16:42 PM

S.C. Wing Impresses Air Force During Evaulated Emergency Response Exercise

1st Lt. Norwood A. Bodie
Public Affairs Officer
Aiken Composite Squadron
South Carolina Wing

The South Carolina Wing has received a “Ready” rating from the U.S. Air Force for its performance during a recent evaluated exercise that involved catastrophic weather and a missing duo.

Wing members responded to a scenario featuring the following elements:

  • The National Weather Service issues a statement warning of thunderstorms and possible tornadoes for portions of South Carolina’s Midlands and Peedee regions, including high winds, lightning, thunder, heavy rain and potential mesocyclonic activity.
  • After family members later report a fisherman and his son overdue from returning from a fishing and camping trip down the Lynches River, the State Warning Point asks the South Carolina Wing to establish an incident command post at Wing Headquarters in Columbia in anticipation of operations along the river. About 8 p.m. local time the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center issues a mission number for the wing.

Wing members responded by establishing a mission base and forming aircrews and ground teams for deployment to aid in the search. Wing Headquarters erupted into activity as day faded into night, with members staffing communication stations, looking over maps and aeronautical charts to plan air searches, arranging staging area for ground teams and trying to glean any additional information to assist with the search.

As dawn broke the following morning, aircrews began lifting off from airports at various locations around the state to conduct searches along the Lynches. Ground teams were dispatched to strategic points along the river.

During the search a ground team was dispatched after an emergency locator transmitter was detected in another part of the state. Meanwhile, state officials requested aerial photography of the Coastal Shoreline and Counties to assess damage to infrastructure after the storm’s passing, and shortly afterward aircrews lifted off to generate the requested images.

Shortly after noon a ground team located the missing fisherman and his son, then turned them over for medical treatment. In addition, another ground team tracked the ELT to Greenwood County Airport and silenced it. And aircrews submitted aerial photos to state officials for inspection.

In all, 138 South Carolina Wing members from 17 of the 19 squadrons responded to the call, and nine of the wing’s 10 planes took to the air.

Air Force evaluators cited air operations, logistics, public information and briefing organization and planning as areas in which the wing excelled. The wing’s leadership team is now looking at recommendations from the Air Force and from participants within the wing to identify any areas that could be improved on.