MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – Tropical Storm Elsa gave McConnell extra guests on Independence Day, when MacDill Air Force Base evacuated KC-135s here.
Team McConnell flexed immediately to receive the aircraft and aircrews from MacDill’s 6th Air Refueling Wing.
“I’m extremely proud of the men and women of Team McConnell,” said Col. Nate Vogel, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “The team saw Tropical Storm Elsa’s forecast track and immediately took the initiative, identifying logistical support that McConnell AFB could provide. The team then reached out to bases on the east coast that may be impacted by the storm, ensuring they knew that McConnell was ready to support.”
Maj. James Tomlin, 22nd Operations Support Squadron director of operations, led the evacuation reception that began on July 4, 2021. Tomlin credits the successful evacuation to McConnell to the preparation done by organizations across McConnell including airfield operations for movement and parking of all aircraft, wing weather, security forces, lodging, vehicle operations, maintenance and transient alert for servicing aircraft.
“Having a great support team is one of the best things about being in the Air Force, I had an excellent team of 10 personnel that were part of something bigger than themselves or myself, it was our community and we got the mission done,” said Staff Sgt. Christina Reddie, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of ground transportation support. “That is what we do.”
Tomlin said that they were able to build a standby plan once the 22nd OSS weather team noticed the possible storm conditions could lead to MacDill evacuating aircraft, and then coordinated with MacDill. That pre-planning and communication allowed Team McConnell to be ready at a moment’s notice.
The 22nd Security Forces Squadron was also at work well before the first KC-135 evacuated from MacDill, with Mr. Bob Sanderson and MSgt Swen Swearingen working long hours this past weekend to coordinate the Defenders so all the extra aircraft were secure.
Approximately 80 personnel were able to safely come to McConnell from MacDill. Thanks to the fast acting on part of both McConnell AFB and MacDill AFB, the KC-135 Stratotankers were able to safely make it to Kansas and will remain until conditions in Florida return to normal.
The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1, and lasts through November 30, according to the National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center.