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Space

Airmen keep base operational amidst blizzard

Story ID 03-082
April 02, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Air Force Space Command News Service
By Airman Chris Smith
460th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Yep, young man, I guess there's some snow outside, but it's nothing like the Storm of '03 that hit Buckley.

What's that, young fella? You've never heard of the '03 blizzard and the havoc it created at Buckley? You young popinjay, I thought everyone knew about that storm. Pull up a seat by the fire and let me tell you all about it. Where are you going? I said to pull up a chair. My story begins at Buckley March 18. The snow fell for three days and was 40 inches deep in spots. Stop making those faces. I ain't making this up.

It closed the base for three days. It's hard to imagine that some operations kept things moving during that time, but it's true.

Most folks at Buckley just sat out the storm at home and waited for the word to resume work. But for certain squadrons, the work never ceased.

The 460th Civil Engineer Squadron was responsible for snow and ice removal from all base streets, gates and parking areas in priority order approved by the base commander.

One of the first dilemmas the CES faced was getting people to the installation, according to Chief Master Sgt. Bill Armstrong, chief enlisted manager of the CES.

"The snowstorm was the CE mission," Armstrong said. "In several cases, we sent snowplows off base to our snow removal member's homes, or streets near their homes, to bring them in for duty."

Once these military and civilian personnel were at the installation and on duty, they worked 14-16 hour shifts to get the roads clear and return the base to normal.

According to Armstrong, no one was allowed to leave the installation once here. The biggest obstacle they faced was making sure everyone was fed.

"This was our most difficult hurdle and a true problem," Armstrong said. "Our fire department, with the help of the snow crews and permission of wing officials, opened up the commissary and got our food."

After they got vittles from the commissary, the fire department made some chili and cornbread for those stranded on base.

Seeing that some crews lived off base, they had to find a place for people to sleep. Some slept in hospitality rooms in the dormitory, others on cots in the civil engineering complex.

"The men and women of the 460th CES who manned our fire department and snow control operation performed with the highest effectiveness and professionalism possible and ensured the base was kept open, even during the most severe parts of the blizzard," said Armstrong.

The 460th Security Forces also had to maintain operations through the treacherous weather.

People that didn't have vehicles that could make it through the snow did not come to work, according to Senior Master Sgt. Travis Johnson, security forces operations. This meant security forces already on base would have to cover for those not able to work.

"We employed all of the dorm residents and kept all off-base personnel on duty throughout the storm," said Johnson. "We set up a bivouac area in the unit where personnel slept when off duty."

They had meals ready-to-eat available for shift personnel. It wasn't gourmet, but they made do.

The men and women who worked during the storm kept the base going and made it possible for work to resume on March 21 and they had a positive attitude about the whole ordeal, too.

And that's the story of Buckley's Storm of '03. Hey, where are you going? I was about to tell you about the great prairie dog stampede of '07. You durned kids don't care about history.



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