Incirlik assists Americans fleeing Lebanon

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Patrice Clarke
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The scene inside the processing center at 3:15 a.m. today looked like a deployment processing line. Except these weren't military members waiting to go downrange -- they were the first American citizens who departed Lebanon and were processing into Incirlik Air Base.

Twenty-nine tired men, women and children processed through the base after a long boat and then bus ride.

"We traveled for eight hours by taxi out of Beirut and then came here," said Riman Kang, who left Lebanon with her husband and two children, ages 5 and 2. "I'm so thankful to be here and safe. Everything was bombed in Lebanon, even the mosques. I've never seen it that way. It's not safe anymore. I saw Americans in the mountains because the roads were destroyed."

"We have been preparing for this since we were informed Wednesday morning," said Col. "Tip" Stinnette, 39th Air Base Wing commander. "The preparation for their arrival has been a basewide effort."

The 39th Logistic Readiness Squadron transformed their deployment processing center.

"We set up areas for medical, the chaplain, a play area for the young children and the processing line," said Capt. Cassandra Antwine, 39th LRS fuels flight commander.

"The initial processing went quite smoothly," said Maj. Susan Airola-Skully, 39th Mission Support Squadron commander. "We didn't have any major hiccups and we were able to get the 29 people processed and then off to Patriot Village so that they could get some sleep."

After the American citizens processed into the base, they were taken to Patriot Village, a deployed housing area on base equipped with a medical first aid station, mini shoppette, community center with phones, Internet and a sponsor station.

"I was able to call my family in New York to let them know we are safe," Mrs. Kang said.
"We have the resources to help, so that's what we are doing," said Lt. Col. Dale Bruner, 39th Services Squadron commander.

One of the main resources Incirlik has is its people. The sponsor station at Patriot Village is available for the new arrivals if they have any questions or need assistance with most issues. They have a person to turn to get answers.

"The idea with the sponsors is to make this process a little more personable for them," said Janet Morrison, 39th MSS Airman and Family Readiness Center coordinator. "We understand that this can be a hard process and we want it to go as easy and (as simply) as it can."

The base will continue to lend a hand, working with the U.S. Mission in Turkey and the State Department throughout the weekend when as many as 1,400 American citizens are scheduled to arrive.

"This is a Team Incirlik community effort to help those in need. In our case we are a small village with a big heart," Colonel Stinnette said.