Military Moves Air Fleet Around In Face Of Hurricanes
Just weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast region,
Hurricane Ophelia threatened communities along the East Coast,
forcing military bases to act fast.
As of Sept. 14, 48 F-15E Strike Eagles, three KC-135
Stratotankers and 180 people had evacuated from Seymour Johnson Air
Force Base, NC, to here. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC,
sent four C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and 45 people. Aircraft
and people began arriving Sept. 12.
"(This base) provides a safe haven for other bases to protect
their aircraft," said Col. Peter Oertel, 88th Operations Support
Squadron commander. "This allows the Air Force mission to continue
unrestricted and helps protect the investment in aircraft made by
During inclement weather, military aircraft often relocate to
avoid damage to valuable equipment. Ophelia drenched North Carolina
with heavy rain and high winds for three days. It was downgraded to
a tropical storm and was moving northeast as of Sept. 16.
"When you have $50-million airplanes apiece, you need to support
the taxpayers' equipment and that's what we're doing," said Col.
Mark Larson, 4th Operations Group commander at Seymour Johnson. The
base received only minor damage from the storm, said a base
The airfield here can accommodate up to several hundred
aircraft. Base officials coordinate with other bases, stations and
units throughout the Department of Defense as part of a yearly plan
to serve as host for aircraft and people when evacuations become
And when bases call, Wright Patterson is ready, said Col. Andrew
Weaver, installation commander.
"We've been ready for months," Colonel Weaver said. "In support
of our normal battle rhythm, we get ready a couple months ahead of