117th Refueling Wing back in business - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

117th Refueling Wing back in business

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Here at home during the shutdown the 117th Air Refueling Wing was unable to perform its normal duties. Several training missions canceled, logistics were re-evaluated.

Today, at least, a beginning of getting back to normal.

On the tarmac of the 117th Refueling Wing, the sounds of generators, and maintenance trucks on the move is music to the ears of Wing executive officer, Major Lisa Weaver.

"Seeing, even hearing the noise back there, knowing that it's back up and running, and it's getting started again is a very wonderful thing. To know, that we get to do our mission again," she says.

The majority of those missions halted when furloughs began October 1.

Weaver recalls the uncertainty that followed when 150 uniformed personnel were furloughed for that first week.

"We had a lot of people wondering, 'Am I coming to work?' 'Am I not coming to work?' It was very challenging," says Weaver. "We had 150 people who didn't even have jobs for a little while, so it was difficult."

Before the shutdown, the 117th typically ran four training flights per day. That dropped to just one per week.

Now it's time to get these birds back in the air.

"It's nice, there's a lot of good energy in the air. People know we get the chance to go back to business as usual," Weaver says. "Being able to get the planes back up in the air. Get maintenance back up and running. Get training exercises going. Drill weekends. It's great to be able to do that again."

While today is a positive step forward, the 117th is already looking ahead to January,
when another government shutdown could occur.

"This is a temporary reprieve, and that's at the back of our minds. So, a lot of the long term planning that we would do, we can't do. We can't really plan anything past January right now," Weaver says.

The 117th will have a deployment scheduled for this Saturday and is in the process of scheduling more training operations for this week.

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