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    Airmen from the 141st Air Refueling Wing embrace the meaning of Multi-Capable Airmen (MCA) and resiliency during natural disasters-- this time it was in a tropical setting as Typhoon Mawar, a category 4 storm, hit the island of Guam on May 24, 2023.

    As the storm loomed, more than 80 airmen from the 141st took shelter at a hotel off Andersen Air Force Base preparing for what was to come. They filled bathtubs with water, charged batteries, gathered food supplies, and accounted for everyone before the storm kicked off the night of May 23. In anticipation of the typhoon, 28 airmen forward deployed to keep the mission going, explained 1st Lt. Charlotte Binkoski 506th, Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron maintenance officer, 141st MX officer deployed to Guam.

    “They’re working with a skeleton crew and getting it done,” said Binkoski. “Exemplifying the MCA concept. They haven’t missed a mission despite the limited resources.”

    The storm was loud, power was lost early on, and the backup generator went out in the middle of the night, said Binkoski. The storm raged on and the 141st team adapted, organized, and relied on each other for help. As rooms flooded, wingmen offered shelter to one another and ensured everyone was safe and dry. The typhoon was the strongest storm to hit the island in decades and swept over the island with sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts up to 165 mph. Areas of the island were drenched with rain receiving more than 20 inches over 24 hours. The next morning, after gaining accountability, 141 ARW airmen immediately jumped into action to help with the cleanup effort, explained Lt Colonel David Seeman, 506 EARS Commander, a 141st KC-135 pilot deployed to Guam. Branches and trash were picked up and sheet metal was moved aside. Unfortunately, the hotel’s backup generator was flooded, but 12 141st airmen bailed out the generator and were able to make repairs, get it fired up, and restore power to the entire building.

    “We drove to the base shortly after the lockdown was lifted and the drive was emotional,” said Seeman. “There was debris everywhere, sheet metal awnings were crumpled like a piece of paper, power lines were down, traffic lights were facing every which way, and thick jungles were stripped bare and looked like East Tennessee in Winter.”

    The day after the typhoon hit, the entire 506 EARS helped to clear the airfield of debris. Getting the airfield open was one of the first priorities, said Binkoski. The first aircraft to come in was a USCG C-130 with dive teams and boat crews to assist in clearing waterways and open the Navy port to accept relief vessels. "There's no lack of confidence in our capability, especially in our Guardsman. It's a testament to everything we do at home preparing for our mission down range,” said Chief Kjell Anderson, 506th EARS MX Chief. “The latitude given to our members to solve problems and get solutions for every issue or challenge thrown our way. This is a result of the culture we have in our Wing today and allowed us to prepare, endure, and persevere."

    141 ARW Airmen deployed to Andersen to provide in-flight refueling operations for the pacific theater via the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. The squadron is rotationally occupied by Air National Guard units across the states. President Biden declared that a major disaster exists in the territory of Guam and ordered Federal aid to supplement the territory and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Typhoon Mawar beginning on May 22, 2023, and continuing thereafter, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Nearly 550 FEMA personnel are supporting the response and recovery efforts in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.



    Date Taken: 06.02.2023
    Date Posted: 06.14.2023 11:42
    Story ID: 447137
    Location: GU

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