New commander of Keesler's 403rd talks about furlough

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The new commander of the 403rd Air Wing at Keesler Air Force Base was facing a rather unusual situation after only being on the job a few weeks. Colonel Frank Amodeo took over September 14th, but soon was dealing with a possible hurricane and the government shutdown. Like hundreds of thousands of other government employees, the Hurricane Hunters had been furloughed.

"It was challenging," Colonel Amodeo told WLOX News. "If I don't have all my people in place to do the mission, then certainly it can cause some shuffling and others have to step up."

As Tropical Storm Karen approached the Gulf Coast, the Hurricane Hunters were called back to work. But the mission had to operate out of Houston, Texas because Karen was threatening our area. Fortunately, Karen turned out to be a non-event and all was back to normal within a few days.

Along with the Hurricane Hunters, as commander of the 403rd, Colonel Amodeo is also in charge of 10 C-130s that do the war fighting mission. There has been speculation for months now, that group may be moved away from Keesler.

"Those discussions have come to a halt right now," the colonel said. "I don't expect any movement on that until at least 2014, " he said. The colonel added that those discussions are, as he put it, "way above my pay grade."

Although he has only been here for a month, Colonel Amodeo and his family told us they are already impressed with what they see here. He said they marvel at what a great relationship the military and the community have here.

Amodeo comes to the coast from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

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