Family: Tyrone contractor stranded at Iraqi base

For one Tyrone family, the latest news out of Iraq is hitting a little too close to home.

“It’s very strange to listen to the news – as we always do – and to know it directly affects you,” said Maureen Drain, whose brother, Pat Drain, is among 200 hundred American contractors stranded at Balad Air Base, about 55

miles north of the Iraqi

capital, surrounded by militant Islamists.

Pat Drain, who graduated from Tyrone Area High School in 1968, had just returned to Iraq in April where he did informational technology work for Sallyport Global, Maureen Drain said.

Maureen Drain said as the threat of an Islamist takeover unfolded, she didn’t realize her brother was in danger until Wednesday when her niece sent her a message to say they were evacuating the contractors.

On Thursday, the family learned those evacuation flights never occurred. Getting information has been difficult, she said, with the family relying on news accounts for most of its information.

Not knowing what was happening thousands of miles away led to a lot of anxiety, worry and prayer, Maureen Drain said.

As Friday wore on, she posted updates on Facebook as she checked for any news about Pat and the other stranded contractors.

By late afternoon, she received some promising news.

“I just saw a link that the contractors are being loaded onto C-130s,” Maureen Drain said of reports Friday that the Iraqi air force was flying the contractors out to Baghdad.

After serving in Vietnam and retiring after a career in the U.S. Navy, Pat Drain then spent 10 years working in Iraq working for a contractor, his sister said. After returning home this year, the 64-year-old widower and father of one took another job and left again in April.

Drain said despite the ups and downs of the last few days, she’s gotten used to her brother being in harm’s way.

“He’s a big boy,” she said. “He’s been in a war zone for 10 years.”