By Chuck Walker
MOBILE, Ala. – Three critical projects the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District is currently working are the rebuild of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, construction projects at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and the deepening and widening of the Mobile Harbor, Alabama.
It was no surprise that when new South Atlantic Division commander, Brigadier Gen. Daniel Hibner, visited the District last week he received a tour and a update on the progress of those projects, as well as an update on the work USACE and the Panamanian team are doing on the Panama Canal.
Mobile District Commander Col. Jeremy Chapman said Hibner’s visit was a successful one.
“This was an outstanding trip for the new SAD command team to see much of our Air Force (Military Construction) program at Tyndall and Eglin and Partner with our Panama Canal authority team,” said Chapman. “SAD’s acting Director of Business Management, Amanda Pommerenck, and the new Military Integration Division Chief, Rick Sinclair, both saw firsthand the Tyndall rebuild and most of our teammates at Eglin. They got an appreciation for the massive workload and challenges that come along with delivering in a tough labor and materials market.”
While at Tyndall AFB, Hibner visited current construction sites in their various stages of construction, to include the Child Development Center, the lodging facility and the Area 1 projects that will house the F-35 Lightning II aircraft once they arrive to the base.
Tyndall AFB was devasted by Hurricane Michael in 2018 and almost the entire base has to be rebuilt. Col. Patrick Combs, USACE Project Manager at Tyndall, said Hibner’s visit was important because of his history with Tyndall and Hurricane Michael.
“Brigadier Gen. Hibner’s visit was significant since he was the Savannah District Commander when Hurricane Michael hit Tyndall AFB,” Combs said. “He was on the ground from the beginning of assessment and the demolition phase of nearly 172 buildings. Now as the SAD Commander, Brigadier Gen. Hibner is the Corps of Engineers executive leader who is excited about the base transformation and future innovations USACE is implementing for the Air Force.”
At Eglin AFB, Hibner visited with staff and got a look at the construction projects currently happening at the base.
Paul Sadowski, Gulf Coast Area Engineer at Eglin, said he was thankful for Hibner’s visit to the Project Management office and the opportunity to discuss issues his team is facing.
“The staff greatly appreciated the understanding of the challenges currently faced in delivering a project in our current environment,” Sadowski said. “And the support to provide the assistance needed to recruit and retain the top talent necessary to execute the program.”
Hibner concluded his tour of the district by taking a water tour of the Mobile Harbor on the M/V Damrell, visting with the command staff and getting an update and briefings from the Panama Canal Authority team.
Overall Hibner said his visit was enjoyable and was proud about the positive progress of the Tyndall rebuild since his last visit as Savannah District commander.
“Since the last time I’ve been at Tyndall, I can honestly say it looks incredible,” said Hibner. “It’s come a long, long way and a huge pat on the back to everyone involved in the reconstruction process. This is one of the heaviest lifts USACE has ever been tasked to complete. I’m absolutely amazed to see how far it’s come to this point. It went from random buildings scattered everywhere after Hurricane Michael hit, to a base that’s starting to take shape.”