10/07/13 — Base personnel called back

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Base personnel called back

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 7, 2013 1:46 PM

Roughly 200 civilian members of the 4th Fighter Wing and 180 of their Reserve counterparts are "back in business."

Less than a week after more than 70 percent of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's non-uniformed work force was told to stay home as part of the government shutdown, the nearly 400 local men and women returned to work this morning.

Maj. Shannon Mann with the 916th Air Refueling Wing confirmed the civilians were reinstated Sunday -- that after President Barack Obama signed the Pay Our Military Act into law, the Department of Defense was authorized to, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel put it, "eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members."

The shutdown saw the 333rd and 334th Fighter Squadrons -- the Air Force's lone F-15E Strike Eagle training units -- grounded.

The Airman & Family Readiness Center, as well as the base commissary, library, tuition assistance office and education and training office also were forced to close their doors, while youth and recreation programs were downsized.

And those required to use the base visitor center to access the installation experienced unusually long wait times.

The Goldsboro and Wayne County economy took a hit, too, as the 916th Air Refueling Wing's monthly drill weekend -- an event that brings in hundreds of Reserve airmen from across the region and sees Wayne County hotels, restaurants and bars rake in thousands of dollars in profits -- was canceled.

But the shutdown was only the latest blow in what has already been a challenging year both for Seymour Johnson and the communities that house it.

A military-wide sequester hurt the local economy -- and the base's civilian work force -- long before this recent furlough.

The Wings Over Wayne airshow, an event that pumps millions into local coffers, was canceled as defense officials looked for ways to tighten their belts.

And staying home from work has become routine for many of the non-uniformed men and women who drive through the Goldsboro installation's gates every morning, as they have been required to stay home for several days this year as a result of the sequester.