Reporter's Notebook: Security still tight at airport, but tomatoes are juicy
May 3, 2007
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania — Airport security is never taken lightly in the post-9/11 age, as U.S. Air Forces in Europe Col. Steven Dreyer learned before Tuesday’s training.
Despite the fact that airmen were boarding their own aircraft, they were forced to go through security screening alongside members of the American and Romania press. Dreyer set off the alarm and received a full pat down from a security official.
The highest ranking Air Force official on hand who has been in Romania on and off since 2003 was ultimately allowed to enter the secured section of the largely vacant airport. “Luckily I didn’t bring my chain saw,” he said in jest.
George Washington Blvd. EastDreyer was here in 2003 when the U.S. military used this base as a launching pad for its northern front in the initial campaign to topple Saddam Hussein after Turkey refused to allow Americans to use its territory.
Approximately 9,000 special operations troops were airlifted from here to Iraq.
He coordinated roughly $25 million worth of infrastructure improvements to this base that included improving the runway, updating communications capabilities and repaving a main road that rings the runway.
The refurbished air base is now prepped to host a Joint Task Force East now in the works between the Army and the Air Force — complete with a well-paved ring road named after America’s favorite founding father.
Universal football analogiesRomanian air force Maj. Cristian Popovici fell back on a sports metaphor to describe the joint training between RAF Lakenheath-based F-15 Eagles and 86th Romanian air force base MiG-21 Lancers.
“It’s a great honor to have this kind of fighter here,” he said. “Everyone knows that training with a premiership team is much different than with a third-tier league team.”
Mmm, tomatoes and beerLt. Cmdr. Moise Daniel said hosting a hangar party upon the F-15 Eagles’ arrival last week helped forge strong relations between the two air forces before two weeks of fierce dogfighting.
“We had an icebreaker and had some beers together,” Daniel said. “We built some friendship first.” Daniel was also able to introduce the Americans to the finer things in Romanian life. “The tomatoes are very tasteful, and the girls are very nice,” he said.