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Michigan's 119th Field Artillery assists clean-up of Latvian park

By MI National Guard | Partnerships and Programs


Members of the Michigan Army National Guard, 1st Battalion, 119th Field Artillery, volunteered their time during a training exercise in Latvia to do community service and help with the clean-up of a nearby park. The Legatne Nature Park, located about 40 miles from the Latvian capital of Riga, has a clean-up day once a year where members of the community gather to help make the park beautiful again.

The park is home to bears in need of a new place to roam. The place that the park administrators selected a location that needed repair. There were several man-made elements, including cement beams, leftover wire fencing, old tires and trash that needed to be cleaned from the area before the bears could be allowed to use this part of the park.

Clean up in the area was especially tricky due to soft, marshy ground, impossible for large equipment to get in. So the work had to be done by hand. This is where the Soldiers come in.


Soldiers from the 119th and the Latvian Zemessardse [National Guard] helped clean up the nature park by using their manpower to move the large concrete beams, and clear out the unwanted man-made elements from the bears’ new home.

“If it doesn’t come from nature, it has to go,” said Capt. Dave Bennett, of the Michigan National Guard. “I am glad I could help.”

The Soldiers of the 119th Field Artillery are in Latvia participating in Operation Summer Shield XIII. Operation Summer Shield XIII, is a multinational NATO training exercise whose participants include U.S. active duty Army, Reserve, and National Guard, U.S. Marines, and units from Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, and Canada. Michigan and Latvia have worked together in the State Partnership Program for 24 years.