By Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — It sounded like the end of days.
Ice the size of baseballs fell from the sky reaching speeds capable of damaging any opposing object in its path. From car windshields and windows to aircraft on the flightline, nothing was safe from the devastating impacts.
A severe thunderstorm carrying hail damaged personal and government property throughout Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., July 28.
It was during the late evening Thursday when the wind began sweeping over the base and the clouds opened up. The thunderstorm started as any storm that brought hail over the local area before, but that’s when the usual marble-sized hail grew larger and larger.
From the base dormitories, Airmen could be seen running and helping other Airmen into their rooms for cover as the sounds of the hail started smashing into buildings and cars.
Car alarms sounded, but were muffled by the intense booms caused by the repeated rapid-fire impacts.
After nearly a half hour of deafening noise, the storm subsided. Those who sought shelter warily opened doors to see first-hand the damage. Standing outside, there was nowhere to look without seeing the aftermath of the storm.
First responders were called to help those who weren’t able to escape the elements of the storm.
“I was pulling up to the dorms and saw my car get hit on the windshield,” said Airman 1st Class Bianca Arreguin, 21st Force Support Squadron customer service representative. “Immediately after, I saw three grapefruit-sized hail hit my car. I didn’t want to stay in my car if my windshield was going to cave in so I ran towards the building, but I got hit twice in the arm on my way. Another Airman saw it, helped me into their room and took care of me as we waited for the ambulance because I thought my arm was broken.”
As reveille sounded the next morning and base personnel filtered onto Peterson, damaged cars lining the parking lots were obvious to anyone passing by. Each respective squadron and unit started accounting for all the damage to their buildings and equipment.
The 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron walked down their lines of vehicles in the motor pool, taking note of the cracked windshields and broken lights, while the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron mounted up all available Airmen to begin the process of boarding up broken windows.
Since the hail storm, Team Pete has banded together to bring the base back to its former glory. The resolution will not be immediate, but through teamwork and dedication, the process is certainly possible.
“During this time, I want to assure you that all agencies within the 21st Space Wing are working in our highest capacity to recover from the hail storm,” said Col. Doug Schiess, 21st Space Wing commander. “Helping agencies are assembled and mobilized, but we need everyone’s help to come together and mitigate this situation. This is the time for us to come together as wingmen and a community to help those who are most affected.”