It was the Warren M-01 facility manager and security forces team, along with a Colorado state roads and grounds crew who came to the unidentified man's aid...
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F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- He had been stranded -- his vehicle engulfed by four-foot drifts of snow -- for 13 hours by the time he was rescued.
It was the Warren M-01 facility manager and security forces team, along with a Colorado state roads and grounds crew who came to the unidentified man's aid.
The Logan County Sherriff's Department requested ground search and rescue assistance during the blizzard at 3:14 a.m., Dec. 21. They believed the stranded motorist was near M-01, which is a missile alert facility located northwest of Sterling, Colo.
The facility manager, Tech. Sgt. Mark Symonds, along with security forces members, Staff Sergeant Anthony Pistella, Senior Airman Samantha Betchard and Airman Steven Cottrell, left at 3:30 a.m. to begin searching in the blizzard. The flight security controller, Senior Airman Daida Garcia-Ortiz, coordinated the team with base leadership.
"Airman Garcia-Ortiz really helped a lot," said Airman Cottrell. "She was our eyes and ears away from the MAF."
Sergeant Symonds, who spent 10 years in North Dakota, wasn't daunted by the more than 15 inches of snow that fell in the region. He drove a Case front-end loader and bladed the way for the security forces troops in the Ford F-350.
"Sometimes I couldn't see more than five feet in front of my face," said Sergeant Symonds. "It took us four hours to travel two miles."
Sergeant Symonds would scoop snow and dump it so the security forces vehicle could travel. After five hours, the Warren crew met up with the state crew and came upon the stranded driver shortly thereafter.
"He didn't say much," said Sergeant Symonds about the man they rescued. "I don't know if he was in shock or just worn down from being stuck that long."
The man went with the state roads and grounds crew, who ensured he was alright and not frostbitten.
"I'm very proud of the heroism this team showed," said Lt. Col. Christopher Coffelt, 321st Missile Squadron commander. "This is the stuff they do everyday -- put the safety and security of the nation to the forefront."