In wake of Sandy, Airmen poised to ‘answer the call’

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Across the nation, mobility Airmen are assessing the damage left by Hurricane Sandy at their own Air Force bases along the East Coast and beginning the process of recovery, while also standing ready to answer the call for support of relief efforts from civilian authorities.

In the wake of the hurricane, Airmen at affected East Coast bases are conducting damage assessments and beginning the process of recovery. Damage estimates are ongoing, but early indications were that most of the bases have not suffered significant damage. Meanwhile, planners at AMC’s 18th Air Force at the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) are working alongside federal and state agencies to assess the storm’s broader impacts and position forces to respond to any call for help from civilian authorities.

As Hurricane Sandy made landfall, Mobility Airmen had already flown aircraft to safe locations and prepared aircraft that could not fly away for the coming storms.
 “By moving aircraft and crews to safety we were also preserving our ability to rapidly respond in the storm’s aftermath,” said Col. Carl Rahn, a senior controller at the 618th TACC here.

Aircraft and crews from bases in the path of Sandy like Dover Air Force Base, Del., and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., relocated to Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; and McConnell AFB, Kan. In addition, AMC’s rapid-response team of air mobility specialists at the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base MDL, sent an element to MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Aeromedical evacuation specialists from Travis AFB, Calif., Little Rock AFB, Ark., and Scott AFB, Ill., are also prepared to provide East Coast hurricane relief if needed.

“As with any contingency it’s not the plan that counts but the value of planning. The better the mobility team can proactively envision any outcome, the better we can respond when the unforeseen happens,” said Maj. Gen. David Allvin, TACC commander. “We began working plans in anticipation of Sandy early this past weekend. That hard work ensured that despite the storm our assets remain available at a moment’s notice to answer any call for help.”

“For mobility Airmen, it is simple: we are here to answer the call when it comes, whether across the globe or here at home,” said Gen. Ray Johns, Jr., AMC commander. “In this critical time we stand ready to meet the needs of our nation and fellow Americans.”

If called on, AMC Airmen are prepared to provide airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation support, just as they have for previous hurricanes.
In response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav, mobility Airmen moved nearly 25,000 passengers, more than 3,600 patients, and delivered nearly 6,500 short tons of supplies to and from stricken areas. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, mobility Airmen moved search and rescue teams to Louisiana and stood up an operation to rapidly bring in relief supplies and rescue patients.

(Courtesy 18th Air Force Public Affairs)