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Two years after a flood, the 9th PSPTS reopens

Col. Heather Fox, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander and Lt. Col. Alisha Earls, 9th Physiological Support Squadron (PSPTS) commander, stands with other 9 PSPTS Airmen as they cut the ceremonial ribbon Aug. 20, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Col. Heather Fox, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander and Lt. Col. Alisha Earls, 9th Physiological Support Squadron (PSPTS) commander, stands with other 9 PSPTS Airmen as they cut the ceremonial ribbon Aug. 20, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the reopening of the 9th PSPTS building after a flood damaged the lower level of the facility two years ago. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana Londono)

A hallway in the 9th Physiological Support Squadron (PSPTS) floods Jan. 6, 2019, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

A hallway in the 9th Physiological Support Squadron (PSPTS) floods Jan. 6, 2019, at Beale Air Force Base, California. The 9th PSPTS experienced a major flood throughout the night and into the morning, causing damage to the lower level of the facility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Bugenig)

9th Physiological Support Squadron (PSPTS) Airmen finish cleaning up and finalizing their move back into their facility July 7, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

9th Physiological Support Squadron (PSPTS) Airmen finish cleaning up and finalizing their move back into their facility July 7, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. The 9th PSPTS were working out of a different facility for over two years after flood damage to their squadron in 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana Londono)

Staff Sgt. James Jackson, 9th Physiological Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment crew member, checks part of a full pressure suit  Aug. 4, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Staff Sgt. James Jackson, 9th Physiological Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment crew member, checks part of a full pressure suit Aug. 4, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. Each full-pressure suit is carefully inspected before every use to ensure the safety of the U-2 Dragon Lady pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana Londono)

9th Physiological Support Squadron full-pressure suits hang on racks Aug. 4, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

9th Physiological Support Squadron full-pressure suits hang on racks Aug. 4, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. The full-pressure suits are specifically worn by U-2 Dragon Lady pilots because the aircraft can fly at such high altitudes that in case of loss of cabin pressure, the pilots stay safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana Londono)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

After experiencing a major flood two years ago, the 9th Physiological Support Squadron (PSPTS) has finally returned home. 

On January 6, 2019, water filled the lower level of the building. The water  had completely flooded the PSPTS basement and the area where they operated the launch and recovery team (LRT) had two feet of water. 

Airmen took immediate action and were able to quickly adapt and overcome this by creating a temporary staging area  to continue supporting the mission.

“Through that whole process, relocating and standing up a second PSPTS home, flying did not stop, we did not take a knee,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Armstrong, 9th PSPTS aircrew flight equipment superintendent. “We had two ERT [en-route recovery team] jets set to launch the day of the flood, and we managed to get one of the jets in the air that same day.” 

Normally, operations allowed for six pilots to be suited up at a time, during the temporary move, two to three pilots were able to be processed through the LRT. 

Additionally, with the altitude chamber not being operational, the 9th PSPTS couldn’t conduct aircrew training. Those who would conduct training here had to go to various other locations to accomplish it.

“Trying to use another building that is not designed for our job is difficult , but we made it work because we had to,” said Staff Sgt David LaBarge, 9th PSPTS suit maintenance section chief. “It was basically two years of deployment operations,  on a larger scale of course, but now we are back and once the chamber is back online it'll be even better.” 

Even with all these issues they continued to do their job because pilots still had to fly and do their job.

Operating in altered conditions for more than two years took all the 9th PSPTS members working as a team to continue the mission. Additionally, the long awaited move back into the 9th PSPTS  building would not have been possible without the help of different groups from around the base, from maintainers to civil engineers. 

“The morale is so much better being in this space, because it is our space,” said Lt. Col. Alisha Earls, 9th PSPTS commander. “In the temporary building, we were tenants and although we tried our best to make it ours, it wasn't. It’s just like being in your home, so it has given us a sense of belonging and brought us closer together, like a family.”

The 9th PSPTS has been able to move back into their original facility and have resumed normal operations. Once their final section move is complete and the altitude chamber is ready for use, everyone will finally be together.

“To have everyone under one roof and working together is great,” Armstrong said. “We are all right there in our home where we belong and are moving forward.”