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Airmen Keep Things Moving in Kyrgyzstan

By Sgt. Greg Heath, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

MANAS, Kyrgyzstan, Oct. 24, 2003 – A few hundred kilometers north of Afghanistan, in the small country of Kyrgyzstan, is Manas Air Base, where airmen are doing their part to ensure coalition service members can maintain the fight on the front lines of the war on terrorism.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Airmen unload cargo from a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. Manas is the main hub for movement of people and supplies for Operation Enduring Freedom. Army photo by Sgt. Greg Heath
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Airmen of the 376th Expeditionary Air Wing work 24-hour operations seven days a week, maintaining the vital flow of service members, equipment and supplies out of Manas, the primary hub in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We make sure they have what they need to keep up the fight down there, so there's no stopping here," said Senior Master Sgt. Ian Palmer, superintendent of the Air Terminal Operations Center, part of a unit that comprises members of the 60th and 82nd Aerial Port Squadrons from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. When anything arrives at Manas from overseas, the airmen transfer it from the larger cargo planes to the C-130 Hercules aircraft that take everything downrange.

The air base, which shares space with the host nation's airport, has missions going out every day at every hour, mostly to Bagram and Khandahar, where the cargo is then redistributed throughout the various outposts in Afghanistan.

Along with sending vital supplies downrange, the airmen also take pride in their handling of what they call their most precious cargo: the service members and civilians going in and out of theater.

"Part of our job is customer service," said Palmer." Everybody who comes through here is a customer, and we want happy customers." The unit has handled more than 15,000 passengers in its four months here, Palmer said.

For Staff Sgt. Charles Case, who works in the passenger terminal, taking care of service members coming out of Afghanistan is the best part of the job.

"I like to make the passengers as comfortable as I can -- make them feel like they're in a good place where they can relax and unwind," Case said.

Whether moving troops or sending them supplies downrange, the airmen are just proud to take care of service members, said Palmer. "It gives us a good feeling," Palmer said. "Everyone wants to do their part in the war on terrorism, and this is our way of doing our part."

(Army Sgt. Greg Heath is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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