HomeNewsArticle Display

Contingency response Airmen assist in Wake Island storm recovery

Wake Island, pictured as viewed from the north, was completely evacuated July 15, 2015, in preparation for Typhoon Halola closing in on the small atoll. A team with the 36th Contingency Response Group deployed from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to the atoll July 20, 2015, to assist permanently assigned airfield staff in storm recovery efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)

Wake Island, pictured as viewed from the north, was completely evacuated July 15, 2015, in preparation for Typhoon Halola closing in on the small atoll. A team with the 36th Contingency Response Group deployed from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to the atoll July 20, 2015, to assist permanently assigned airfield staff in storm recovery efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)

Wake Island Airfield staff and 36th Contingency Group Airmen prepare for departure in a C-17 Globemaster III July 20, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. A team with the 36th CRG deployed to Wake Island to assist in airfield storm recovery efforts after the atoll was evacuated a few days earlier in preparation of Typhoon Halole. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)

Wake Island Airfield staff and 36th Contingency Group Airmen prepare for departure in a C-17 Globemaster III July 20, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. A team with the 36th CRG deployed to Wake Island to assist in airfield storm recovery efforts after the atoll was evacuated a few days earlier in preparation of Typhoon Halole. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)

Capt. Clark Morgan, a 36th Mobility Response Squadron contingency engineer, surveys the pavement on Wake Island Airfield for cracks and other damage July 20, 2015, on Wake Island. A team with the 36th CRG at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, deployed to the atoll to assist in airfield storm recovery efforts, and surveyed the runway to ensure adequate flightline safety. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)

Capt. Clark Morgan, a 36th Mobility Response Squadron contingency engineer, surveys the pavement on Wake Island Airfield for cracks and other damage July 20, 2015, on Wake Island. A team with the 36th CRG at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, deployed to the atoll to assist in airfield storm recovery efforts, and surveyed the runway to ensure adequate flightline safety. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)

Master Sgt. Iain Morrison, the 36th Contingency Response Group superintendent of operations, plans and programs, guides Tech. Sgt. Randy Walgren, the 36th Mobility Response Squadron NCO in charge of aerial port operations, in moving drinking water rations July 20, 2015, on Wake Island Airfield. The 36th CRG deployed from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to assist in airfield storm recovery efforts after the small atoll was evacuated a few days earlier for Typhoon Halola. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)

Master Sgt. Iain Morrison, the 36th Contingency Response Group superintendent of operations, plans and programs, guides Tech. Sgt. Randy Walgren, the 36th Mobility Response Squadron NCO in charge of aerial port operations, in moving drinking water rations July 20, 2015, on Wake Island Airfield. The 36th CRG deployed from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to assist in airfield storm recovery efforts after the small atoll was evacuated a few days earlier for Typhoon Halola. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)

WAKE ISLAND (AFNS) -- Airmen with the 36th Contingency Response Group at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, arrived on Wake Island July 20 to assist uniformed and civilian staff in critical storm recovery efforts.

In anticipation of possible storm surges from Typhoon Halola, all base members had been evacuated from the small atoll to Andersen AFB. To allow the teams to return and airfield operations to resume safely, special tactics and combat search and rescue Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group were the first people to arrive on the island in the early morning of July 20.

Accessing the island per static line parachute drop, the special operators performed an initial survey of conditions while on motorcycles, that were simultaneously airdropped.

After being cleared for landing, a small team from the 36th CRG and two explosive ordnance disposal experts then assisted Wake Island Airfield members in re-establishing airfield safety and various services on the island.

"We are constantly training to open and stand up airfields that have no services at all, that's our core mission," said Capt. Christopher Weaver, the 36th Mobility Response Squadron assisting director of operations. "Specifically, in this case, we brought in a pavement evaluation team, which Wake Island Airfield does not have as part of its permanent-party personnel."

Wake Island is a coral limestone atoll made of three small islands, and has the longest strategic runway in the Pacific islands at nearly 10,000 feet. Operations were transferred from the Navy to the Air Force in 1972, and the current mission of the Airmen is to provide support for operations in the Indo-Asia Pacific theater as a refueling and emergency divert field for transiting aircraft.

The assessment team began their initial pavement evaluation with a visual survey of the condition of the airfield surface. The experts looked for cracks, potholes and other signs of deterioration, said Master Sgt. Iain Morrrison, the 36th CRG superintendent of operations, plans and programs.

After the initial survey, the team drilled holes on select locations of the runway. Using a device called a dynamic cone penetrometer, they tested the ground beneath the airfield's asphalt surfaces.

"Every location we tested out here on Wake (Island) turned out to be well above the necessary safety parameters," Morrison said.

With low elevation above sea level and a large lagoon directly bordering the runway, experts feared the storm may have affected the integrity of the flightline, yet the team could quickly and confidently give the runway their approval to resume regular operations, Morrison added.

"We had good, current information on this airfield, so our check went very smoothly," he said. "We simply had to make a few spot checks to make sure pavement strength was still there. Based on our tests, and given how strong it was, we don't have any concerns at this point."

From power generation to food facilities as the initial focus, followed closely by potable water supply, the Wake Island Airfield managers were able to quickly re-establish most station operations.

"The mission here on Wake Island has been conducted seamlessly," Weaver said. "All of the technical experts connected and worked well together."

While the safety inspection of the airfield is only the beginning of a larger effort to resume regular operations, Master Sgt. Yusef Saad, the Detachment 1, Pacific Regional Support Center, contracting officer and one of only four active-duty Airmen assigned to Wake Island, said the help from the experts of the 36th CRG was vital in expediting the airfield reopening.

"The support we received was important," he said. "Once we were evacuated to Guam they made us feel (at) home and were always there to lend a helping hand. With their help, we will be able to resume normal operations sooner than expected."

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @NORADCommand: #NORAD remains prepared to respond to security threats. We maintain ample capabilities to deter aggression and defeat att…
During the spread of #COVID19 we've modified operations to remain a #ReadyAF. https://t.co/w5PgP7YWV0
Huge thanks to all the medical Airmen and healthcare professionals who take care of us on this #WorldHealthDay. You… https://t.co/zrOdOrLAET
"Just like the American spirit, our mentality in the military is always 'can do,' never say quit, and never say you… https://t.co/vPfWUoqWFE
“Staying fit is not only crucial for Airman readiness but is also vital in reducing our risk of illness like COVID-… https://t.co/PPXyfjV4iR
Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine is training medics on the use of Transport Isolation System to move #COVID19https://t.co/xnRNB4Xbez
Dept of the Air Force guidance on use of cloth face coverings can be found at https://t.co/vIzKyRwp57 #COVID19USAF https://t.co/bPyuUUfIQv
RT @thejointstaff: #InThisTogether as a whole of America approach to #COVID19 Joint Staff Surgeon Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs shares a mess…
.@USAFReserve deploys medical personnel at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to support New York City after stops at… https://t.co/uZGajRGFlE
THANK YOU to everyone on the front lines against this invisible enemy! #ReadyAF #COVID19USAF 💪 https://t.co/rGbhX7mWuC
RT @PACAF: Within 72 hours the 735th Air Mobility Squadron loaded 31,063 lbs. of cargo containing PPE & med supplies onto a C-17. The 535th…
The Air Force has released guidance on use of cloth face covers. https://t.co/xe7kyznTfv https://t.co/hJCn4MM5lY
A 3D printer creates a prototype N95 face mask at Louis F Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy on Goodfellow… https://t.co/pKTYTmTC97
RT @cmsaf18: Let’s come together by staying apart. #SocialDistancing #COVID https://t.co/S9GACwKoq5
Join @GenDaveGoldfein and @cmsaf18 this afternoon for a virtual town hall on the Air Force Facebook page, 3:30 PM -… https://t.co/MhahC1fejt
Within 48 hours of notification, the @USAFReserve mobilized more than 40 doctors, 70 nurses and approximately 13 r… https://t.co/2RT2Or0XnR
RT @thejointstaff: We are all #InThisTogether to mitigate the spread of #COVID19. Read the latest @DeptofDefense guidance on the use of cl…
The taxiway was brought out of retirement and repurposed for this exercise as a landing zone, which is an area desi… https://t.co/rc71QlsXr4
RT @AirNatlGuard: Taking care of your mental health is important, especially during #SocialDistancing. Hear the @142ndFW's Director of Psyc…