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Tennessee Airmen assist restoring communications capability

  • Published
  • By Mary McHale
  • 1st Air Force Public Affairs
Seven Airmen from the 241st Engineering Installation Squadron in Chattanooga, Tenn., a geographically separated unit of the 134th Air Refueling Wing in Knoxville, Tenn., arrived here Feb. 26 to help restore the 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) communications infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Michael Oct. 10, 2018.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Phillip Dunn, 241st EIS Team Chief, the call for assistance went out from the Air National Guard Bureau and the hunt for volunteers began.

“Our unit reached out to our members for volunteers and these Airmen stepped up,” he said. “They are a very experienced, professional crew and have worked together a tremendous amount. I got the best team in Air Force.”
The chief said none of them expected to witness the extent of the local damage still visible until they traveled here and saw the results of the hurricane that blew through the region with winds exceeding 150 miles per hour.

“I don’t think any of us realized the area would still be so devastated this long after the hurricane,” Dunn said.

He said they actually began working on the installation plan prior to their arrival, becoming familiar with its scope and requirements. Overall, they expect their temporary duty assignment to last at least 45 days.

Now that the structural work of hurricane-affected offices is complete, this group got to work in offices and communication closets almost immediately after their arrival, following a meeting with local communications directorate representatives for an on-site briefing.

“Everyone here has been awesome,” Dunn said. “That makes it easy for us to do what we need to do to restore the computer and communications capabilities to this enterprise.”

Tech. Sgt. James Buchanan, RF transmission specialist, said their primary duty here is to remove and replace the communications fiber network cable to provide customers a computer and phone network. Prior to installation though, they first test the new cable to ensure it didn’t get damaged during shipment.

“We want to ensure we provide the customer with the best product possible,” said Master Sgt. Keith Brown, cyber transport specialist.

Col. Raymond Tramposch, Director, 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) Communications and Cyber Directorate, said the assistance of this group is invaluable to the enterprise.

“We are extremely grateful to have such a well-experienced group of professionals assisting us with restoration of our critical communications infrastructure after the horrendous devastation of Hurricane Michael. The E&I teams' hard work is going to ensure our personnel have the communications they need to accomplish the mission, support the field and most importantly get our folks one step closer to normalcy”