Polish-US brothers in arms met in Prague

In 2009, Sergeant Corey Speck of US Army saved the life of Polish Corporal Marcin Kulas in Afghanistan. Both soldiers met in Prague during the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of joining NATO by Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary.

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On March 12, 1999, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary joined NATO as the first three countries of the former Warsaw Pact and communist bloc.

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Their first meeting occurred in extremely dramatic circumstances. An eight-man patrol of Polish troops lead by Cpl. Kulas was called to assist US soldiers under attack by Taliban forces. One Polish soldier died in the fight, four were wounded.

Cpl. Kulas was among the injured. Sgt. Speck administered first aid and carried him out of the battlefield. “I was reborn. Now my dreams have come true. It has taken ten years. Now I have a brother in the US,” the Polish soldier said.

“On September 9, 2009, I did not know any of Polish soldiers. Before the day was out, we became friends for life. I could not survive Afghanistan without my buddies. Soldiers of our unit cooperated very closely. We were in many complicated situations and I would not make it home without their support and friendship,” Sgt. Speck said.

At the end of Monday’s meeting in Prague, he took off his chain with dog tags and a grenade pin and gave it to Cpl. Kulas. Sgt. Speck said that he would not take it off until the end of his service, but now he is a civilian and could hand it to his Polish colleague.

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The meeting of Afghanistan veterans in Prague took place a day before the 20th anniversary Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary joining NATO. The event was organised by the Polish Institute in Prague.

The event was attended by the Defence Ministers of Poland and Czech Republic, Mariusz Błaszczak and Lubomír Metnar.

“Over 20 years many things happened and this story of two soldiers shows how we support each other in NATO,” Mr Błaszczak said.

The Czech minister called the soldiers taking part in missions heroes. He pointed out that the 20th anniversary of joining NATO is an important moment for both Polish and Czech troopers.