News>Manas AB and local Kyrgyz communities forge bonds of friendship
Airmen struggle against a team of Manas International Airport personnel determined to pull them over the line in a tug-of-war competition as part of Revolution Day celebrations Thursday, March 23, 2006, in Kyrgyzstan. The airport's secretary of security, Mamyrov Nadybek, invited the Airmen to participate in the games as a mark of friendship and mutual respect. The day included races, tournaments and strength competitions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Lara Gale)
Senior Airman Darrell Davis pounds out 20 pull-ups in a Kyrgyz sports day honoring Revolution Day Thursday, March 23, 2006. Manas International Airport Secretary of Security, Mamyrov Nadybek, invited the Airmen to participate in the games as a mark of friendship and mutual respect. The day included races, tournaments and strength competitions, many unfamiliar to the American Airmen. Airman Davis is with the 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Lara Gale)
Col. Bill Baird shares a glass of bozo (buh-zoh) with a family at a celebration in Jani Jer, a village outside of Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, March 22, 2006, after the family spontaneously invited him and other wing leaders to join their meal. The wing leaders were invited by Mayor Batyrlan Kulov to join his village in celebrating Nooruz, a New Year celebration in some Muslim traditions, after Colonel Baird visited the village during a new outreach initiative in February. The colonel is commander of the 376th Expeditionary Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Lara Gale)
Col. Randy Kee and leaders from the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron explain the KC-135 Stratotanker mission to mayors of local villages invited to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, as part of a new outreach initiative Friday, March 24, 2006. Colonel Kee is the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. James Bressendorff)
In Jani Jer, a village not far from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, Chaplain (Maj.) Mitchel Zygaldo reaches to shake hands with his competitor before horse wrestling, a Kyrgyz national sport. The chaplain and other 376th Air Expeditionary Wing leaders were invited by Mayor Batyrlan Kulov to join his village in celebrating Nooruz, a New Year celebration in some Muslim traditions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Lara Gale)
by Staff Sgt. Lara Gale
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
3/27/2006 - MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) -- With warm and milder weather, spring has brought opportunities for the base and local community to strengthen friendly relations.
Emergency responders on base pulled out all the stops to host officials and staff from the Kyrgyz Ministry of Emergency for an annual tour and barbeque March 18. The two groups had met previously when base emergency responders visited the ministry, said Senior Master Sgt. Gerald Johnson, fire chief.
“It’s important we take the opportunity to make these kinds of connections,” Sergeant Johnson said. “We’re very fortunate to be in a country where it’s possible.”
Each emergency response element of the 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group set up static displays of equipment, including tools and protective clothing. After presentations of each element’s capabilities, the group sat down together for a barbeque prepared by the fire department.
Col. Bill Baird, 376th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander and other wing leadership attended a festival in nearby village Jani-Jer March 21 as guests of village Mayor Batyrlan Kulov, celebrating the Muslim New Year, Nooruz.
The invitation came last month, after Colonel Baird arranged visits with the mayors of all the villages surrounding the base. He received a very warm reception in every village, he said. Some villages had not seen an official from the base for several years, though security forces personnel on saber patrols had kept communication flowing between villagers and the base.
Local mayors were invited by Col. Randy Kee, wing commander and other wing leadership for a comprehensive tour of the base March 23. Each mayor was officially welcomed as an “honorary commander” on base.
That same morning, on the soccer field outside the Manas International Airport entrance gate, American Airmen joined Kyrgyz military service members and airport employees for a sports day celebrating the new Kyrgyz holiday, Revolution Day. Mamyrov Nadybek, secretary of security issues for MIA, who works closely with Maj. Mark Anuramo, commander of the 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron here, issued the invitation.
“We are glad to support our American friends,” he said to participants. “We want to strengthen our partnership, and hope to continue this tradition for many years.”
Having such friendly relations with the local population puts Manas in an extremely unique position for this area of responsibility, Major Anuramo said.
“It’s an extremely good thing when we have a chance to forge real relationships with people, and share who we are as Americans,” he said.
Friendly interaction with the people and leaders of Kyrgyzstan is an important aspect of the 376th AEW mission, Colonel Kee said. The ultimate objective of our military operations here is to allow peaceful relations between all nations, and our relationship with the host nation here is part of that.