After the 9AM performance, we had an opportunity to go off base with Major O’Donnell–to a local restaurant called “Jim’s place.” This establishment didn’t match our idea of Kyrgyzstan, where we were told an average annual salary could total as little as $1,000.
Out at the back of the restaurant, there was a frozen lake, where we saw local families skating on the ice.
Group shot taken at the lake with our security escorts and the major. . . .
After our offsite excursion to grab lunch, we returned for our briefing with Colonel Christopher Bence–376 AEW Commander
and Master Sergeant Kevin Soltis–376 AEW Commander Chief.
During this meeting, we were educated regarding the range of functions provided by the base in relation to current campaign efforts,
a history of the base,
amd the local community efforts the service men and women put their spare time and personal funds into.
Another important element in the briefing was our introduction to the tradition of the “Challenge Coin.”
While explaining its heritage and how a challenge is issued, Commander Bence presented each member of the group with a Manas Air Base coin.
With the meeting over, we waited in the hall while Colonel Bence wrote a note to Lisa’s nephew, who dreams of signing up,
and we heard a few more stories from Chief Master Sergeant Soltis.
Then it was off outside
for a group shot.
After this meeting ended, we went to the armory to meet with Farnham (unknown rank)
and Staff Sergeant Harrington.
They gave us the rundown on everything–from the more common weapons carried by airmen, to tracer bullets and night vision. Anita and DJ Chicken George checked out the night vision.
Lisa interviewed our hosts for the documentary.
Leaving the armory with Master Sergeant Hinen, Harrington and Farnham came with us to to spend the remainder of the afternoon. Master Sergeant Hinen took us out to the woods in a convoy of hummers–so we could grab another photo opportunity.
Trust me–this is not a political statement–just an interesting contrast. :)
Our driver, Master Sergeant Hinen.
The view from the gun post on top of the hummer–I couldn’t help but feel very exposed up there.
Time to pose, people. Take your places.
All happy . . .
all serious . . .
Dj Chicken George bringing it.
Ready for his closeup.
Aldo, protecting the border.
You don’t want this long arm of the law pointing its finger at you. :)
Zeale–the only thing he knows how to do is bring it for every camera opp. :)
Zeale needs no coaching for posing–he’s got it.
We can’t have the lead singer slip. :)
Hey Anita–stop pointing that weapon at my head.
There–that feels better.
The entire crew.
Thanks to Jerry Sullivan, owner of Precision Camera, Austin Texas, for his generous sponsorship of my tour to the middle east.