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Published October 30, 2012, 08:54 PM

N.J. Flying Tankers Take Shelter From Sandy at GFAFB

Seven aerial refueling aircraft from New Jersey are waiting out Superstorm Sandy at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

Seven aerial refueling aircraft from New Jersey are waiting out Superstorm Sandy at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

The KC-10 Extenders, part of the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., were evacuated Sunday in advance of the storm, which began battering the East Coast Monday.

More than 60 airmen, including pilots, crew and maintenance personnel arrived with the tankers.

“We’ve maxed out base lodging,” said Maj. Chad Bowden, director of operations with the 319th Operations Support Squadron based in Grand Forks.

McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst remains open, but was operating Monday afternoon with only essential personnel as heavy rain and high winds hammered the region. Base personnel began damage assessment and recovery Tuesday.

The base has a population of 42,000 and is in central New Jersey where, according to CNN, an estimated 2.3 million people were without electricity Tuesday morning.

The aircraft and airmen from New Jersey are expected to remain in Grand Forks until today or Thursday.

“They remain on standby while they wait for their next mission, whether that is to return to their home base or to go elsewhere,” said base spokesman Tim Flack.

Grand Fork Air Force Base has hosted evacuated aircraft two other times in the past 14 months: in August 2011 during Hurricane Irene and in April and May 2012 because of tornados and severe thunderstorms in the Midwest, according to Flack.

“We here at Grand Forks Air Force Base are proud of our ability to support our wingmen in a time of need such as this,” he said.

While the base has never been home to KC-10s, it was an air refueling base equipped with KC-135 Stratotankers until December 2010.

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