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Soldiers from C Company 1/109th, New Milford, continue their peacekeeping efforts throughout Eastern Bosnia. The soldiers are part of the Pennsylvania Army National Guards contribution to NATO mission of stabilizing the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina, while the area rebuilds following the war from the 1990s. Soldiers from Susquehanna, Wyoming and Bradford counties are stationed at Forward Operating Base Connor, located about 10 miles east of the Yugoslavian border. For the next six months, these infantrymen will conduct patrols, provide security and assist the local authorities in order to provide a safe and secure environment.
Much of the former Yugoslavia was destroyed a decade ago when Serbians, Croatians and Bosnian Muslims fought for independence and power, a result of the fall of the communist government. Besides conflicts in Kosovo and Croatia, Bosnia suffered 200,000 deaths and over 1 million displaced persons. NATO forces got involved in 1995 after 7000 men from Srebrenica disappeared in the worst ethnic cleansing incident since WWII. Since then, the fighting has stopped and several war criminals have been captured, but the damage left behind is evident. One in three houses were destroyed during the war. Today, NATO peace-keepers are allowing refugees to return to their homes safely. The men from C Company are making that possible. SPC Bruce Traver, of Friendsville, believes that our mission here is very important. "I talk to the people who are able to return to their homes, and they tell me that it wouldnt be possible without us." SPC Travers thoughts are echoed throughout the region that C Company monitors, as new home permits by returnees has increased for the fifth straight year.
SPC Traver and the Pennsylvania Army National Guards mission in Bosnia will end in the spring of 2003, but the impression that theyve left behind will last a lifetime.
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