New Jersey military base is temporary home for Afghan refugees

Airman First Class Waverly Strong of the U.S. Air Force teaches English to Afghan refugees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Liberty Village, as it is called on the military base, is now a temporary home for thousands of evacuees from Afghanistan.

"There are days when I teach more of how to get by when they leave here because I realize now they are not going back to their country, they're going to be going to different states in the U.S.," Strong said. "So I figure why not teach them something to help them adjust a little easier to American life and culture?"


Afghan families get ready to depart Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Oct. 11, 2021. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The first group of Afghan refugees to be airlifted to New Jersey arrived in late August. These families escaped their homeland on U.S. cargo planes after the Taliban seized control of Kabul. McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is the first stop until they can be placed in permanent housing. 

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The U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center recently released pictures showing day-to-day life on the base. Some images reveal how families are adjusting to a new life in America. Others capture emotional family reunions. Some photos show how the children are adjusting and how sometimes servicemen and servicewomen can be fun. 

Airman First Class Erik Espinosa said being a part of the operation is an honor.

"Personally witnessing the growth and teaching here, it's nice — it’s nice to see that,"  Espinosa said. "It's not just for the kids, it's for the adults as well. They want to come and learn."


U.S. Air Force Col. Soleiman Rahel gives children candy in Liberty Village, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. (U.S. Army Photo)