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Spain finds a casa at MacDill

by 2nd Lt. Erin Blanchard
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Editor's note: Citizens from more than 80 countries died Sept. 11, 2001 - innocent men, women and children from across the globe. Within hours of the tragedy, coalitions involving many nations assembled to fight terrorists. Some nations have helped openly; others prefer not to disclose their contributions.

As the Spanish flag waves above Spain's trailer at Coalition Village, its military members are busy inside helping the United States succeed in Operation Enduring Freedom. Spain set up home in Coalition Village in November 2001, just two months after the 9-11 attacks, which changed the United States and the world forever.

Spanish Navy Rear Admiral Gonzalo Rodriquez, Spanish Coalition Village commander said, "The war on terrorism is a war Spain is very interested in. We have suffered it (terrorism) for a long time. I believe the war on terrorism is a war that can only be conquered through united forces. It is a new kind of war and cannot be fought by conventional means, and we all need to be imaginative."

Spain is contributing fighting services, which include troops, ships and aircraft to U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.

About 1,000 military personnel from Spain's navy, army and air force are involved, said Gonzalez. Eight Spanish military members are stationed at Coalition Village, according to Spanish Air Force Maj. Fernando Aquilar, a cargo pilot. Six are officers and two noncommissioned officers, each here for three-month rotations before being replaced.

"Our families are welcome to join us while we are stationed here, but usually they just come to the U.S. for a visit," he said.

Rodriquez said serving in Coalition Village with about 50 other countries is an experience of a lifetime.

"This is an extremely interesting period of my life," he said. " It is a real privilege for us to be serving with the U.S. Coalition Village is a great idea; it demonstrates good will and proof that working together gives you strength." Although Spain is thousands of miles away, Rodriquez said the coalition soldiers feel close to home here in the Tampa Bay community.

"The city is lively, and there is not much of a language barrier," he said. "People have accepted us with open arms."

"The base is amazing for us," Rodriquez said. "There are two things about MacDill that make it a special place for us: the facilities and the weather. There are numerous facilities we appreciate such as the restaurants, the gym, the golf course and the beach. The weather is also a blessing."




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