OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson met with Offutt Air Force Base leadership and elected officials March 22 to discuss rebuilding efforts for the base following recent flooding.
Just a week earlier, the base began taking on water that eventually covered one-third of the installation.
“We have assistance flying in from all over the United States to assist in the assessment of the damage and to begin reconstruction,” Wilson said. “The United States Air Force will rebuild Offutt Air Force Base. We will work with the Nebraska congressional delegation to secure supplemental funds to be able to recover from the damage and make this base even better than it was.”
During her visit she commended base leadership for their preparatory efforts.
“There were no injuries, no loss of life on this base,” Wilson said. “All the aircraft were either flown out or moved to high ground. A lot of the ground equipment was saved because they called in everybody in an all-hands effort.”
They also shared with her the pride they felt in their teammates.
“If you could have been here one week ago, you would have seen the American spirit of resiliency alive and well,” said Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander. “When the call came out for all hands on deck to do everything we could to defend this base against the rising water, there was nothing but positive attitudes, strong backs, strong shoulders, as we fought the water and now we are in the recovery mode and we are going to put this base back together. Every day we are getting a little bit better.”
Wilson also took the time to meet with a handful of the many men and women who took part in the preparation efforts.
“One of them, who was a National Guardsman, spent ten hours filling sand bags,” Wilson said.
“Another one was the wife of an Airman who worked at the Bennie Davis Maintenance Facility,” she continued. “He called his wife and said ‘the water is coming up across the parking lot.’ She called her folks in Iowa to come stay with the kids and she went in and started taking things from people’s offices and trying to get them up higher and tried to protect all of the heritage.”
Among those she spoke to, one in particular, Bruce McCauley, 55th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy director, really stuck out to her.
“(He) said something I just had to write down,” Wilson said. “(He) said, ‘Mother Nature can’t beat the 55th Wing.’”