Thursday, May 30, 2019
Lucas Borg and John Lorenz standing with Iowa flag

University of Iowa College of Dentistry graduates Lucas Borg and John Lorenz display an "Iowa" flag at Incirlik Air Base near the city of Adana, Turkey. Contributed photo.

By Jeff Charis-Carlson Iowa Now

Less than two years after studying together at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, Lucas Borg and John Lorenz found themselves last fall reuniting 6,000 miles from Iowa City as they began separate, yearlong assignments at Incirlik Air Base near the city of Adana, Turkey.

While many of their fellow 2017 graduates have been focused on establishing dental practices and treating patients, Borg and Lorenz have been serving anyone on the international base who requires emergent dental care—whether military or civilian, American or Lithuanian, Spanish or Turkish.

“Our patient base is clearly defined, and everyone makes it to their annual exams,” says Lorenz, a U.S. Air Force captain and member of the 39th Medical Group. “There are no finances or insurance to worry about, and any treatment we deem necessary they will receive.”

Built in the 1950s, the base at Incirlik has served as a strategic site in military relations among the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. In the 21st century, it became an important waystation in the air campaign against the Islamic State.

Since July 2016, after the failed coup attempt against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Incirlik became a restricted base. All families and most non-active duty military personnel were removed from the station and sent home. The remaining service members are not allowed to leave the roughly 5 square miles within the base’s boundaries due to safety reasons.