BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The 9th Physiological Support Squadron main building experienced major flooding the night of Jan. 6, 2019, and into the morning.
“Our Airmen came in for an early shift at 3 a.m. on Monday morning and they saw that this place was flooded,” said Lt. Col. Steven Dawson, 9th PSPTS commander. “In the operations area we had about a foot of water and our basement was totally flooded.”
The flood, which was caused by some nearby drains being backed up, knocked out power to the building. With the quick reaction of the 9th PSPTS Airmen they were able to resume U-2 Dragon Lady flying operations later in the day.
According to Dawson, this required them to create a makeshift staging area, collect all of the necessary equipment, sanitize and dry some of it, then organize it for use.
“The most impressive thing was how our Airmen were able to move the equipment around and make it functional,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kimberly Muhlecke, 9th PSPTS superintendent. “Our Tech. and Master Sergeants really stepped up. They were able to set up sections and, without skipping a beat, the pilots were able to come over here and get their equipment. Each day they have been improving on it and when you think this is how it’s going to look they find another way to make it even better.”
The Airmen’s resilience and innovation allowed pilots to get back to normal flying operations quicker than initially expected.
“It is almost mirrored to what we would do in a deployed location,” said Senior Master. Sgt. Jacob Longest, 9th PSPTS support superintendent. “They drew upon their deployed experience. They said ‘this is what we need, this the space we have to do it’ and they made it happen very quickly and seamlessly. We have taken what we have learned downrange and adapted it to here.”
The 9th PSPTS was actually able to contribute to the mission downrange even in the midst of dealing with the flooding by helping to launch an en-route recovery team (ERT) to an operational location.
“The flood threw everyone off their game a little bit, but I think the team was resilient and we were able to put together a safe and effective mission,” said Staff Sgt. Jared Schanen,9th PSPTS launch and recovery supervisor, who worked the ERT flight. “Our experienced Airmen stepped up and used their experience to facilitate the move.”
Since the flood, the squadron has received support from various units across the base and seen a continuing trend of normalizing operations.
“We deploy constantly in this squadron, so this is what we do,” Dawson said. “We can launch and recover U-2s anywhere in the world. This is a classic example of Airmen getting the mission done.”