TAMPA, Fla. (April 15, 2010) — Coalition partners and representatives from U.S. Central Command gathered at MacDill Air Force base her April 15 to offer their sincere condolences to the Polish Liaison Team after the tragic plane crash that took the lives of the Polish president, first lady and other high level military and political leaders on April 10.
Several CENTCOM and Coalition officials gathered Thursday to honor those lost in the plane crash that claimed the life of Poland's president and other top leaders.
The service was at held at the Base Chapel and was attended by more than 300 people, including special guests, representatives of the local Polish community (Priests of Mercy of God Polish mission St. Petersburg, Polish Center of John Paul II and the Polish Highlanders Association.)
The service started at 3 p.m. with a processional song followed by an opening prayer and an introduction of reflection given by the Polish Senior National Representative, Colonel Zbigniew Lenarczyk.
In his speech, Col Lenarczyk welcomed and thanked the participants for showing their deepest condolences and their sympathy for this unimaginable tragedy that hit Poland, taking the life of the Superior of the Polish Armed Forces, President of Poland, Lech Kaczy?ski with his wife among the 96 passengers of that tragic flight of April 10, 2010.
Maj. Gen. Jay W. Hood, Chief of Staff of USCENTCOM, opened his speech regretting being joined together in such a somber occasion. On behalf of General Petraeus, Commander of USCENTCOM, he emphasized the shock and sadness of all the people in the U.S. Central Command for the tragedy suffered by Poland and their friends.
“The loss of President Kaczy?ski, first lady Maria Kaczy?ski, Chief of Defense Staff General Gagor and many senior government leaders traveling with them in memory of 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre is a tragic loss and we grieve with you. The power of Polish national character has been toughened over the centuries through many challenges and hardships and this ensures that you will not only get over this tragedy but also a stronger Poland emerges," Hood said. The service concluded with the respective anthems of Poland and the United States.