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Barksdale provides shelter for evacuated Airmen, aircraft

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tessa Corrick
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The hurricane season is in full swing yet again. For the third consecutive year, Team Barksdale provided refuge to Airmen and aircraft seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma.

More than 100 personnel accompanied over 70 aircraft, such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., the C-17 Globemaster III from Joint-Base Charleston, S.C., and the T-1 Jayhawk from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., arrived here between Sept. 8-10, 2017 during a hurricane evacuation.

“It’s important to have a plan in place because a plan is something that sets you up for success,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Hargis, 2nd Bomb Wing director of Wing plans and programs. “When the weather comes or we have maintenance issues or a jet breaks, having a plan and reacting accordingly is what we do as Airmen.”

Planning helps prevent personnel being injured or killed and aircraft becoming damaged. Barksdale’s large runway makes it an ideal place for large scale movements such as a hurricane evacuation.

“Fifty-two aircraft came out here from Shaw,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Reid, 55th Aircraft Maintenance unit armament systems specialist. “You have to think how many billions of dollars that could’ve been lost if we wouldn’t have evacuated and it would’ve hit Shaw.”

With the projected but unpredictable path of Hurricane Irma, a last minute need for a safe haven was required. Team Barksdale was able to successfully adapt to those needs to ensure support for relocating Air Force assets.

“Steps needed to support our wingmen worked very smoothly and gave us the opportunity to support our East Coast Airmen,” Hargis said.

Team Barksdale simultaneously fulfilled its own mission requirements while ensuring the protection of the evacuated Airmen and aircraft. Protecting these assets is vital to the Air Force mission so Airmen are always ready, he said.

“Every Airman, every piece of equipment, every U.S. Air Force resource is important to the defense of our nation,” Hargis said.