28 years later, SAF/PA returns to Incirlik

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joshua T. Crossman
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

After nearly 28 years, the director of public affairs for the office of the Secretary of the Air Force (SAF/PA) returns to Incirlik Air Base.

Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, SAF/PA director, along with Col. Robert A. Firman, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa director of PA, visited Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Aug. 4, 2022. Ryder and Firman visited the base to meet with 39th Air Base Wing leaders, Public Affairs and American Forces Network personnel and to learn about the wing’s current operations and what they can do at Department of the Air Force and USAFE-AFAFRICA PA levels to support the 39th ABW’s success.

During the visit, they first stopped at the Spanish Patriot Battery Compound to understand the capabilities that the Spanish Patriot Unit brings to Incirlik and NATO.

“This base is absolutely essential from a NATO standpoint on the Southern Flank, and if you just look at the history of what this base has accomplished it’s a pretty incredible place, it’s a pretty important place,” said Ryder.

Ryder and Firman also received a 39th ABW mission brief to understand the Incirlik mission and how PA and AFN can support it.

“Teams like AFN are critical to [supporting Airmen]; they provide a unique capability to keep our Airmen informed. Not only from a morale standpoint but from a readiness standpoint,” said Ryder.

Ryder experienced Incirlik as a PA officer early on in his career, arriving here in 1994 as a 2nd Lt. and leaving in 1996 as a 1st Lt.

“I don’t think I fully appreciated [Incirlik] until coming back here today, just how important this assignment was to me from a developmental standpoint,” said Ryder. “It was the first time I had the opportunity to work with joint and coalition partners, it was the first time I had the opportunity to be a part of a joint task force. I had my first deployment from here to another joint task force. I had the opportunity to work with a host nation and learn about another culture; skills which have helped me in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.”

Despite all the developmental growth that Ryder took away from this assignment, none of these reasons are what made this assignment one of Ryder’s most memorable.

“…the most important thing was that I met my wife here who was also a lieutenant working in the 39th Operations Support Squadron as an intelligence officer and we’re still happily married 26 years later,” said Ryder.

The day of Ryder’s visit, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III released a statement naming Ryder as the next Pentagon Press Secretary.

“Today, I named Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder as the next Pentagon press secretary,” stated Austin. “Pat will fill a critical role, leading our efforts to provide timely, accurate information to the media, and through the media to the American people.”

Starting later this month, Ryder will serve as the first uniformed Pentagon press secretary since 2015, when now retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John F. Kirby, who currently serves as the National Security Council strategic communications director, served in the position while in uniform.