Military News

Friday, March 06, 2015

51st FSS provides 'home' during Key Resolve 2015

by Staff Sgt. William Banton
7th Air Force Public Affairs

3/5/2015 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The giant voice loudly blares the Mission Oriented Protective Posture condition as Airmen working at the Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Fitness and Sports Complex scramble to put on gas masks.

The 51st Fighter Wing is participating in Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly Midnight 15-1, which coincides with exercise Key Resolve 2015.

On any given day, the fitness facility gymnasium would be brightly lit. Today however, the windows are blacked out to accommodate the onslaught of service members required to sleep on cots for "bed down" in support of KR15.

"Bed down is the process during contingency operations where we facilitate lodging accommodations in a non-typical fashion, whether that's through a tent city or through a hardened structure, basically whatever facilities are available," said Staff Sgt. Aaron Spencer, 51st Force Support Squadron fitness assessment cell NCO in charge.

Spencer said he feels the installation would max out its lodging facilities quickly in a real-world situation.

"Being a part of this kind of operation opens your eyes to the responsibilities we have to take on as part of the bed down team," he said. "In real life situations, these people are going to need to get here, and they are going to need to get bed down [fast]."

Senior Airman Edward Bouley, a member of the Osan Air Base Fitness and Sports Complex front desk operations staff, was able to implement real-world bed down operations here when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011.

"By the time we got the notice, they were already starting to load people on the aircraft [and send them here], so we had to be quick," Bouley said.

Within hours, Airmen were scattered across the base erecting tents and building cots for the wave of incoming refugees evacuated to Korea from Japan.

"It's always a good sense of accomplishment for me, especially when you know exactly what you are doing has a direct impact," Bouley said.

Bouley described it like being deployed and seeing an aircraft take off with a full load of ordnance and coming back empty.

"I think it's important, for reassurance, that we are here and we are doing everything we can to help them," said Staff Sgt. Keyatta Toldert, 51st FSS fitness NCO in charge. "It may not be home, but it is what we have to offer, and we are trying to make them as comfortable as possible."

The fitness facility staff has transformed an area in the gym into a movie theater and game room and ensured limited foot traffic through the newly formed living quarters to help accommodate its temporary guests.

"A lot of time people are setting up tents and don't think much of it because they don't really see [the impact]," Bouley said. "But when that day comes, like when the earthquake hit, the training you have comes into play."

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