OCTOBER 18, 2018 – On the afternoon of Oct. 10, Hurricane Michael, a category four hurricane, ripped through Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and the surrounding area leaving severe damage through its path.
Airmen from the 821st Contingency Response Group, Travis Air Force Base, California, received the alert call the next day and within 12 hours, a small initial assessment team headed out the door via a Travis C-17 Globemaster III to assess damage to the airfield.
After surveying the damage, a C-17 from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, transported a larger contingency response element of nearly 50 Airmen. On board was also much needed equipment and supplies for the re-initiation of airflow and for the rebuilding of the base.
“Our main mission is to help restore Tyndall AFB by facilitating large support packages coming in from multiple organizations,” said Lt. Col. Troy Pierce, CRE commander.
Hurricane Michael sustained winds up to 150 mph, which significantly damaged every structure throughout the base.
“Our base requires extensive cleanup and repairs,” said Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander. “We need to restore basic utilities, clear our roads of trees and power lines, and assess the structural integrity of our buildings.”
In response to Tyndall’s hurricane destruction, the U.S. Air Force sourced a swift Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources package to help restore base operations.
A BEAR package has the capability to restore and repair many Air Force assets. With the motto, “ready when called!” it is a world-class team of diverse professionals from all over the Air Force providing mission-ready equipment for global power and reach.
As supplies continue to arrive, CR Airmen are controlling the air traffic coming in from various locations, offloading the cargo and moving it to a staging area in support of Hurricane Michael relief efforts.
Pierce commented on the base-wide devastation and said the rebuilding phase will take a long time.
“It’s going to be a slow recovery, but everyone involved is up to the task,” Pierce said. “You make it better each day, and like every large challenge, I know the response teams and base will recover in time.”
“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by Hurricane Michael,” he continued. “I know it will be emotionally challenging to come home and see the base not as you left it. We are here for you and wish you the best of luck as you recover from this catastrophic event.”
Air Mobility Command equipment and personnel stand by across the nation to provide even more support upon request.
“We recognize the world is unpredictable,” said Gen. Maryanne Miller, AMC commander. “Mobility Airmen pride themselves on the ability to continuously respond to numerous, simultaneous high priority missions on short notice while maintaining support for global combatant commands.”
By Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno