Hurricane response shows what we’re made of
By Colonel Jeffrey Hancock, 439th Airlift Wing, Vice Wing Commander
/ Published November 21, 2012
WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- Overcoming adversity. It is the hallmark of the Patriot Wing and it's what makes us unique in the Command. On Sunday of the A UTA, a call came from one of our Reservists in New York City. Her neighborhood was hit hard by the hurricane and there was little relief in sight. The First Sergeants went into action. Within one day, they had collected $2,500. With the help of local volunteers, a truck transported supplies purchased with the funds to her and her neighbors the next day. The group was not looking for accolades. They did this to help a "family" member in need.
Hurricane Sandy impacted our Reservists and civilians both locally and in the New Jersey and New York areas during the B UTA. The Wing went into action Sunday afternoon and put the wheels in motion to evacuate seven of our C-5's, preventing damage to our nation's assets.
We hunkered down and together prepared the base for the storm's impact. Numerous people came in on their day off to help move equipment into secure locations, prepare aircraft for launch, provide continuous weather information, and ensure emergency management preparations were completed. Within three hours, seven aircrew were in crew rest for immediate launch the next morning. The continuous training and planning that makes us recognized as leaders in AFRC paid off. Together, your efforts defined "service before self."
This marks the third year in a row that Westover has been used as an Incident Support Base for the entire New England area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers have nearly 75 trailers, fuel trucks and support equipment positioned in the Dogpatch area. Base Emergency Management personnel, as well as Security Forces and other units, have supported their 24/7 operations. Maintainers have deployed to Phoenix to support relief missions as well as AE troops supporting those in need on the East Coast. At this writing, we've flown four hurricane relief missions to bring desperately- needed utility trucks, personnel and other cargo to the storm-ravaged East Coast.
You have all exemplified outstanding commitment to the Wing during these challenging times. Your efforts have received praise from our local U.S. House of Representative member as well as from Air Force leadership. Your actions - nationally and locally - make me proud to serve with you and in this Wing and epitomize your reputation as Leaders in Excellence.