By 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 27, 2021
Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, and Command Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, ACC, talk with Tech Sgt. Michael Okonski, 55th Maintenance Squadron, outside Hangar 956 in Lincoln, Nebraska, July 22, 2021. The 55th Wing is operating 50 miles away in Lincoln as its runway is undergoing a full replacement at Offutt Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger)
Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, listens to Senior Master Sgt. Cameron Frizzell, 55th Maintenance Squadron, during a tour of Hangar 956 in Lincoln, Nebraska, July 22, 2021. While in Lincoln, Kelly and Command Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, ACC, toured the World War II era hangar that currently serves as the hub for all of the wing’s maintenance operations and a temporary hangar which is used for fuel cell operations and as a wash bay. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger)
Command Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, Air Combat Command, answers a question from a member of the Offutt Honor Guard at Offutt Air Force Base July 21, 2021. Wade and Gen. Mark Kelly, ACC commander, talked with Airmen, toured facilities, saw flood damage and traveled to Lincoln to get a good feel for how the command’s largest wing and the Air Force’s only weather wing accomplish their mission during their three day visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ryan Hansen)
Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, is briefed by Lt. Col. Chris Conover, Offutt Flood Rebuild Program Management Office, during a tour of the former 55th Intelligence Support Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base July 21, 2021. The 55th ISS is one of multiple squadrons who lost their home to the March 2019 flood and are now operating out of temporary long-term facilities, some of which were built in the 1940s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ryan Hansen)
Air Combat Command’s leadership team saw how the Airmen of the 55th Wing and 557th Weather Wing play a crucial role in the defense of the nation during a visit to Offutt Air Force Base July 20-22, 2021.
Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of ACC, and Command Chief Master Sgt. David Wade received a briefing on the 55th Wing’s and Team 557’s global mission, talked with Airmen, toured facilities, saw flood damage and traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska to get a good feel for how the command’s largest wing and the Air Force’s only weather wing accomplish their mission.
After diving into the base’s overall flood recovery, relocation and restructuring efforts, the ACC leaders learned what the future of the installation looks like as they were briefed on Offutt’s rebuild efforts.
“Everyone wants more 55th Wing capabilities, but we simply can’t meet Air Force and combatant commander needs if we don’t codify the facilities as part of the mission essential capabilities,” Kelly said. “We will continue to support the rebuilding of Offutt’s critical facilities.”
The tour included facilities flooded out in March 2019 and soon-to-be demolished buildings where displaced Airmen are currently performing their day-to-day mission, many of which were built in the 1940s.
“We’re proud to show off the incredible amount of self-help and enthusiasm from across Offutt that helped make interim workspace solutions, but these home grown efforts will not be enough to support the Air Force and combatant commander’s requirements in the long term,” said Maj. Dana Lundy, Offutt Flood Rebuild Program Management Office.
During a visit with the Offutt AFB Honor Guard, Kelly and Wade took the opportunity to take questions and hear some thoughts and concerns directly from Airmen.
“I could not be more proud of the professionalism by which Offutt’s Airmen go about accomplishing their mission every day,” Wade said. “Regardless of the challenges they face, they are leading the fight and it’s an honor for me to serve alongside them.”
“Having them stop by today to say, ‘thank you,’ and, ‘job well done,’ has inspired the Airman to continue to accomplish the mission in an exceptional manner,” said Master Sgt. Roneisha Williams, Offutt AFB Honor Guard. “I also hope this reinforced just how important each and every one of them are even in the lower ranks. Sometimes the smallest things that people do can have the biggest impact.”
The ACC team also learned how the 557th WW’s mission has evolved from a Field Operating Agency into an operational wing that now contributes directly to the joint force.
“The Airmen of the 557th Weather Wing bring capabilities to the fight that no other unit in the Air Force can,” Kelly said. “The new and innovative ways in which they accomplish their mission puts them at the forefront of not only weather, but also intel and cyber, making them invaluable to combatant commanders around the globe.”
Team 557 predicts and influences behavior by applying science to the mission in a variety of areas, including space weather.
“I had the opportunity to brief on one of our growing capabilities in the Space Weather Operations Center that provides environmental threat assessment and attribution for Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations in order to afford decision makers with offensive and defensive maneuver space,” said Capt. Taylor Whitney, 2d Weather Squadron. “It was a great chance to chat face-to-face with (COMACC) and hear that he recognizes at his level the importance of our JEMSO and space weather support as well as our efforts to integrate further with operators.”
The three-day visit concluded with a 50-mile trek to Lincoln, where all flying operations are currently taking place due to the ongoing runway replacement.
The team toured a World War II era hangar that currently serves as the hub for all of the wing’s maintenance operations and a temporary hangar which is used for fuel cell operations and a wash bay.
“I’m glad the ACC leadership team had the chance to see first-hand that the 55th Wing is accomplishing full-scale operations out of Lincoln, with minimal on-site support teams and limited space, all while having no significant loss or degradation to the overall mission,” said Master Sgt. Dan Campanella, 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “While the situation is unique and most certainly not ideal, it is important that they have confidence in our ability to perform the mission regardless, and I believe they saw our true capabilities as a wing.”
The ACC leaders had the opportunity to get hands-on on how the 55th Security Forces Squadron is utilizing integrated defense initiatives in order to remain agile and adaptive to ensure a full spectrum of mission success at Lincoln.
“What we are doing as a security team in Lincoln is so robust and unique – there is no other location or situation in the Air Force like ours,” said 2nd Lt. Weslee Schauers, 55th SFS. “Our team had the opportunity to showcase our paramount mission set in regards to resource and force protection and we discussed how much we have developed since we initiated operations, to where we are now and how we are continuing to grow,”
Overall, the visit provided just a glimpse on Team Offutt’s impact to military operations around the globe.