JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO–LACKLAND, Texas – As Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, recovers from the full-force punch leveled by Hurricane Michael Oct. 10, members and teams from across the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center are helping the base get back in the fight.
“AFIMSC gives commanders a single center focused on installation support,” said AFIMSC Commander Maj. Gen. Brad Spacy. “The Tyndall team has a massive job in front of it, and AFIMSC will stay engaged so the wing leadership can focus on the mission and the Tyndall team.”
AFIMSC Airmen are key members on two task forces the Air Force established to speed recovery and get the mission back on line. AFIMSC Vice Commander Col. Pat Miller leads Task Force Phenix to assess the long-term usability of facilities at the installation. Col. Seth Frank, chief of the AFIMSC Force Protection Division, commands Task Force HARP (Housing, Assignment, Relocation and Posture), which is helping Tyndall Airmen and families with housing, family living issues and relocation.
Other members of AFIMSC are serving on the task forces to deliver installation and mission support requirements, and others are providing reach-back help from the center’s headquarters in San Antonio and other AFIMSC locations across the globe.
Four days after the hurricane, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Geo Base team completed an aerial photo survey. With that information, Air Combat Command directed Task Force Phenix to assess damage, make a determination for potential future use, and preserve as many recoverable Tyndall facilities as possible while also clearing debris and making facilities safe for salvage operations, Miller said.
“Our goal is to get the Tyndall mission on line as soon as possible,” Miller said. “To do that, we need to assess the facilities in short order and develop a course of action. AFIMSC has the unique combination of skill sets that allows us to quickly and accurately make those determinations.”
Housing for Tyndall families is a major effort for Task Force HARP. More than 800 Tyndall families live in privatized housing at the installation, and early assessments indicated nearly every home received some level of damage, ranging from minor roof issues to complete destruction of the unit.
AFCEC manages the Air Force’s privatized housing program, and quickly coordinated with Balfour-Beatty Co., the privatized housing project owner, to assess the damage to the facilities. AFCEC Family Housing Division Chief Col. Michael Beach is at Tyndall as a member of Task Force HARP to work closely with the project owner to provide families access to their homes and belongings. Balfour-Beatty has committed to repairing and rebuilding with the rest of Tyndall.
“Privatized housing allows the Air Force to concentrate on rebuilding the warfighting component of the base, knowing that our most important assets, the Airmen and their families, are being taken care of,” Beach said.
AFIMSC support to the 325th Fighter Wing and Tyndall has steadily increased since the earliest hours after the monster storm pummeled the base when a handful of AFCEC Airmen fired up 17 generators to power emergency shelters and other critical facilities. Now, AFIMSC’s response had grown to encompass military, civilian and contractor expertise in virtually every aspect of installation and mission support.
Members of AFIMSC’s Detachment 8, which is collocated with Headquarters Air Combat Command, the Tyndall wing’s parent unit, are active members of the ACC Crisis Action Team. The detachment team provides an in-person liaison capability between the command and AFIMSC for quick determination of requirements for the recovery effort.
Air Force Services Activity has delivered more than 1,000 meals-ready-to-eat and other rations to feed the recovery team bivouacked in 60 tents at the installation. Services is also feeding more than 160 people working to recover a critical training range near the base.
Child and youth program coordinators facilitated Family Child Care support at no cost to thousands of affected families, and school liaison officers expedited enrollment of displaced children in schools so they could continue their education.
The Air Force Security Forces Center team shipped seven Skywatch towers and provided other equipment for the security forces mission.
Air Force Installation Contracting Agency awarded a flexible contingency and disaster relief contract within days of the hurricane to provide a variety of recovery capabilities, including life-sustaining services, damage assessments, debris removal, fence replacement and assistance in recovering aircraft from hangars.
AFIMSC’s Resources Directorate completed an evacuation entitlements guide and stood up 24-hour operations to ensure Tyndall Airmen and civilians continue to receive pay and entitlements.
To help manage financial impact to families, the AFIMSC resources team pushed to amend evacuation orders to reduce the travel radius required for evacuation, certified time cards for 844 civilian workers in two accounting systems, and advocated to authorize service members to temporarily store household goods at government cost until they report to their next duty assignment.
The Airman and Family Services Division is working with the force support squadron at Tyndall to get the official mail program back on track.
As AFIMSC continues its storm-recovery mission, the long-term rebuilding of the installation is taking shape. During an Oct. 25 visit to the base, Vice President Mike Pence vowed on behalf of President Donald Trump, “We will rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base.” According to Spacy, that rebuilding effort aligns perfectly with AFIMSC’s capabilities.
“AFIMSC was built to provide the capability the Air Force needs to rebuild Tyndall and we’ll see that mission through to completion,” he said.
While recovering the base fits squarely in the AFIMSC job jar, for many at AFIMSC the Tyndall connection runs deep. Three of AFCEC’s engineering directorates are based at Tyndall, as well as members of AFICA’s 772nd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron and support staff from Headquarters AFIMSC.
Hundreds of AFIMSC’s military, civilian and contractor support staff at the installation were personally impacted by the events. From tracking where people were relocated to determining damage to housing, the connection to the base underscored the urgency of AFIMSC’s response to the disaster, said Col. Tiffany Warnke, AFCEC’s director of staff.
“It’s a constant reminder that AFIMSC is part of every base,” she said. “We are part of the Tyndall team. We were there before the storm. We’re there now. We’ll be there as Tyndall rebuilds.”