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Back to business: 337th returns to duty

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood)

Air battle manager students attend class April 19, 2018, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood)

Air battle manager students attend class April 19, 2018, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Students attending air battle manager courses at the 337th Air Control Squadron resumed classes Jan. 7, 2019, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., to complete their remaining coursework just three months after a direct hit from Hurricane Michael.

Early evaluations determined that the 337th ACS buildings sustained minimal roof and water damage, while equipment and systems remain in good condition. Repairs are ongoing, however leadership determined that ABM training should continue.

“The first steps after the storm, were to determine the capabilities that we still had,” said Lt. Col. Michael Lynch, 337th ACS commander. “There are three things that this squadron needs to continue the mission: the MU-2 contract training aircraft, the F-15 full motion trainers and our off-station capability to receive radar feed to control missions. All three mission capabilities survived the storm.”

Permanent party members of the squadron began returning to duty within weeks of the hurricane. Shortly after, more personnel returned upon securing housing and stabilizing their families’ wellbeing.

A crucial limiting factor for ABM training commencing was the return of the MU-2 aircraft Dec. 18, 2018, that evacuated ahead of Hurricane Michael. This significant milestone effectively reopened the ABM pipeline for the entire Air Force.

“It’s important to resume operations in the timeline that we are,” said Lynch. “We are the only ABM training squadron in the entire Air Force and if we stood up training any further the operational Air Force would not get the ABMs needed.”

Moving forward, the 337th ACS will continue the mission of graduating ABMs at Tyndall with no plan to relocate. Lynch says that is largely in part to the team work that took place shortly after the storm and that still continues to this day.

“Operationally, we are in a very good spot,” said Lynch. “We have everything we need to resume training, but we couldn’t have gotten here without the help from the 33rd Fighter Wing giving us a home over at Eglin to begin planning, the support of the 325th Fighter Wing helping us with the recovery process, as well as everybody involved in the squadron. There was significant stress, but everyone is getting it done. I couldn’t be more proud.”