Detachment 6 picking up pieces, helping rebuild NCBC Gulfport
By 1st Lt. Michael Adkins, 366th Training Squadron
/ Published October 13, 2006
SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the 366th Training Squadron's Detachment 6 located in Gulfport, Miss., was left devastated.
Out of 37 permanent party members, five lost nearly everything. The detachment has started to rebuild and has continued to receive support from Sheppard AFB throughout the entire ordeal.
"Our first priority was accountability of everyone from student to family member," said Lt. Col. Dave Caffee, 366th TS commander. "Once we achieved 100 percent accountability, we focused on moving our families to a safe haven until the community recovered to the point they can safely return."
Staff Sgt. Pat Grames and his family suffered loss from water damage and relocated with his family to Sheppard temporarily. His family was quickly welcomed by Sheppard, put into base housing and given the proper medical care for his special needs child.
The sergeant said he was extremely grateful for being moved out of the terrible living conditions and into Wichita Falls. His wife is from a small city and it made the transition smoother having a warm feeling of home.
With Maj. Tom Rietkerk, Det. 6 commander, at the helm, Colonel Caffee said the team has already begun temporary repairs on housing and training facilities.
"I'm proud of the work Major Rietkerk and his detachment is doing despite the tremendous adversities they have faced," the colonel said. "They are working very hard with the Navy to bring the training back on line as fast as possible."
The intent is to be fully mission-capable by January 2006. The Navy's estimated cost to repair and replace the damaged training facilities is more than $67 million.
Despite the austere conditions and unrelenting heat and humidity, Det. 6 helped Gulfport's cleanup and recovery efforts after the storm. Structural civil engineer students removed debris from two housing areas and aided in the safe evacuation of retired veterans from the Navy retirement home.
The 366th TRS assembled a 14-man team made up of civil engineers to send to Gulfport in order to assess the damage and assist in fixing the facilities there and get training up and running as soon as possible.
Although the Navy is taking the lead as the host of the installation, the detachment continues to work on training facilities assisting the Navy by providing instructors for a temporary relocation of the Navy's structural course to Port Hueneme, Calif.
"We've also sent a site survey team to Port Hueneme to investigate the potential of temporarily setting up the Air Force-specific portion of the structural course," Colonel Caffee said. "We are now evaluating the survey results. We expect a decision within the next couple of weeks."