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Hurricane Hunters receive awards for tracking storms

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Air Force reservists in the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron here received two awards in March for their work during the 2004 hurricane season.

The Hurricane Hunters logged more than 80 flights into tropical storms in August and September. At times they tracked two storms simultaneously.

Maj. Gen. James Bankers, 22nd Air Force commander, and Brig. Gen. Richard Moss, 403rd Wing commander, accepted the Meteorology Award on their behalf March 24 during the 27th Annual National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans.

John Wilson, director of public safety for Lee County, Fort Meyers, Fla., and the chairman of the National Hurricane Conference presented the award. Also on hand was Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, in Miami.

“The National Hurricane Warning Program is as good as it is because of the efforts of the Air Force’s Hurricane Hunters,” Mr. Mayfield said. “The Air Force Reserve has done an outstanding job, and I’m glad to be a part of that team.”

The award recognized their achievements during one of the most furious storm seasons of the century. The Air Force Reserve Command unit flies WC-130 aircraft directly into hurricanes, tropical storms, winter storms and other significant weather events in order to warn coastal residents and various municipalities and agencies of dangerous storms.

On March 11, the unit received the 2004 Richard H. Hagemeyer Award at the 2005 Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference in Jacksonville, Fla. This award went to the reservists for their heroic efforts and contributions to the nation’s Hurricane Warning Program.

Presented annually, the award honors the longtime director of the National Weather Service Pacific Region and supporter of the Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference. Mr. Hagemeyer earned international recognition for leadership in developing the U.S. Tsunami Warning Program and modernizing weather services in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific Region.

“I am delighted the 403rd Wing’s Hurricane Hunters were recognized for their hard work during a challenging year,” General Bankers said. “This award also reflects the teamwork of maintainers and support professionals who keep them on-time and in the air when they’re needed.”