Reservists help repair teammate's storm-battered home at Laughlin AFB

  • Published
  • 340th Flying Training Group Public Affairs

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Calendar year 2020 has been difficult. Especially for people who live in areas prone to savage storms, like Del Rio, Texas. In April, as the world struggled to deal with a global pandemic, South Texas folks also faced nature's fury, as the region was battered by monster storms that alternated between violent rain and hail and tornado-strength winds that destroyed buildings, tossed vehicles like toys, and uprooted legacy trees.

Like many in Del Rio, Reserve Citizen Airman Lt. Col. Wolfgang Van Aspe, 96th Flying Training Squadron, Laughlin Air Force Base, and his family were in dire straits when the April 27 storm peeled the roof off their house, significantly damaged other areas of the structure, and destroyed a substantial chunk of their personal belongings.

"It was bad," said 96th FTS executive officer Maj. Heather Fletcher, "but we're happy to report, there were no injuries!"

The morning after the storm, 96th FTS members and their regular Air Force teammates rallied to help the Von Aspe family, with Reserve Citizen Airman Maj. Tyler Sueltenfuss at the helm of the rescue effort.

"He was a stand-out," Fletcher said. "He took charge of the 25 or 30 volunteers, directing them on what needed to be done and how to safely do it. Thanks to him and a lot of hard work, the crew managed to clear the home of debris, cover holes in the ceiling and get most of their belongings to safety."

Ensuring the home was safe to walk through simplified processes, including damage assessment. According to Fletcher, the Von Aspe home experienced approximately $50,000 in damage.

While cheerful hands make quick work, food helps too. Squadron members pitched in, treating the work party to pizza and beverages, and several volunteers supplied the family with meals for several days to help sustain them through their challenges.