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Gateway To Afghanistan

Dispatches from Manas

Bonding with Americans

Bishkek lawyer Louiza Abvullaeva, decked out in leather pants, stilletto heals and a designer T-shirt, was among the estimated 2,000 Kyrgyz residents to visit Manas Transit Center during the air base’s annual Friends and Family Day on Saturday.

“I have a bond with American people,” Abvullaeva said in slightly fractured English after hugging and posing for pictures with Airman 1st Class Joseph Riemer, who was ominously adorned in protective gear as part of a demonstration of the 376th explosive ordinance removal unit. “It’s cool. In Bishkek, people would look at me and … not understand.”

The celebration is dedicated to the hundreds of Kyrgyz contractors and civilian employees working at the U.S. base.

Attending with Abvullaeva was her sister, Newton Bela, who said her daughter-in-law works as a pharmacist in Spokane.


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About this blog

Fairchild Air Force Base supplies 80 percent of the military aircraft and flight crews operating out of Manas Transit Center, a key hub along one of the primary NATO supply routes into Afghanistan. The small base, located outside the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, is barely 400 miles from the Afghan border.


Colin Mulvany is a staff photographer for The Spokesman-Review.

David Wasson is a deputy city editor for The Spokesman-Review.

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