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Air Combat Command proud of Tyndall progress

Air Combat Commander

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, ACC command chief, commends Airmen while at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 7, 2018. Their visit to Tyndall AFB helped the major command get a firsthand update at the progress Tyndall AFB is making in its post- Hurricane Michael recovery efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The commander of Air Combat Command and command chief visited Tyndall Air Force Base Nov. 7 for the second time since Hurricane Michael caused catastrophic damage four weeks ago.

Nearly 2,000 military members are currently working alongside civilians and contractors to recover and reconstitute.

“The progress we have made in the last couple weeks has been encouraging and has exceeded any expectations that we had,” said Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander.

Gen. Mike Holmes, ACC commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, ACC command chief, spent a majority of their time with the service members and thanking them for their hard work and perseverance.

“The recovery efforts, these things you have done, these three task force teams, the mission support group, the medical group and the commander’s action team – I don’t think you could have done it any better,” Holmes said. “I really don’t.”

Since a number of missions, to include the 601st Air Force Operations Center, the 337th Air Control Squadron, the Air Force Medical Agency Support team, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the 53rd Air-to-Air Weapons Evaluation Group, the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron, Detachment 1, and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, will remain at Tyndall AFB, recovery efforts have shifted.

“The announcement that the secretary of The Air Force made last week became a forcing function for some of our timelines and how we prioritize our resources,” Laidlaw said. “Based on those timelines, we would like to have the mission support group and the medical group up and running in December.”

However, the three tasks forces stood up since the storm are still working hard on their initial goals and some are close to completion.

Task Force Raptor, comprised of more than 40 maintainers from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, have been working 24-hour operations to make all the F-22 Raptors flyable.

“With the jets almost all gone, we would like to downsize the Task Force Raptor team down to 13 maintainers, so they can return to Langley,” Laidlaw said.

Task Force Phoenix, comprised heavily of civil engineers, is concentrating on infrastructure and debris.

“They have completed 100 percent of their initial assessment of 693 buildings,” Laidlaw said. “They have removed about 40 percent of the debris from the support and flightline side.”

Finally, Task Force Harp is focused on the base’s most important asset – its people.

“They have nine personnel here and 28 at Eglin Air Force Base at the Tyndall Reception Center,” Laidlaw said. “The center has answered over 2,000 calls, completed 600 Transportation Management Office transactions, assisted 100 families with legal issues and over 300 families with schools.”

The relentless dedication of everyone has not gone unnoticed by higher leadership.

“We are really proud of what you guys have done as a team,” Holmes said. “It’ll be something you can look back on. You can be proud of the way you ran at the sound of the guns to help your fellow Airmen and your families when they were in need. I think the Air Force is really proud of you and I want you to know I am.”