Swanton, Ohio --
Representatives from the Hungarian Defence Forces visited the 180th Fighter Wing May 15 as part of a state visit marking the 25th anniversary of a partnership between Hungary and Ohio.
The Ohio National Guard and Hungary signed a bilateral affairs agreement July 14, 1993, as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program to promote to establish military cooperation and promote regional stability.
"This partnership enhances joint training between our military forces and builds cultural understanding," said Brig. Gen. Todd Audet, Ohio Air National Guard chief of staff. "It increases our capabilities and allows us to achieve mutual security goals."
"Over the course of this partnership, Ohio has sent thousands of Airmen to different exercises with Hungarian forces," said Chief Master Sgt. Thomas A. Jones, State Command Chief, Ohio Air National Guard. "These exercises allow our forces to learn from each other and develop lasting relationships."
After arriving at the 180FW, the delegation met with wing leadership and received a tour of the base from Wing Commander Col. Kevin Doyle.
"We're honored to have served alongside the Hungarian Defence Forces over the past 25 years, and we look forward to serving together over the next 25 years," Doyle said.
The delegates also attended a Lucas County Commissioners meeting at One Government Center in Toledo, Ohio. The commissioners presented a proclamation during the meeting, ensuring the partnership will continue into the future.
"This is a unique commemoration of a unique partnership," said Peter Ujvagi, Toledo city councilman, who also happens to be Hungarian born.
"This is not a symbolic partnership," said Pete Gerken, president of the Lucas County Commissioners. "This is a real partnership. The National Guard and the Hungarian Defence Forces have deployed together 10 times, and when people deploy together they form a bond stronger than any symbolic partnership."
Following the meeting with commissioners, the delegates visited with City of Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.
"We live in a global village," Kapszukiewicz said. "Toledo has taken its role seriously as a partner in international relations."
The day's events concluded with a luncheon and ceremony at a local restaurant, where the delegates were presented with mementos from community leaders and the Hungarian Club of Toledo.
"We have common values, we have a common history and we have common goals," said Command Sgt. Maj. István Kriston, the senior enlisted leader of the Hungarian Defence Forces. "The cross-training we get from the state partnership help us understand each other and helps prepare us for any future challenges we might face."
The State Partnership Program is managed by the National Guard Bureau and consists of more than 70 U.S. states and territories that have been partnered with nations around the world and each focuses on peacekeeping efforts, training exercises, leadership development courses and interoperability. The partnership between Ohio and Hungary is one of the oldest in the nation since the program's creation in 1993.