South Carolina airmen look to sample cuisine while here

South Carolina airmen look to sample cuisine while here
An airman works under one of the 60 F-16 Viper fighter jets from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., that were evacuated to Barksdale Air Force Base because of Hurricane Dorian. [Source: Scott Pace/KSLA News 12]

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — It’s become a familiar sight at Barksdale Air Force Base in recent years.

Whenever there’s a bad storm along the East Coast, the Louisiana installation typically gets a visit from some aircraft and crew seeking refuge.

This time, the evacuation from the East Coast involves 60 F-16 Viper fighter jets from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C.

Senior Airman Kyle Matern, an F-16 crew chief, described some of what makes the evacuation of so many jets a big challenge.

“We’ll look for tires to see if they’re worn, see if we can make it. We’ll check fuel, the nitrogen pressure levels, just make sure everything’s good to go for the flight to get there and back.”

Each jet has its own fight and maintenance crews.

That means a total of 120 airmen taking the trip to Barksdale.

The 60,000-pound jets are evacuated because, even if secured to the ground, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay in that same spot during a storm.

“The wind will pick 'em up, actually. If you see videos of aircraft during a storm, if you don’t moor them down ...”

While in town, the visiting airmen want to enjoy a little Cajun cuisine.

“Last time I was here, I went to Marilyn’s Place. Is that what it’s called? Yeah," said Matern, for whom this is his second evacuation to Barksdale.

“I really liked that place last time. So I’m hoping to hit that up again.”

Then there’s Maj. Stephanie July, the aircraft maintenance squadron’s operations director.

“I have not gone from the hotel yet. Tonight, I plan on going somewhere," she said Thursday.

"It’s my husband’s birthday and he happens to be here, too. So we’re going to get out and try something.”

Members of the 20th Fighter Wing said they hope to go home this weekend.

But it all depends, as it has so often in the past two weeks, on Dorian’s path and speed.

Barksdale spokesman Maj. Andrew Caulk said such evacuations to happen fairly often, and largely because of Barksdale’s very long runway and lots of space to host aircraft on the ramps.

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