They only have permission to hoist their flag on this Spanish base once a year

This is how the US military honors its flag in Rota in its only annual hoist

In almost every United States military facilities in the world, the flag of the bars and stars is raised daily. The Rota Naval Base, in Spain, is one of the exceptions.

The colorful Spanish detail of the caps of the destroyer USS Carney of the US Navy
Volunteers from the US Marine Corps help to rehabilitate a church in Spain

In the Agreement of Defense Cooperation between the U.S.A. and the Kingdom of Spain, signed on May 6, 1989, states in Article sixteen: «The bases listed in Annex 2 of this Agreement shall be under Spanish command. Only the Spanish flag and command insignia shall be flown over these bases.« The bases referred to in this article are the Zaragoza and Morón Air Bases and the Rota Naval Base, as well as the Support Facilities (IDAS) of Humosa, Inoges, Menorca and Soller and the Detachment of Torrejón. Within the US facilities in Rota there is a football field, more than half a dozen baseball fields, a golf club, a shopping center, bank branches, a naval hospital, cinemas, educational facilities and a residential area.

The agreement authorized at the Rota Naval Base a maximum of 5,250 US military and 746 civilians, including the «IDAS necessary for operations, administration, maintenance, communications, supply and storage of material and support services for a naval station, including a land, sea and air unit, a maritime patrol squadron, fleet reconnaissance squadron, detachment of aircraft-based aircraft carriers for temporary parking, military air transport terminal, deployment and transit of aircraft of the United States of America, berths and anchorages and logistics support of the fleet, construction battalion, communications naval station, security forces company, criminal investigation unit, detachment for an airmail terminal, command of defense contracts management, installation of information for ocean surveillance of the fleet, nav. to the fuel, storage depot and meteorological station.»

There are currently some 3,000 US servicemen and 4,700 Spanish military personnel at the base. The US Navy invests 153 million euros annually in the maintenance of the base, which makes it an important source of income for the area.

Exceptionally, the Spanish commander of the Rota Naval Base annually issues a special permit so that US troops in Rota can raise their flag on the occasion of Independence Day of the United States. In that country the celebrations of the 4 of July usually begin the eve with spectacles of fireworks and diverse parties. So, every July 3 is a special day for the Americans in Rota, because only that day can raise the «Old Glory», which is how they nickname their national flag.

Today, Captain David Baird, commander of the US Naval Station of Rota (NAVSTA), has addressed some words to the US personnel of the base during the ceremony.

The ceremony was attended by members of the three service branches of the US Armed Forces present at the base: the US Navy the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the US Air Force (USAF), as well as civilian personnel American who works at the base.

As seen in this photo, the sailors, marines and airmen of the USA have formed before the flag hoisted in the great mast located between the building of the Commander of Naval Activities of the USA and the Naval Hospital. I finish these lines wishing a happy Independence Day to our allies of the United States, an independence in which Spain played a decisive role.

Photos: US Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eduardo Otero.

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