916 ARW Prepares for the Worst and Hopes for the Best

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mary McKnight
  • 916 Air Refueling Wing

With the exception of mission essential personnel, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base shut down normal operations Sept. 5-6, for emergency preparedness.

In response to Hurricane Dorian, the 916th Air Refueling Wing here, activated their emergency preparedness plan. Following the lead of the 4th Fighter Wing here, this makes the second time in two years, the first being in response to Hurricane Florence.

”Preparedness not only has been proven to save lives, but creates efficient mission accomplishment for Airmen in the 916 ARW,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Merrill, the 916 ARW emergency manager. “When making the effort upfront, preparedness mitigates the effects of hazards from natural disasters like hurricanes to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks.”

The 916 ARW emergency manager and wing commander were on the same page in regards to emergency preparedness.

“Our main priority is the safety and well-being of our Airmen,” said Col. Craig McPike, the 916 ARW commander. “They are our number one asset in the Air Force. Our Airmen allow us to complete our mission, without our Airmen there would be no mission.”

In the spirit of mission continuity the 916 ARW took a three phase approach with Hurricane Dorian on the horizon.

First, we repositioned our aircraft to ensure they were safe from the effects of Hurricane Dorian. Second, we focused on our Airmen, their families and the base infrastructure. Third, we maintained accountability of our Airmen and their families, reopened the base and began repositioning our aircraft, said McPike.

It is not the wing’s goal to instill fear of approaching hurricanes or other natural disasters, but to keep Airmen, their families and the local community informed so they are prepared to weather any storm. This is why the 916 ARW prepares for the worst, all the while hoping for the best.

With the support of leadership, Senior Airman Ian C. Shenk, a 916th Maintenance Squadron isochronal dock inspector, said he felt safe and as though he had an ample amount of time and opportunity to take care of work and home necessities, prior to Hurricane Dorian.

After putting the aircraft that we were inspecting back together and securing it on the flightline we were released to go secure our homes, said Shenk.

The wing accomplished exactly what they set out to do in respect to emergency preparedness.