By Staff Sgt. Matt Benedetti, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 12, 2011
Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. -- Sorties over Eastern Afghanistan?... Check. Convoys through Iraq? ........Got it. A federal government shutdown? ...that might be a problem....
Members of the 104th Fighter Wing have earned a reputation for facing challenges head on but the looming government shutdown on 8 April nearly grounded the Barnestormers during their Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) deployment at Tyndall AFB in Florida. The skilled pilots and maintenance teams were poised, ready to employ their air-to-air arsenal at WESP.
The several months of planning required in preparation for this important exercise would have been rendered moot if a budget extension was not agreed upon in Washington D.C. by a midnight deadline.
The budgetary impasse between Congressional Republicans and the Democratic White House was not resolved until the 11th hour when an extension was finally approved by both sides. The debate was followed with keen interest by members of the 104th already here at Tyndall and those poised to depart from Westfield.
As the midnight deadline approached, Airmen followed the debate in a fashion more suited to the fourth quarter of a Patriots game. The compromise was met with elation and relief akin to a game winning field goal.
Throughout the period of uncertainty, the Airmen never lost their mission focus.
"Nobody dropped their guard," said 1st Sergeant Tim Mutti. "Everyone remained positive and kept informed. It was a bump in the road and once it was resolved we hit the ground running," he said.
Wing Commander Col. Robert Brooks arrived on the 9 April and was relieved that the budget was extended.
"We got an email at about 4 AM indicating that the funding was ok. Everyone was ready to go and I am glad to be here, "said Col. Brooks.