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Shout outs for a great team effort!

  • Published
  • By Col. David Almand
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
What I truly admire about this team--both within the wing and throughout the base--is how we all come together to respond, fix, work around or help out with unexpected events! I especially admire the flexibility and teamwork I witnessed during the events of last week's "monsoon!"

We knew we'd be getting a lot of rain April 18, but 5.2 inches in 12 hours proved to be quite a challenge. Roads flooded out and parking lots became mini "Scott Lakes." As one of my employees said, "When we saw the dumpster floating down the road, we knew we were in trouble!" From the time we stood up the Crisis Action Team, our civil engineers and security forces personnel sprang into action and assisted with damage assessment and directing traffic off the base, and I'd like to send a few specific shout outs to these fine Airmen:

Master Sgt. Darrell Chrisenberry, 375th Security Forces Squadron: When employees on the south side of the base became stranded--not being able to exit the base via the normal roads--he conceptualized and orchestrated the plan to evacuate them via the runway/taxiways, allowing for a safe and orderly evacuation out of the most dangerous areas of flooding

Staff Sgt. Stephen Chen, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron, and "Basement Pumper Extraordinaire:" He led two crews of three and distributed equipment to pump out 680,000 gallons of water in the basements of seven buildings, reducing the other CE crews' pumping time by eight hours.

Staff Sgt. Alexis Thelen, SFS: As the Base Defense Operations Center Desk Sergeant, she fielded and prioritized all the calls for help, tracked areas of concern for flooding across the base, maintained real time SA of rapidly changing dangers due to rising water, and coordinated the posting of personnel at key locations across the base to facilitate the evacuation of motorists.

Senior Airman Zachary Phelps, CE: He led 27 Wing volunteers for the base-wide storm recovery/response; removed 125 tons of flood damaged facility materials/debris and helped return 50 facilities back to full service.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Knight and Senior Airman Jacob Thomas, CE: This team of two electricians responded in the midst of the storm to Bldg. 1948 to secure a light pole and street light damaged by a vehicle and kept it from falling into the street and other vehicles. They also isolated electricity at Bldg. 1510 when the electrical systems were submerged by water. Both remained after their shift for two hours to assist their relief team to repair the circuit, and restore power to a radio repeater, the SFS kennels and the family campgrounds.

Along with these outstanding Airmen, I'd like to thank all those who volunteered Friday morning and throughout the day...and all the families who also cleaned up around their homes and communities. Not only have our families contributed to the cleanup, but they also populated our Facebook page with numerous photos along the way that helped Public Affairs to document the conditions.

Our community cares about each other, as evidenced by the many posts that helped leadership communicate and share information. Because of the strong and very visible presence on our Facebook page, the Air Force authorized this as an "unusual event" so those affected by the storm damage could submit claims. All we had to do was point them to our Facebook page and they could see everything that was going on! Then our legal teams were ready to quickly respond by Monday and Tuesday with a process for inspection of POVs that were damaged! That's just one of the many examples of the quick work, response and flexibility our teams demonstrated during this storm.

In addition, staying flexible meant that we paused our ATSO rodeo that was being held that day. My thanks goes to all who put in a lot of hard work to make that happen and flow smoothly--and then make the right decision to postpone the event so we could respond to our changing weather conditions.

I hope most units still had a chance to get together for even a portion of Wingman Day on Friday--though I know most our time was spent to support all of our customers throughout the day. If you haven't had a chance to view the Wingman Day video and discuss those issues, I would encourage you to still carve out some time for that in the coming weeks. I'd like to thank the following people for sharing their thoughts in this video: Sharon Bruscato, Jack Rowe, Tech. Sgt. Chris Mavron and Airman 1st Class Derek Rich. They certainly had some wise counsel for all of us, and I appreciate the information they shared.

My intent is for us was to walk away with the knowledge that we are all in this together and to ensure that spirit of teamwork so well demonstrated these past few days continues as we press ahead to meet any challenge. Well done!