Local News

U.S. Servicewoman From N.C. Missing In Kyrgyzstan

Posted September 6, 2006 9:30 a.m. EDT

— A female U.S. Air Force officer and former Henderson resident stationed at the air base in Kyrgyzstan disappeared while shopping in the country's capital, the military said Wednesday.

Maj. Jill Metzger, of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, was separated from a group of servicemen while visiting a department store Tuesday afternoon and has not been seen since, officials at the Manas air base said in a statement.

The statement said 22 U.S. military investigators and logistics officers were searching for Metzger as well as the U.S. Embassy and Kyrgyz security and law enforcement services.

Metzger's father, John Metzger, said in a telephone interview from his home in Henderson that the family was waiting and praying for good news.

"We've got a prayer chain all the way across the nation, and it's our hope that God will return her safely," said Metzger.

Bishkek police chief Moldomusa Kongantiyev said footage from the store's security cameras showed Metzger spent 10 minutes in the store and later made two calls from her cell phone to a number in Bishkek. She turned the phone off at 9 p.m., Kongantiyev said.

The U.S. military has maintained the air base at the former Soviet republic's main civilian Manas airport since 2001, backing operations in nearby Afghanistan.

In 2003, Jill Metzger was stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany when she won the women's division of the U.S. Air Force Marathon, The Henderson Daily Dispatch reported at the time. She was a member of the Air Force-Europe team.

Metzger had run in every Air Force marathon since its inception seven years earlier, the newspaper said, and had run marathons in Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.

She graduated in 1991 from Northern Vance High School and was the first female to letter in four varsity sports -- track, soccer, basketball and volleyball.