EF-5 tornado hits near Tinker AFB
By Air Force News Service
/ Published May 21, 2013
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- Nearly 250 members of the Oklahoma National Guard, as well as members of Tinker Air Force Base are assisting with victim search and security in Moore, Okla., where a tornado left at least 24 dead, authorities said.
The twister hit Monday, May 20, about 3:15 p.m. CDT, just three miles south of Tinker.
"At this time, we are attempting to determine the specific impact to our personnel, their families and the local community," Col. Russell Muncy, the 507th ARW commander, said in a press release May 20.
Among National Guard members activated to assist in relief efforts were Airmen from the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron from nearby Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City.
In a video interview, 2nd Lt. Gabriel Bird said the unit members carry thermal imaging gear to help locate those buried in rubble.
"Hopefully, we'll find survivors," Bird said.
Members also carried multi-band radios to communicate with ground and aircraft crews, and basic medical supplies, Bird said. "We're a pretty new unit, so we haven't supported any state emergencies." But Bird noted that many squadron members are veterans who have supported other disaster recovery operations when assigned to other units.
According to Tinker public affairs, 12 base firefighters and one safety officer were dispatched immediately to assist rescue efforts in the Moore area, and one surgeon was dispatched to the Oklahoma University Medical Center.
"In light of the devastating tornadoes that have hit the Oklahoma City area, I tasked the Airman and Family Readiness Center to stand up the Emergency Family Assistance Center 24/7 to ensure Tinker personnel and their families receive effective support during this most difficult time," said Col. Steven Bleymaier, commander of the 72nd Air Base Wing.
More information on disaster relief efforts can be found at the Tinker Air Force Base public website, www.tinker.af.mil.