News: Winter storm disrupts unit training assembly
Story by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. - A large winter storm that produced heavy snow and ice in the Pacific Northwest, created severe travel conditions and forced the cancellation of the Feb. Unit Training Assembly for members of the 142nd Fighter Wing.
The storm system began late Thursday afternoon and closed the base to non-essential personnel from Friday until today. The base remained open for essential personnel and positions related to security, safety, and the alert mission.
While most of the 1,200 unit members were unable to travel to Portland, a small group from the 142nd Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) arrived on station to clear the snow from flight line areas, building entrances and other areas of large snow accumulation.
"A dedicated group of troops worked really hard over the weekend," said Lt. Col. Jason Lay, commander of the 142nd Civil Engineer Squadron.
The group of nearly 20 members operated a variety of machines to remove snow but also hand shoveled many areas around base while working with the Security Forces Squadron to keep the gates open and sufficient supply of ice-melts.
"We had some folks that really stepped up to keep the mission going over the weekend," said Col. Paul Fitzgerald, 142nd Mission Support commander.
The cold conditions contributed to a water leak that was also discovered by the CES and shut off shortly after it was discovered, said Lay.
As the snow dissipated late Saturday and turned to ice on Sunday, an ardent group of five members stayed to finish clearing ice from the alert barns and ramp areas. They included Chief Master Sgt. Tim Gilbert, Senior Master Sgt. Mike Sprague, Master Sgt. Keith Ashby, and Senior Airmen Josh Eckert and Andrew Wolf.
The February Unit Training Assembly was canceled with safety being a key consideration for unit members traveling to the Portland Air National Guard Base.