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By D.P. Heard, 55th Wing Public Affairs
The 595th Command and Control Group held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the reopening of the E-4B hangar Feb. 21, 2023, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
The historic March 2019 flood severely damaged the home of the famous ‘Doomsday Planes,’ and the celebration commemorated the completion of the renovations and resumption of normal operations.
“This ribbon cutting represents the end of 22 months of off-station operations and the [rebirth] of E-4B heavy maintenance operations at Offutt,” said Lt. Col. Theodore Debonis, 595th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.
Construction crews initially began repairing the facility during the Offutt runway replacement project, which took place February 2021 to October 2022. The crews cut three 25-foot blocks out of the middle of the floor to remove the degraded foundation.
During this time, operations did not stop for the 24/7 no-fail mission of the E-4B. Eight major aircraft inspections on the venerable 747 lasting 30 days each were performed at three different off-station locations.
When the runway reopened and E-4B operations returned to Offutt, the 595th AMXS still didn’t have a hangar for heavy maintenance due to delays in the contracting process and scope of work.
“Today’s ribbon cutting ceremony symbolizes more than the opening of our renovated hanger; it goes much deeper than that,” said Master Sgt. Marc Botts, 595th AMXS. “The men and women of the 595th AMXS have endured countless hours away from their families on off-station TDY’s due to the absence of hangar space.”
Squadron members are glad the renovations are complete.
“Our maintainers are excited for today’s events,” Botts said. “This ceremony begins a new chapter of continued support for America’s premier nuclear command and control communication platform.”
The E-4B serves as the National Airborne Operations Center and is a key component of the National Military Command System for the president, Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In case of national emergency or destruction of ground command and control centers, the E-4B provides a highly survivable command, control and communications center to direct U.S. forces, execute emergency war orders, and coordinate actions by civil authorities.