A unique NATO partnership

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa Groot
  • 703rd Munitions Support Squadron
If you were to research the Netherlands, you may find information on Amsterdam, wooden shoes or the numerous canals that flow through this small country located in northern Europe.
Not many people know we have a small team performing a unique NATO mission in the town of Volkel.

At Volkel, you will see U.S. Air Force personnel alongside their Dutch counterparts performing joint operations. One of these missions is securing the installation and its assets, and this is accomplished through the partnership of the 640th Dutch Security Forces and the 703rd Munitions Support Squadron Security Forces.

Two individuals who lead these entities are U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa Groot, who serves as the flight sergeant leading several U.S. Airmen, and Royal Netherlands Air Force Sgt. Michael Groot, who leads several Dutch security forces.

If you haven't guessed it yet, these leaders are also husband and wife.

It all started a few months after Melissa Groot arrived at Volkel Air Base from Montana.

"During my first few months at Volkel, I was learning a new job and conducting a lot of training with the Dutch," she said. "Everything we do here is done jointly so we have to be in sync whenever we are performing even the simplest task. During these training events, I worked with Michael a lot."

This joint training was highlighted during Volkel's most recent inspection where the Dutch security forces were rated "Outstanding."

The Groots got to know one another better while off duty through mutual friends. Their releationship began and eventually led to marriage -- the same year both were promoted into the NCO corps. After three years of courtship, the two were married in The Raadhuis in Uden centrum Oct. 12, 2012.

When asked what has been the best part of her assignment to Volkel, Melissa Groot responded, "Being able to work with and marry my best friend."

As Melissa Groot's tour in Volkel comes to an end, the next chapter of this story is yet to be written.

"There are a lot of unknowns," she said, "because Michael is in the Dutch armed forces and I am in the U.S. Air Force, but he has a job offer at Ramstein and hopefully there is a spot for me in Germany, or at least just a short drive away so we are not separated.

"This is our goal," she added.