Izmir: Unique mission for unique location

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sara Csurilla
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
In the center of a metropolis lays an Air Force gem; a unit of Airmen assigned to the 425th Air Base Squadron, a geographically separated unit spattered throughout the city in various facilities taking advantage of its urban location in Izmir, Turkey.

Within walking distance from the Agean Sea coast, the unit deals with extremely unique mission requirements, but their ability to adapt ensures the mission continues to be accomplished.

"Our mission here is to provide support to the U.S. personnel at NATO, the office of Defense Cooperation, the U.S. Embassy and to support Çiğli Air Base and other GSUs throughout Turkey," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Marentette, 425th Air Base Squadron commander. "Ever since I got here, the people of the 425th ABS have exceeded every expectation I could have had, and it's obvious they are executing the mission seamlessly and very effectively."

The 425th ABS welcomed Colonel Marentette as the new commander June 7 and he said he's excited to lead his new team for the next year.

"My goal as commander is to lead my team to get the job done as well as possible, improve anything that needs it and ensure people are having fun while they're here," Colonel Marentette said. "Our families aren't here with us so high morale is very important."

With not even 100 Airmen working at the GSU it seems almost impossible that the 425th ABS could run like a large base. But the Airmen of Izmir demonstrate on a daily basis that it does, just in a unique way.

"We have everything that most large bases have," said Master Sgt. Anthony Hanshaw, 425th ABS first sergeant. "We just have a smaller amount of people to get the mission done. We have Airmen playing multiple rules in their and other career fields, offices shrinking and geographical challenges because we don't actually have a base to call our own."

An Airman playing multiple roles is the norm at the 425th ABS. The two medical technicians act as nurses, pharmacists, public health and bioenvironmental engineer technicians and basically every job needed to run a small clinic on a base.

Communications Airmen not only play the role of telephone and computer specialists but also handle all postal service for NATO and 425th ABS personnel.

The Airmen are actually spread out around the city just like the facilities.

In downtown Izmir there are several services stationed across the whole floor of an inner-city office building, to include a small gym, library, services office, security forces control center, medical facilities and several other offices that help support the 425th ABS and NATO personnel at Izmir. Airmen can also find the BX, club, commissary and chapel all located in various places in the downtown area.

"This really is a unique assignment," said Senior Airman Kyle Mullins, a security forces member of the 425th ABS. "There are times that our location can present challenges but for the most part it's awesome. I think it's one of the best assignments the Air Force has to offer. We're in a great location, we have great schedules and the Turkish culture is really interesting."

Challenges are always present when stationed overseas, regardless of any location. However, every Airman of the 425th ABS plays a vital role, making the mission successful.

"It's amazing that we get to put our footprint on this part of Turkey and foster ties with the local community here at Izmir," said Master Sgt. Cyndi Vice, 425th logistics readiness flight. "As part of the logistics section, we pretty much touch every aspect of the mission from contracting support, providing shuttle services, providing war-ready equipment and much more. It would be practically impossible to run the GSU without our services."

There are also Airmen at Çiğli Air Base in Izmir, a Turkish base, and at the NATO garrison that contribute to the mission.

"Working at Çiğli AB is a challenge due to the language barriers but the mission never suffers because of it," said Tech. Sgt. Jan Michael Ostertag, 425th ABS and unit fitness program manager. "This assignment is a great opportunity to learn every aspect of my career field. At any other base I would only be doing one part of my job. Here I get to work in all aspects plus I run the UFP. We are definitely doing more with less here, but we are doing it right."

Airmen have been stationed at Izmir for many years and even though locations have changed and the number of people have fluctuated, Colonel Marentette said as long as there is a mission here to accomplish, they'll be there to do it, seamlessly and effectively.