10/02/13 — Shutdown affects SJAFB

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Shutdown affects SJAFB

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 2, 2013 1:46 PM

The commissary went dark.

The men and women charged with training the military's future F-15E aviators were grounded.

Many of the civilians who work on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base were furloughed.

The government shutdown came home to Wayne County Tuesday, as top officials from the Air Force base housed in Goldsboro confirmed that "the absence of an approved budget is extremely disruptive" to the installation's operation.

And while there will be an attempt, for the duration of the shutdown, to "minimize negative impacts" and to continue functions essential to ensuring national security and public safety, many of those employed by the county's economic anchor were met with bad news.

4th Fighter Wing Vice Commander Col. Evan Pettus said roughly 50 percent of the wing's civilian workforce has been furloughed -- that "a reduction in services" would be experienced in "administrative support, non-critical maintenance and base repairs, as well as customer service for identification cards."

And as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the commissary closed indefinitely.

"By law, in the event of a lapse in appropriations, the Department of Defense can only conduct activities designed to protect safety of life and property," Pettus said, adding that given those guidelines, the men and women who, as members of the 333rd and 334th Fighter Squadrons, train future Strike Eagle aviators, would also be without work. "Per this guidance, our operational squadrons will continue to fly to maintain readiness to support key military operations. Our Formal Training Unit squadrons, which train all new F-15E aircrew for the Combat Air Forces, will cease flying."

But those hit the hardest are the civilians who have already been dealing with furloughs handed down as part of the sequester.

"The lack of appropriations or continuing resolution is forcing another civilian furlough. It is distressing for our civilian team members to suffer through furloughs again," Pettus said. "This will create serious uncertainty and cause financial hardships on an already stressed workforce."

Base officials have not yet determined just how many people this latest development in Washington has hurt.

And while those who wear their nation's uniform will still receive pay, Pettus noted the importance of every man and woman employed on Seymour Johnson.

"Every member of the Air Force team is important to accomplishing our mission," he said. "During these uncertain times, we need to be good wingmen and help each other persevere while maintaining a commitment to our mission of providing dominant Strike Eagle air power to our nation."