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American, Honduran military leadership take ‘camaraderie walk’

By Staff Sgt. Austin M. May | Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs | Dec. 4, 2007

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras — SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras - For 25 years United States servicemembers assigned to Joint Task Force-Bravo have worked side by side with the Honduran military toward the successful completion of their various missions.

The cooperative efforts of the two nations have forged a working relationship that is evident in almost every office, workshop and hangar on Soto Cano. It was especially evident in the sky above the Iguana drop zone here as American and Honduran soldiers jumped together from a UH-60 Black Hawk for the opening event of Caminata de Coroneles Nov. 30.

Caminata de Coroneles, which means Walk of Colonels, was a camaraderie walk with top military leadership from both the United States and Honduras held in recognition of the upcoming retirement of 39 Honduran colonels, said Army Lt. Col. Gregory Jicha, JTF-Bravo Army Forces commander.

"We combined the walk with the airborne operation as a bit of an added bonus for the colonels and generals who came out," he said. "It's always good for senior officers to get out and see what their soldiers do first-hand."

A total of 19 paratroopers participated in the jump, and afterward the 13 Honduran Paracaidistas were awarded their American jump wings by Colonel Jicha and the JTF-Bravo commander, Army Col. Marcus De Oliveira.

Following the jump and presentation of wings, the guests of honor walked with officer and enlisted leaders from JTF-Bravo approximately four miles to the Army Forces' club for a barbecue and brief ceremony commemorating the event.

General Nelson Willie Mejia Mejia, the senior ranking Honduran officer at the event, said the Caminata was an excellent way to continue building the friendship between JTF-Bravo and Honduras.

"I'm very grateful to have been given this gesture from Colonel De Oliveira," he said. "This was especially nice for the colonels retiring soon."

The general said the communication between the Hondurans and Americans in putting the Caminata together was excellent on every level, proving that when people work together they get more accomplished.

He added the morale of the Honduran Paracaidistas was extremely high on the combined airborne operation.

"We're all very happy, very grateful for this ongoing cooperation," he said. "It really makes things easier, but more importantly we are building relationships; making friends.

"That's what it's all about," he concluded.

Army Master Sgt. Elva Marquez, ARFOR Sergeant Major, said the Caminata happens almost every year in conjunction with the retirement and promotion of a group of officers, and will almost definitely happen again next year.

The master sergeant said the events planned went off without any major interruptions due to the excellent coordination of the ARFOR Headquarters Support Command.

"It was a lot of fun, and the mission of making friends was definitely accomplished," she said.