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._mg_9882

Group shot taken at the lake with our security escorts and the major. . . . img_9896

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,_mg_9915-custom

a history of the base, _mg_9927-custom

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.”_mg_9930-custom

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,_mg_9944-custom

and we heard a few more stories from Chief Master Sergeant Soltis._mg_9951-custom

Then it was off outside_mg_9976-custom

for a group shot.img_9969_002_1

After this meeting ended, we went to the armory to meet with Farnham (unknown rank)img_9995

and Staff Sergeant Harrington.img_9992

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._mg_9998


Lisa interviewed our hosts for the documentary._mg_0208

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.img_0006









Trust me–this is not a political statement–just an interesting contrast. :)


Our driver, Master Sergeant Hinen._mg_0200

The view from the gun post on top of the hummer–I couldn’t help but feel very exposed up there.img_0039

Time to pose, people. Take your places.img_0041

All happy . . . _mg_0176_1

all serious . . .


Dj Chicken George bringing it._mg_0195

Ready for his closeup._mg_0189

Aldo, protecting the border._mg_0121

You don’t want this long arm of the law pointing its finger at you. :)_mg_0115_1


Zeale–the only thing he knows how to do is bring it for every camera opp. :) img_00661


Zeale needs no coaching for posing–he’s got it._mg_0086_1







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.

Hananexposures Middle East Tour sponsor Precision Camera - Austin Texas