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Airmen bid farewell to Spanish forces at Transit Center at Manas

by Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

10/16/2009 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan (AFNS) -- Airmen of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing here held a ceremony to say goodbye to their Spanish counterparts as the Spanish Detachment vacated the Transit Center at Manas Oct. 13.

During the ceremony, the Spaniards paid their respects to their fallen comrades and fallen American servicemembers by laying wreaths in their honor at the memorial in front of the wing's headquarters building.

The ceremony honored 21 Spanish servicemembers deployed to Transit Center at Manas who died in a plane crash in 2003.

After the ceremony, which culminated with playing of "Taps," the Spanish servicemembers thanked Airmen at the Transit Center for their unwavering support before their final departure.

"It's been a pleasure and honor to have worked alongside the United States Air Force," said Spanish air force Maj. Miguel Oliver, the Spanish's Mizar Detachment commander. "We could have never completed our mission without the support of Airmen and the United States. We are heading to another place and will be operating from a forward support base. Even though we will have the support of other coalition forces, it will not be the same without the support of the Americans."

The Spanish air force detachment is departing as a result of not being able to secure an extension agreement with the Kyrgyz government, Major Oliver said.

The detachment, after its arrival at Manas in 2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, redeployed to Kuwait in June 2003. The current Mizar detachment was established here in 2004.

As part of the International Security Assistance Force since 2004, the Spaniards have contributed to the war on terrorism along with Airmen of the 376th AEW.

"All I can say to the U.S. Air Force is thank you," Major Oliver said. "There have been a lot of times that we needed Airmen's support, and they have answered all our needs and requests, even far beyond what we've expected. The U.S. Air Force has been an outstanding and tremendous support for us here, and on behalf on my country's detachment, I say thank you very much."

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