited Auschwitz-Birkenau where he toured the facility and honored the Tree of Life victims by laying a wreath at the courtyard execution wall and signing the names of the 11 victims of the October 2018 anti-Semitic attack as he did at the Holocaust memorial in Lithuania earlier in the week.

“This is a visit I wanted to make for a long time,” Gov. Wolf said. “And it fit well with my visits with the Pennsylvania National Guard members because it helped emphasize the importance of their work in Lithuania and Poland. The men and women of the Pennsylvania National Guard are overseas fighting to ensure that a hate-fueled atrocity like the Holocaust never again occurs.”

Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA, who joined Gov. Wolf on the trip, offered his remembrances of its importance to the PA National Guard troops.

“Our troops were very appreciative of the governor taking so much time out of his hectic schedule to travel to Poland for this historic visit,” Carrelli said. “We received briefings about their deployment activities, toured their facilities, and had lunch with them. The governor talked with many of the soldiers throughout the day and thanked them and their families for their tremendous service and sacrifice. The governor was also honored to promote a Pennsylvania soldier and was very gracious with his time as many of the soldiers wanted pictures with him. It was a great opportunity for us to thank our Guardsmen for defending our freedom; we are very proud of them all.”

Photos from the governor’s trip are available for the public on Flickr.

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