TYNDALL AFB — Relief and recovery supplies have been coming in to the base as the installation, devastated by Hurricane Michael, works to re-emerge from the rubble.
A team of Special Tactics airmen from Hurlburt Field, specially trained to open airfields, opened a runway Thursday at Tyndall Air Force Base. Six minutes after the runway was cleared at 7 p.m., the first aircraft to land at Tyndall since the hurricane blew through Wednesday was on the ground at the base. The first planes into Tyndall were two CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft loaded with relief supplies and additional Special Tactics personnel.
"Once the airfield was established, three MC-130H Combat Talon IIs from the 15th Special Operations Squadron (based at Hurlburt Field) were rerouted to Tyndall during their return from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, where they sought shelter during the storm," according to a Friday news release from the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field.
The three aircraft "landed personnel and equipment to restore communications and assist in search, rescue and recovery efforts, before returning to Hurlburt Field," according to the news release.
On Friday, 1st Special Operations Wing aircraft returned to Tyndall, flying in with a mobile kitchen which will be operated by airmen assigned to the 823rd Red Horse Squadron, an engineering and repair unit from Hurlburt Field.
"Additionally, some members of Team Tyndall who stayed behind during Hurricane Michael to perform emergency management functions were flown to Hurlburt Field aboard a C-146 assigned to the 492nd Special Operations Wing, where they will have warm food, access to clean water and safe lodging," according to the 1st SOW news release.
In addition to the Hurlburt Field aircraft, response forces from the Air Force's Air Mobility Command at Travis Air Force Base in California have landed at Tyndall, bringing in two large C-17 transport jets loaded with equipment, supplies and personnel to help re-initiate air traffic and begin rebuilding the base.
Hurlburt's Special Tactics airmen will continue to play a crucial role at Tyndall, providing air traffic control as an increasing number of aircraft are able to fly into the base, headquarters of the 325th Fighter Wing and a number of other major Air Force units.
The 15-member Special Tactics team "will continue to control Tyndall's air field until conventional air traffic controllers are able to get to the area and take over the airfield operations," according to an email from Lt. Jaclyn Pienkowski, public affairs advisor at Hurlburt's 24th Special Operations Wing, part of the Air Force Special Operations Command.