Tampa civic leaders tour Keesler

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jessica Kendziorek
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

With the threat of thunderstorms looming and the winds getting stronger, civic leaders from Florida arrived on a KC-135 Stratotanker March 29, 2018 from MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Florida traveling with the Air Force Reserve’s 927th Air Refueling Wing. 

“Seeing the refueling operation on our way here was something I never expected to see,” said Richard Terrana, attorney for the Law Offices of Rick Terrana. “Then to get here and learn about the ‘Hurricane Hunter’ mission was impressive and I loved it.”

Their time in Mississippi started with a drive down the beach leaving from the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center and then toured the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base.

The civic leaders were welcomed by the 403rd Wing Vice Commander Col. Robert J. Stanton before being briefed on the different missions of Keesler.

While here, the civic leaders were briefed about the 81st Training Wing and learned about some of the devastation that Keesler AFB received during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

After seeing the base and then hearing about the damage, Terrana said he was impressed to see how the base looked now.

The leaders were also briefed about the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunter” mission and toured the WC-130J Super Hercules used to fly the hurricane missions, which also supports the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron’s missions of moving critically ill troops or those troops that had a damage controlling type of surgery.   

“I was really interested in the ‘Hurricane Hunter’ mission especially since we had so many storms last year,” said Edward Ellsasser, Prime Group Insurance president. “Being from Florida and going through storms, I always wanted to know how the information was gathered from the eye of the storm. It was interesting to learn how they get the information and send it to the National Hurricane Center.”

After their stop at the 41st Aerial Port Squadron, and watching the demonstration put together by Master Sgt. Steve Martin, Air Reserve Technician assistance non-commissioned officer in charge of Ramp Services, both Ellsasser and Terrana said they respect and appreciate the work done by the military and understand more about how important it is to support our members. 

Ellsasser said that going on these tours is important because it reminds him of what the military gives to keep America safe and what is needed to help support servicemembers.

The civic leaders received a tour of the propeller shop of the 403rd Maintenance Squadron, but their day didn’t end there. They were also treated to a fish fry by the D’Iberville/St. Martin Chamber of Commerce at the D’Iberville Town Green.

Their visit to Mississippi continued the next day with a visit to the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport before flying back to Florida.  The NCBC serves as the home base of the Atlantic Fleet Seabees, which are the U.S. Navy’s construction battalions.  

“This was a wonderful opportunity to see what our tax dollars are used for,” said Terrana. “I have a greater appreciation for what our guard and reserve military do and the help they need from their civilian life.”