U.S., Russia Strengthening Ties Through Moscow Air Show
By Master Sgt. Mona Ferrell, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
ZHUKOVSKY, Russia, Aug. 17, 2005 About 100 U.S. military members and eight U.S. aircraft are playing an active part in the Moscow International Aviation and Space Salon through Aug. 21 at Ramenskoye Airfield here. And if the reaction from Sofia Saakyants, a member of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Response, is any indication, the American presence at the show is well received.
Air Force Master Sgt. Raul Garcia, a crew chief from the 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., speaks with visitors at the Moscow International Aviation and Space Salon at Ramenskoye Airfield Aug. 16. Eight U.S. Air Force aircraft and about 100 military members are playing an active part in the air show. Photo by Master Sgt. Mona Ferrell, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"I like the American aircraft and the people. You (being) here is wonderful," the Romanian native said. "It's very important that you're here. Ever since the Cold War ended and our two countries have been talking, ... it's much better. I think it's important that we be friends."
And that's exactly why the United States is here, said Robert Moore, U.S. European Command deputy director of logistics and security assistance.
"Our being here is extremely significant," Moore said. "It enhances the military-to-military relationships between our two countries, and it supports U.S. security cooperation policies with Russia. To see our men and women in uniform interacting, smiling and shaking hands with our Russian partners is inspirational."
Both Americans and Russians share that sentiment.
"We're glad that there's a cooperation of our different nations," Russian Lt. Col. Nickolai Vorobo said. "This (friendship) should continue for a long time."
The United States first displayed military aircraft at the Moscow air show in 2003, and in 2001 DoD participated with a technology booth. However, that doesn't mean the uniqueness of seeing U.S. military members here has worn off.
"I like the Americans, and I especially like the berets," Dmitry Chenstvov, a member of the Russian police squad, said. "I want to make friends with the Americans."
Forging ties through military cooperation is what it's all about, said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leon Limon, a KC-10 Extender air refueling specialist here from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
"Coming here is a dream come true," said Limon, who taught himself to speak Russian more than three years ago. "I have a lot of Russian and Ukrainian friends back in the United States, so to finally get to come here and see for myself what their country is like and to make even more friends -- it's unbelievable."
American aircraft showcased during the air show include the F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16C Fighting Falcon, KC-10 Extender, KC-135 Stratotanker and the B-1B Lancer. The B-1B also is performing daily aerial demonstrations beginning Aug. 18.
(Air Force Master Sgt. Mona Ferrell writes for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service.)