August 29, 2012
by Staff Sgt. Stefanie Torres
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) — Osan Air Base weathered Typhoon Bolaven relatively unscathed Aug. 28, 2012, in part due to robust planning and preventative measures ahead of the storm.
The base entered Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) 1 in the morning, with maximum gusts of winds at 50 knots during the day. All non-mission essential personnel were required to stay in their primary residences and all personnel were required to be on telephone stand-by.
Airmen who normally eat at the base dining facilities received Meals-Ready-To-Eat, and sandbags were put in position around critical facilities to reduce the potential for flooding.
“Our primary goal was to make sure that the base was set up to survive any impact that the typhoon might have had,” said 51st Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Brendan Criswell. “The way we did that was to keep people in their residences, off the roads, out of the schools, to give ourselves free range for our civil engineer team and our emergency responders.”
Fortunately for the base, when the typhoon headed through the Yellow Sea to the west of the Korean peninsula, it was downgraded to a tropical storm — but heavy winds did create minor damage.
The 51st Civil Engineer Squadron was well prepared and worked during the storm to keep Osan up and running, said Chief Master Sgt. Tamara Olson, the 51st CES superintendent.
“They were outstanding,” Olson said of the squadron, which pulled 24-hour operations. “I am very proud of all the work that they do.”
Civil engineer squadron heavy equipment operators kept the roads clear of debris so mission essential personnel could do their jobs, she said. Airmen also repaired downed power lines and emergency responders were on stand-by.
“There were no power outages for more than an hour for the duration of the storm,” she said.
Engineers even began removing some trees in advance of the typhoon to mitigate potential hazards, she explained.
“Fortunately we didn’t have any injuries related to the storm, but our CE guys had a field day yesterday,” Criswell said. “They were out with chainsaws and getting the roads cleared as soon as possible. All the power outages around base were very minor. Almost all of them were back up fully powered within an hour.”
According to the command chief, the overall help of Team Osan was crucial to what could have been a potential disaster for the base.
“I just want to thank Team Osan,” said the chief. “We really appreciate what Team Osan did together and that everybody was safe and we came out of this storm with no serious injuries or damage.”
Flight operations at Osan resumed the morning after the typhoon passed through Osan following a foreign object debris walk of the entire flightline and taxiways.
Another tropical storm, Tembin, is expected to arrive near the Republic of Korea, Aug. 30, 2012.