By Halle Thornton
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Airmen rallied after a bombogenesis, or “bomb cyclone,” hit Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, March 13-14.
Bombogenesis, or “bomb cyclone,” refers to a rapidly intensifying area of low pressure.
The central pressure of an area must drop at least 24 millibars in 24 hours to qualify.
In other words, one would expect to see intense wind gusts or large amounts of snow.
Schriever AFB saw both, including reduced visibility for 48 hours, 4- to 6-foot snow drifts in some areas and hurricane-strength wind gusts.
Tech. Sgt. John Dodd, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of payment and equipment, was tasked with snow removal on and around Schriever AFB during the storm.
“The biggest issue during the blizzard was severely reduced visibility that had us held up in the shop until we could safely get out and begin snow removal operations,” he said. “We were also getting calls to assist emergency services and plowing the roads in front of their vehicles to help them get to housing residents that were having medical emergencies during the heaviest parts of the blizzard.”
Dodd said he also helped transport personnel from Irwin gate and provided them safe passage to their houses on base.
“I have encountered heavy snows when I was stationed at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea in 2014,” he said. “They had low visibility and the most snow we saw at one time was a 46-inch accumulation during the course of four hours. The blizzard here didn’t drop as much snow, but the high winds with reduced visibility made the roads more hazardous to traverse than I have ever seen before.”
Dodd said the most rewarding part about working during the blizzard was the gratitude everyone showed to the crew.
“Most people don’t see the work we perform during these events,” he said. “They just see it as a snow day. But to the people who have actually been stuck out in the elements we face during these weather events, they actually see what we are doing to help not only the base, but the people who live and work here.
“It gives you a sense of accomplishment just hearing people say thank you for braving the elements to help those in need,” Dodd continued.
Dodd added although he lives on base, he stayed in the shop overnight to help out.
“Everyone had families that they wanted to go home to, but if they couldn’t leave, neither could I,” he said.
Dodd praised his leadership and their support for Team Schriever.
“These Airmen were out there with us operating equipment during the entire snow removal operations,” he said. “I have truly seen what leadership is and have the utmost respect for those that will brave the elements to help their own.”
Master Sgt. Aaron Miller, 50th Security Forces Squadron flight chief on duty, conducted road checks before, during and after the storm and communicated real time information on the status of the weather conditions through his chain of command.
“Additionally, we switched the 24/7 gate to the West gate due to the closure of Highway 94 in order for emergency personnel to continue to perform emergency evacuation and rescue operations for both the local community and Schriever AFB personnel along Curtis Road, Bradley Road, and Highway 94,” he said.
During two excursions, Schriever members scoured approximately 5 miles of roadway around the installation’s perimeter. They encountered more than 50 stranded vehicles, to include an 18-wheeler, 36 on Curtis Road alone. One rescued driver was brought to the Visitor Control Center to take shelter until the following day when weather allowed them to return to their vehicles. Three military members volunteered to stay with the drivers for approximately 10 hours.
Miller said the 50th SFS faced many challenges, including driving in limited visibility (anywhere between 2-15 feet) to continued security operations, fighting the high winds while closing the North gate, opening the West gate and maintaining command and control with outside agencies.
“The most rewarding parts of the entire ordeal were just hearing some of the stories along with seeing all of us coming together to get Schriever back up and running,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who helped ensure the safety of drivers and to the ‘Dirt Boyz’ for working around the clock.”
Emily Rangel, 50th Force Support Squadron recreation assistant and key spouse, hosted five Airmen from the 50th SFS.
“We set up our guest bed and air mattress and we had our couch set up as well,” she said. “My husband and I helped them because I’m a key spouse, they are Airman in my husband’s flight and they weren’t allowed to leave the base. We knew they needed a place to sleep.”
Rangel said the most rewarding part of helping out during the blizzard was actively being able to take care of defenders who work long hours to protect the base, its assets and the families who live here.
“These are hardworking men and women and they were in a tough spot,” she said. “I was more than willing to make room in our home for them. I would do it all over again if the occasion called for it.”
Col. Jennifer Grant, 50th Space Wing commander, thanked Schriever for all their hard work.
This is literally a “One Team” effort across the board,” she said.
Thank you to the following Airmen who helped keep Schriever AFB safe:
50th Mission Support Group
Col. Brian Kehl
50th Contracting Squadron
Staff Sgt. Brandon Council
50th Civil Engineer Squadron
Lt. Col. Christopher Teke
Staff Sgt. Scott Norfleet
Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Wilkins
Staff Sgt. Brandon Pingle
Senior Airman Richard Florey
Senior Airman Cody Sumrall
Firefighter Edward Vasquez
50th Security Forces Squadron
Day Flight: were required to stay on base for 36-48 hours, sleeping on couches and floors in order to maintain security requirements throughout the inclement weather.
Tech. Sgt. Derek Halverson
Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Propst
Staff Sgt. Justin Osinga
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Brown
Staff Sgt. Kevin Cruz
Senior Airman Eliezer Mercado
Senior Airman Riley Vombaur
Senior Airman Tara Gardner
Officer Joshua Nieves
Officer Alejandro Garcia
Officer Daris Hennen
Mid Flight: all were on-base residents who were called in from other schedules and shifts to maintain security requirements throughout the inclement weather.
Tech. Sgt. Jason Kadisak
Staff Sgt. Matthew Collins
Staff Sgt. Joshua Ward
Staff Sgt. Xavier Cordova
Senior Airman Edgar Amador-Casas
Senior Airman Marlon Delgado
Senior Airman Austin Hopper
Senior Airman Connor Cox
Additionally, more than 100 Airmen from the 50th Operations Group and the 50th Mission Support Group and the 50th Network Operations Group helped keep the base safe.
Thank you to all others who braved the storm.