'Dragoon Ride' convoy ends with troops back in Vilseck
By MICHAEL S. DARNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 1, 2015
VILSECK, Germany – After trekking more than 1,100 miles across eastern Europe, the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment convoy of soldiers made it home Wednesday.
The convoy — dubbed the “Dragoon Ride” — began 13 days ago at the conclusion of the unit’s three-month participation in the ongoing multinational training exercise, Operation Atlantic Resolve.
During the convoy, more than 600 soldiers and 120 military vehicles traveled across Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic and, finally Germany. Along the way, the soldiers stopped to train with host-nation military units and to interact with the local population.
It was the longest road march across Europe since World War II, according to 2nd Cavalry Regiment spokesman Maj. Neil Penttila.
Though training exercises between American troops in Europe and their NATO allies are common, most of the transport to and from the training sites is done less publicly.
But this was no ordinary troop movement.
Following Russia’s violent actions in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula last year, even routine events like convoys have become symbols for the U.S. Army in Europe, reassuring European allies that they would not face such aggression alone.
“We choose to road march back ... to show the capability of the United States Army in Europe,” said Col. John V. Meyer, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment commander. “To show that we can move back and forth between countries inside of NATO and to demonstrate that the United States Army is prepared to deploy, fight and win if called upon.”
It was a mission that from all accounts was a rousing success for USAREUR.
There were scattered protests as the convoy made its way through the Czech Republic, but even those were muted in comparison to the overwhelming support the troops say they received throughout the operation.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” Meyer said. “Every overpass on all the autobahns all the way back were lined with people flying their country’s flag and the United States flag. It was truly amazing, the turnout and the support. I think it really shows how those countries view the United States.”