|Congressman Higgins Works for Return of Jamestown Soldier & Other Troops Stuck in Kuwait|
|May 8, 2008|
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) sent a letter to the United States Army yesterday expressing concern about military personnel facing lengthy wait times for transportation back to the United States after completion of their designated tour of duty. Congressman Higgins’ office was recently alerted to a situation where Captain Sharron Oleniacz, a Jamestown, NY resident, and over one hundred other service members, who were scheduled to return home last weekend, are held up in Kuwait awaiting transportation back to the United States.
“Our service members, many of whom have spent over a year on dangerous and difficult assignments, should at a minimum expect that this nation, they have so valiantly defended, will provide them with timely and efficient transportation back to the U.S. and the families they left behind,” said Congressman Higgins. “We owe them that respect.”
This is the second time in recent months Congressman Higgins was asked to step in after local military personnel were made to wait long periods of time for transportation back to the U.S. after fulfilling their assignments. In January Congressman Higgins worked with First Lieutenant Mark Giglio, who after completing a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq was stuck in Kuwait awaiting air transfer after eight cancellations of his flight out.
In Captain Oleniacz’s case, the airline scheduled to transport the returning soldiers has gone bankrupt and is no longer flying. Those stationed with Captain Oleniacz have not been notified when an alternate form of transportation will be provided.
Below is the letter Congressman Higgins sent to the Army:
May 8, 2008
General Arthur J. Lichte
Commander, Air Mobility Command
Scott Air Force Base
852 South Drive
Scott AFB, IL 62225
Since January, my office has received complaints from troops who have had to wait an unreasonable amount of time for transportation back home to the United States. In January, I worked with 1LT Mark Giglio, who after completing a 15 month tour of duty in Iraq was stuck in Kuwait awaiting air transfer after eight cancellations of his flight out. While he thankfully secured a flight home soon after contacting my office, this week I again received notice of a soldier, CPT Sharron Oleniacz, who is waiting in Kuwait with no indication of when she will be able to return home.
It is of the utmost importance that the United States government ensures the expeditious return of service members who have completed their tour of duty. While some delays in air transportation happen, and difficulties due to ATA Airlines’ bankruptcy are understandable, repeated and lengthy delays are of understandable concern. The Department of Defense should and must do more to help our service men and women find alternative flights home.
My office is and will continue to work with the Army to do whatever it takes to get CPT Oleniacz home expeditiously; however, I also want to know what is being done to address the larger problem in a comprehensive manner. Any questions can be addressed to Jonathan Weston (202-225-3306) of my Washington DC staff. I look forward to your response. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Member of Congress
Washington, DC Office
Erie County Office
431 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Larkin at Exchange
726 Exchange Street
Buffalo, NY 14210
Chautauqua County Office
2 East Second Street
Jamestown, NY 14701