Saint Paul, Minn. – On a Monday afternoon in November, the 210th Engineering Installation Squadron (EIS) received a tasking; send thirteen U.S. Air Force Airmen to Tyndall Air Force Base and help with Hurricane Michael recovery efforts. For the next couple of days, the squadron and support agencies from the 133rd Airlift Wing worked hard to get the team of installers and engineers ready for their assignment.
The Air National Guard has a unique assignment in which they support both state and federal missions. In the case of a federal task, most Airmen would expect to go somewhere in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command and have time to prepare. When a natural disaster occurs, like Hurricane Michael, Air National Guard units can receive a tasking support the federal mission and have a very little time to organize.
“[Hurricane Michael] was not our normal [federal] tasking,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Conrad Ihla, mission commander, 210th EIS. “With this being a disaster relief activity and outside of the state of Minnesota, I was extremely impressed with how quickly the squadron response was.”
Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on October 10, 2018. As a result, Tyndall Air Force Base lost over 200 facilities and the storm created an estimated 450 million dollars in damage. Undeniably, the team had a challenge on their hands when they arrived on November 4, 2018.
“There was some uncertainty as to what we would be doing,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samuel Nielsen, 210th Engineering Installation Squadron. “The hurricane did lots of damage; there were many places that we could be of assistance. One of the biggest jobs that we did was disassembling and moving three towers near a flight-line and reassembling them at another location.”
Throughout their assignment, the team of installers and engineers did much more than reassembling three towers. The group is credited with moving ten radio systems and placing them onto a 260-foot tower, installing two antenna systems onto a 300-foot tower and supporting a Weapon System Evaluation Programs training exercise.
“The team exceeded all expectations by overcoming significant challenges while driving to meet the mission goals,” said Ihla. “[We] are happy to be a part of rebuilding Tyndall and keeping its critical mission going to maintain our nation’s air superiority.”
Since November, teams from all over the Air Force have been working to reshape Tyndall as an Air Force installation of the future.
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