Air Force Base Supports Tornado Victims

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- More than 40 individuals from Offutt Air Force Base recently assisted with clean-up and recovery efforts following a simultaneous strike of two tornadoes on June 16, in northeastern communities of Pilger and Wakefield, Nebraska.

According to reports, nearly 75 percent of Pilger was destroyed, two people were killed, including one child, and 16 were critically injured.

"I'm proud that we could play a role in assisting these communities as they work their way through their recovery efforts," said Col. Gregory Guillot, the 55th Wing commander. "We're not only members of Offutt (AFB), but also of the local community and, when something like this happens, we are honored to help our fellow citizens."

The relief efforts by the members of Offutt included collecting and distributing supplies to homeless survivors, debris removal and separation of household goods among other things.

"Helping each other out is the American way," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Hinsley, the 55th Contracting Squadron, who helped organize his squadron's relief efforts. "In any disaster there are many individuals who may need help and the military has always had an active role in supporting the community."

"This experience made each volunteer truly grateful and blessed to be able to give back much needed support to these communities," he said.

Other members of the base started a water and energy drink drive for not only the victims, but also for the volunteers who were working recovery efforts in the intense heat.

"Supporting our community is important because the smallest good deed can get people thinking as to how they can help as well," said Staff Sgt. Tad Mendez, a 338th Combat Training Squadron Airman, who helped organize the donation effort. "When one person puts themselves out there by doing something that is selfless, it inspires other people to help."

As a unit, the 338th CTS collected 213 cases of water and 80 cases of energy drinks.

"I have never been in a state where disasters like this happen and to see people from the base that may not have been directly affected by this disaster come out to donate as much as they did was so generous and selfless to see,” said Airman 1st Class Ashley Roa, a 338th CTS airborne mission system technician, who helped organize the donation effort. "I can't imagine something like this happening, but it's comforting to know how many people step in at times of disaster."

Another key contributor to the relief efforts was members of the Offutt AFB Fire Department.

"It was an honor to be called upon for the use of our specialized skills," said John Livermore, a 55th Civil Engineer firefighter.

The fire department was called around the city to cut numerous trees and structures into smaller pieces so it could be removed, Livermore said. They also assisted the local school by removing salvageable furniture, books and computers.

"We are humbled that we could help in this effort and we will continue to keep these towns in our thoughts as they recover from this devastating natural disaster," Guillot said. "We know they have a long way to go, but they can count on us to be good wingmen during their recovery."

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