Airmen return from humanitarian mission

BOX ELDER, S.D. – Airmen were on the front lines after a natural disaster in Florida. The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base spent a month at Tyndall AFB. They returned from the mission on Nov. 21.

Tyndall AFB was hit by Hurricane Michael this past fall. Tyndall is located on the panhandle of Florida and is subject to heavy storms.

Michael was a Category 4 hurricane and left northwest Florida devastated. The Air Force base experienced significant damage. The front gate was completely destroyed and many of the buildings were in unsafe conditions.

The squadron’s main goal was to restore parts of the base and take the burden off of the families that were displaced.

MSgt. Wayne Hageman has been in the Air Force for 20 years. He compares the damage to a war zone.

“I was deployed during the initial invasion of Iraq. That was something we bombed and Florida is nowhere near that. Florida was immensely worse,” said Hageman.

While they were there, the civil engineers established a power plant. When they got to the site, there were 27 low-voltage generators powering 90 tents.

The 90 tents were also known as tent city. They were set up for displaced airmen. Tent city was their main priority when they first arrived.

MSgt. Chris Holman gave details on the power plant.

“By establishing the power plant, we were able to take all 27 generators offline and provide more reliable power. We also ended up cutting fuel costs and consumption by almost half,” said Holman.

The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron said they are thankful for the opportunity to help and serve their fellow airmen.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News