AFCEC, Grissom Airmen supply Hurricane Irma relief

  • Published
  • By Douglas Hays
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs
As winds began to die down, and water began to recede from Hurricane Irma, members of the 434th Air Refueling wing, were ramping up to support the recovery efforts in Florida.

Initially five members of the 434th Civil Engineer Squadron deployed in support of hurricane relief efforts Sept. 11, 2017.

Electricians, pavement personnel, carpenters, water and waste water specialists, pest management and command and control specialties are on the short list of immediate needs, and 31 more are also scheduled to be sent to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida soon.

“Taskings and requests were coming at us left and right,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “In typical Grissom fashion we stepped up, sorted things out and came up with a plan to get things done.”

Initial requests came in over the weekend, with full scale plans and mobilization taking place on Sept. 11.

Members of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Contingency Equipment Management Facility began palletizing equipment for a C-17 Globemaster arriving just hours later. Before hastily loading the initial cargo and personnel for a quick drop at Homestead.

A return trip is scheduled to take additional passengers, and other gear to the storm ravaged area.

In addition to civil engineer equipment, additional gear including cots, meals ready to eat, and bottled water are also being prepped for movement.

Logistics personnel were scrambling to get all the items requested, while dotting ‘i’s and crossing ‘t’s to ensure personnel and equipment were forward deployed safely and accurately.

“This is just the first wave,” said Lt. Col. Kathleen LaBahn, 434th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. In addition to the CES members leaving soon, we anticipate 434th Force Support Squadron personnel, and perhaps some security forces and aerial port personnel and equipment will be sent as well, so we’re leaning forward a bit in preparation.”

“This is when our unit is at its finest,” Shaw said. “The Grissom industrial machine started turning wheels, and getting things done! It is so exciting to watch us roll.

More details about future taskings will be provided as they come in.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. Men and women from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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