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Altus Airmen combat record setting weather

Snow plows shovel snow.

Trucks plow snow on a taxiway after a night of heavy snowfall, Feb. 17, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. 97th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen worked in 12-hour shifts during the weather emergency, ensuring base roads and runways are safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kayla Christenson)

man on ladder looks at aircraft engine

Alex Erickson, 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, checks a C-17 Globemaster III engine for blockages, Feb. 19, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Despite prior heavy snowfall, maintainers were able to generate aircraft for aircrew students training at the 97th Air Mobility Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

people gather around aircraft

Maintainers from the 97th Maintenance Group de-ice a C-17 Globemaster III, Feb. 19, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The 97th Maintenance Group de-iced the planes after a recent winter storm to ensure the base training mission could continue. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

man adjusts wires

Senior Airman Austin Burk, 97th Civil Engineer Squadron Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC) apprentice, troubleshoots a furnace, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The HVAC team worked 12-hour shifts around the clock and kept Airmen on standby for repairs due to a winter storm. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

man replaces brushes on snow removal equipment

Lucas Condon, 97th Civil Engineer Squadron Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration technician, works on replacing brushes on a piece of snow removal equipment, Feb. 17, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Airmen of the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron worked day and night to fix heat, frozen pipes and clear roads from snow and ice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kayla Christenson)

person looks at multiple computer monitors

Tech. Sgt. James Hale, 97th Operations Support Squadron airfield weather operations noncommissioned officer in charge, uses meteorological weather data to assess an approaching snow storm and freezing temperatures, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Hale provides weather warnings and advisories for the base and keeps 97th Air Mobility Wing leadership up to date on developing conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Nathan Allen)

people set down a hatch

From left, Greg Miller, a 97th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) engineering technician and Tech. Sgt. Michael Richardson, 97th CES section chief of Water and Fuel Systems Maintenance, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, and electrical, replace the cover of a water valve, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. After a pipe burst, Miller and Richardson had to turn off the water valve and remove the excess water from the affected building. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

person brushes floors

Greg Miller, a 97th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) engineering technician, removes water from a hallway, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Miller and other 97th CES members were called to shut off the water valve and remove water from a facility after a pipe burst in the ceiling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

person paces ID card

Airman 1st Class Kezia Jiotsa, 97th Security Forces Squadron force protection specialist, hands an identification card back to a member entering the installation, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Jiotsa is one of the many 97th Air Mobility Wing Airmen who worked through the winter storm and freezing temperatures to ensure the base mission could resume normal operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

Sleeping cots are laid out in a room
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Sleeping cots are laid out in the second floor of the 97th Medical Group, which was used as a mass care shelter, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Mass care shelters provide power, sleeping arrangements and bathing areas in case of floods, tornadoes and power outages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

Thomas Sturdevant, a 97th Civil Engineer Squadron maintenance mechanic, pushes water from a hallway, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Members of 97th CES responded to several burst water pipes across Altus AFB caused by freezing temperatures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)
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Thomas Sturdevant, a 97th Civil Engineer Squadron maintenance mechanic, pushes water from a hallway, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Members of 97th CES responded to several burst water pipes across Altus AFB caused by freezing temperatures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

From left, Greg Miller, 97th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) engineering technician, and Tech. Sgt. Michael Richardson, 97th CES section chief of water and fuel systems maintenance, observe a leak, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The pipe burst due to freezing temperatures, causing areas of the facility to flood. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)
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From left, Greg Miller, 97th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) engineering technician, and Tech. Sgt. Michael Richardson, 97th CES section chief of water and fuel systems maintenance, observe a leak, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The pipe burst due to freezing temperatures, causing areas of the facility to flood. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

From left, Airman 1st Class Seth Chaffee, 97th Security Forces squadron force protection specialist, and Danny Thomas, 97th SFS flight sergeant, defend the main gate, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Working in 12-hour shifts during a weather emergency, security forces Airmen protected the base and kept Airmen and their families safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kayla Christenson)
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From left, Airman 1st Class Seth Chaffee, 97th Security Forces squadron force protection specialist, and Danny Thomas, 97th SFS flight sergeant, defend the main gate, Feb. 16, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Working in 12-hour shifts during a weather emergency, security forces Airmen protected the base and kept Airmen and their families safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kayla Christenson)

Altus Air Force Base, Okla. --

The 97th Air Mobility Wing received over five and a half inches of snow and freezing temperatures Feb. 14-17, 2021 resulting in a base wide effort to take care of Airmen and families, recover operations, and preserve the installation.

From working 12-hour shifts to ensure safety to standing up a mass care shelter, several agencies including the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, 97th Maintenance Group, and 97th Security Forces Squadron teamed up to help the base resume normal operations.

Airmen from 97th Civil Engineer Squadron worked to fix heating units, broken pipes and clear roads of snow and ice, among other tasks.

“We're making sure that everybody can get onto base safely and that we can continue the training mission that we have here,” said 1st Lt. Zachary Wontrop, 97th CES snow and ice officer in charge.

“The [civil engineer] team has been going nonstop since last week when we started getting this cold weather,” said Col. Matthew Leard, 97th AMW commander. “We've still got a lot of work to do.”

Raymond Brzozowski, 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron director, said maintainers were able to draw from their depth of experience to do their part to keep the base’s critical training mission going.

“Inclement weather doesn’t stop our adversaries nor our responsibility to defend the nation,” he said. “While it’s a little unusual to have these conditions here, we have technicians and aircrew instructors who have operated under these conditions in the past.  Safely executing the mission, graduating students and keeping America’s defense strong is why we come out here every day, regardless of the weather.”

Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kay, 97th AMW command chief, expressed his thanks in a message to the wing.

“Thank you for your quick responses, getting heat turned back on, water lines fixed, and everything else,” said Kay. “We wouldn’t be able to do the mission without every single one of you.”

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