Wright-Patt, AF museum closed today due to snowfall

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 8:27 AM

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A snowstorm that swept across the Miami Valley closed Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, giving a winter day off to thousands of employees at the state’s largest single-site employer.

Snowfall that caused deteriorating road conditions also shuttered the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force the largest tourist attraction in the region, and Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park sites, including the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center in Dayton and the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center near Wright-Patterson, according to federal officials.

“We got more snow than we expected on base and due to snow accumulations and the condition of the roads, both on the base and in the surrounding area, a decision was made to close the base,” said Wright-Patterson spokeswoman Marie Vanover.

Wright State University closed in Fairborn and dozens of school districts canceled classes Wednesday with closures that extended into evening activities throughout the Miami Valley.

Drivers faced snow-covered roads and freeways, causing dozens of weather-related slide-offs into ditches and crashes, on a slower-than-usual trek into work during the morning commute. Miami Valley snow totals ranged from a peak of 4.5 inches in Centerville to just over an inch at Dayton International Airport, according to National Weather Service tracking.

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WHIO-TV Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs forecast temperatures slowly climbing into 40s by the weekend, with another dip in temperatures Sunday.

“This swing in temperatures comes with another storm system and the chance for snow,” she said. “Early indications reveal the chance for rain on Saturday then switching to snow at night. Another light accumulation of snow is possible by the end of the weekend. Still too soon to say how much, but something to watch in the coming days.”

Julius Wilson, a civilian employee, trekked to Wright-Patterson from Montgomery, Ala., for three-weeks of training only to discover canceled classes Wednesday.

“I actually dreaded coming up here, but I packed pretty warm, so I’m pretty OK,” he said.

The sprawling military installation faced a large hurdle clearing roads, flight lines and parking lots during the snowfall, according to Vanover. Wright-Patterson Medical Center was operating as scheduled.

Wright-Patterson weather forecasters recorded 3.9 inches of snow in Area A with unofficial reports of up to five inches in Area B, she said.

Civil service and military personnel will be put on a paid administrative leave day, she said.

Base essential personnel, such as police and firefighters, were expected to report to work, she said. The base counts about 27,000 military and civilian personnel who work at the installation.

Initially, Wright-Patterson officials imposed a two-hour delay to start the work day before the decision was made to cancel. On a typical work day, most employees arrive between 6:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.

The closure order was sent around 8:45 a.m., she said.

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The initial decision to delay was based on weather conditions base authorities faced when they talked about the evolving situation between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., she said.

“The conditions at the time may or may not be what they could be or might be later in the day,” she said. “At that time in the morning, we’re making a decision based on the current situation that is presented to us.”

The installation commander determines if weather conditions should impact work arrival times, or if the base should be closed, she said.

“When those conditions change, we regroup and make (another) determination,” she said.

Wright-Patterson has shut down several times in recent years because of heavy snowfall, bitterly cold temperatures and freezing rain, Dayton Daily News archives shows.

The day off Wednesday followed a one-day workweek furlough of 8,600 civil service workers at Wright-Patterson on Jan. 22 in the midst of a three-day partial federal government shutdown.

WHIO-TV’s John Bedell contributed to this story.

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Book chronicles heroism of war correspondents like OSU’s Cecil Brown

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 4:49 PM

As he scanned the names of the past winners of the Peabody award for broadcast journalism, Reed Smith, a professor of journalism at Georgia Southern University, came across the name Cecil Brown of CBS and admitted he “had never heard of him before.”

It began a four-year effort by Smith that culminated last November in the release of his book, “Cecil Brown: The Murrow Boy Who Became Broadcasting’s Crusader for Truth.” It’s the story of an Ohio State University student from 1929 who reached the pinnacle of broadcast journalism during World War II and the era of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

Smith became fascinated with Brown’s story and it is easy to see why. As a CBS Radio broadcaster in Singapore in December 1941 he nearly lost his life when Japanese torpedo bombers sank the British battlecruiser Repulse in the South China Sea. Brown was a correspondent on the Repulse.

His gripping minute-by-minute account of the disaster for CBS, which also included the destruction of the British battleship Prince of Wales, earned him the Peabody award and transformed him into one of the best-known correspondents of World War II.

“There were upwards of a thousand sailors who died during that attack,” Smith said. “He was not wounded during attack and fortunately was able to get off the ship. A British sailor reached out in the water off a Carley Float and grabbed him. Cecil thought he had just about had it. It was pretty miraculous.”

Brown also was known for his legendary battles with Italian and British censors in World II as they tried to block or alter his broadcasts, prompting Smith to describe Brown as “very feisty. He was a big First Amendment guy and he became quite exasperated when anybody tried to curtail his freedom of the press.”

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For Smith, 68, it was a case of one Ohio man meeting another. Smith, a graduate of Ohio University who earned an M.A. from Bowling Green and then a Ph.D from Ohio University, grew up in New Concord. Brown, who died in 1987, was raised in Warren, married a woman from Columbus who is still alive in Los Angeles at age 104.

He left Ohio State nine hours short of a degree in 1929 and worked as a reporter for a number of years before Edward R. Murrow hired him at CBS Radio in 1940 and assigned him to cover the war from Rome.

Brown reported in an entirely different era than today when journalists are under relentless attacks from President Donald Trump and many conservatives.

“It tells us the public view of journalism has changed drastically over the past 70 years,” Smith said. “Murrow and Cecil were seen as heroes. They were brave men in the war zone telling the truth for what was going on and continuing to get in trouble for telling the truth.”

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Work to start next month on $10.5 million Wright-Patt gateway

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 5:30 PM


            Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Gate 16A, a commercial truck screening checkpoint, will be consolidated with a new Gate 26A in 2019 in a $10.5 million construction project. JIM WITMER | 2011 STAFF FILE PHOTO
            Jim Witmer
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Gate 16A, a commercial truck screening checkpoint, will be consolidated with a new Gate 26A in 2019 in a $10.5 million construction project. JIM WITMER | 2011 STAFF FILE PHOTO(Jim Witmer)

A new $10.5 million gateway that will consolidate two Wright-Patterson entrances into one is set to begin construction next month, a base spokesman says.

A new Gate 26A, a few hundred yards from the current one, would replace a commercial delivery entrance at Gate 16A off Ohio 444, and the existing Gate 26A off Ohio 235 near the entrance to the 445th Airlift Wing headquarters.

The new entrance way off Ohio 235 will be sited between Sandhill Road and Circle Drive, according to Wright-Patterson spokesman Daryl Mayer.

Work was scheduled for completion at the end of next year, the base said.

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Top Gun pilot to speak at film screening

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 6:04 PM


            The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

A real-life Top Gun is scheduled to be at a screening of Top Gun 3D at the Air Force Museum Theatre.

Retired Navy Capt. Ken Ginader, a former Top Gun instructor and F-14 pilot, was set to speak at the screening of film, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Ginader is the first speaker in the 2018 Living History Film Series at the museum.

Tickets cost $12 for audience members, or $10 for members of Friends of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

For more information, click onto http://www.afmuseum.com/livinghistory .

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AF museum opens, Wright-Patt workers head to work as shutdown ends

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 9:20 AM


            The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

President Donald Trump has signed a two-year budget deal Friday that ended a government shutdown overnight Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

Wright-Patterson employees were told to report to work Friday despite a possible shutdown and had been in a holding pattern waiting for additional word until the president signed the legislation.

RELATED: Wright-Patt workers told to report to work Friday despite shutdown

Base spokesman Daryl Mayer said no orders had been issued to send civil service employees home and the base was awaiting official word the shutdown — which lasted less than nine hours — was over.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which closed after opening for four hours on the first day of a three-day shutdown last month, opened Friday morning as scheduled, according to spokeswoman Diana Bachert.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park locations at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center in Dayton and Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center near Wright-Patterson also were open.

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The partial federal government shutdown was the second in less than three weeks, the last occurring Jan.20-22.

Wright-Patterson sent home 8,600 Wright-Patterson civil service workers on a one-day work week furlough Monday, Jan. 22.

Overnight Thursday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took the floor of the Senate to decry the increase in debt spending, which delayed a vote on the two-year deal until after the midnight shutdown deadline.

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