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Storms can help us better understand ourselves, others

  • Published
  • By Debbie Gildea
  • 340th Flying Training Group

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas – Natural disasters, in many cases, can be opportunities to learn more about ourselves and about our fellow humans.

In February, a monster storm swept across Texas, bringing days of single digit temperatures, frozen pipes, and rolling power outages (for some, complete power loss), leaving many Texans stranded in the cold without potable water. Ice and snow-covered roads prevented safe travel, but there really wasn’t anywhere to go anyway.

Many of us just hunkered down and hoped for the best, but not the 97th Flying Training Squadron DevilCats.

The 97th, located at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, is a Reserve unit assigned to the 340th Flying Training Group here at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Members routinely use a communication app to stay in touch with each other on a variety of issues, and it came in handy during the storm, enabling squadron members to communicate with and support each other.

Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Matt Sallee sent us a photo that "represents how the DevilCats came together in the face of 12-plus inches of snow and five days of sub-zero temps."

It's just a picture of a man climbing out of a crawl space (you can see it with this story), but - as Sallee said - it tells a bigger story.

The man in the picture is Lt. Col. Cary Herndon, one of the squadron's flight commanders. He's not a plumber or maintenance guy and it's not his crawl space and not his house up above.

What would a flight commander be doing crawling around under somebody else's house?  The quick story is, a teammate had broken pipes, thanks to the freeze, and Herndon went over there to fix the pipes.

"No, he's not a plumber. He's just a handy guy in general," Sallee said.

- The pipe was busted.

- It needed to be fixed.

- Herndon has a big truck and could get around in the snow.

- He decided to go fix his teammate's pipes.

- The End.

But it wasn't really the end. There was more:

"When the storm hit we used the app on our phones to help each other out. Some folks had trucks and were able to get out and help deliver groceries, fix stuff, etc. Some families did not have power or water, but many who did have power and water offered up their guest rooms, so families moved in together and helped take care of each other," Sallee explained.

There's no doubt, the mid-February storm that pummeled Texas was ruthless. Some people died, and most others were in a world of hurt for about a week (some still don't have water).

But it also showed us a side of some of our fellow humans that we may not have known about. People like Herndon, a pilot, crawling around in the dark under a teammate's house to fix the frozen plumbing, and so many other DevilCats who brought teammates and their families into their homes to keep them safe.

None of them had to do those things and nobody would fault any of them if they hadn't. But they did without any expectation of reward or attention. They're just good people, good neighbors.

Knowing that makes future storms seem a little less scary.