Base welcomes American citizens from Lebanon

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The scene inside of the processing center at 3:15 a.m. July 21 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 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 young 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 base-wide effort." 

The 39th Logistic Readiness Squadron transformed their deployment processing center into a 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 and internet and a sponsor station.

"I was able to call my family in New York to let them know we are safe," said Mrs. Kang.

"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 Team 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 be as simple as it can."

The base will continued to lend a hand, working with the U.S. Mission in Turkey and the State Department, throughout the weekend when more than 1,700 American citizens arrived.

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