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Medal Parade for Peacekeepers

Szöveg: László Szűcs |  2011. február 10. 17:18

The formal “Welcome Home” ceremony for the 7th rotation of the HDF EUFOR Contingent that recently returned from BosniaHerzegovina was held on February 8 inside the György Klapka Barracks in Tata. Following a six-month tour of duty abroad, every soldier received the Service Medal for Peacekeeping.

A few days ago, 145 Hungarian troops returned from Sarajevo, BosniaHerzegovina, where they had been serving as peacekeepers in the last six months, as part of the EUFOR mission led by the European Union. The formal “Welcome Home" ceremony and the medal parade for the members of the 7th rotation of the contingent  who had been drawn from various units of the Hungarian Defence Forces  was held in the Tata barracks, since the majority of the troops serve with the HDF 25th György Klapka Infantry Brigade.

Maj-Gen. István Juhász, Director of Staff, MoD Defence Staff; Brig-Gen. János Huszár, Chief of Land Forces, HDF Joint Force Command (HDF JFC), and Zsuzsanna Robozné Schőnfeld, the deputy mayor of Tata were also present at the ceremony, where every member of the contingent was awarded the Service Medal for Peacekeeping. The troops were also presented with art objects and plaques awarded by the JFC commander.

"You have carried out an important task abroad. With the Sarajevo mission, you have closed a short, yet productive stage in your lives"  said Brig-Gen. János Huszár in his speech. The HDF JFC Deputy Commanding General added: “We are proud of you, that you have undertaken this six-month mission in order to bring peace to a country that recently  only one and a half decades ago  saw a terrible war and genocide. Today this country is relatively calm, which is also the joint success of diplomacy, the EUFOR, and the Hungarian troops participating in the mission."

Gen. Huszár emphasized that Bosnia–Herzegovina is an example of successful efforts to establish peace, where at the moment the job of Hungarian contingent is to keep peace as part of the 2,500-strong EUFOR in Sarajevo within Operation ALTHEA. Our country is participating in this peace support operation with a company-strong force and several staff officers.

“I am also proud of you because you have demonstrated once again that Hungarian peacekeepers are disciplined, qualified, and in cooperation with soldiers of other nations, they do an excellent job" – said the Deputy Commanding General of the HDF JFC who also underlined that the family members’ support to the soldiers’ service must not be forgotten either.

"Today it may seem natural, but we know that it is not! We know that the help of those who are at home behind us is important, so that we can have our daily achievements in the mission" – said Brig-Gen. János Huszár, who also told the troops that those having just returned from the area of operations have personally experienced that under the surface, tensions are still running high in Bosnia–Herzegovina. The wounds the civil war had burned into the bodies and souls of people are very deep.

At the reception following the medal parade and a march-past Maj-Gen. István Juhász said: “You know that almost 12 years after Hungary’s accession to NATO, the Hungarian Defence Forces are organizing more and more farewell and welcome home ceremonies. These are not only for the Balkans missions, because Hungarian troops are doing their tour of duty in fourteen countries on three continents."

The general added that the six months the troops had spent far away from their families and Hungary are a decisive stage in their military career. Soldiers on any mission have an altogether different attitude to camaraderie and to being responsible for each other. In the opinion of Maj-Gen. Juhász, the mission is also a test where soldiers give an account of what they have learned and how they can utilize their skills in a multinational environment.

“I believe all of you have passed this test!" – said the Director of Staff of the MoD Defence Staff, underlining that during the six months they had spent in the area of operations, the troops of the Hungarian contingent did a ’good job!’.

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László Szűcs
Photo: László Tóth

Last October, our colleagues at Zrínyi Media spent a week in Sarajevo with the 7th rotation of the HDF EUFOR Contingent. You can find their video report here

Photo: László Tóth