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655th ISR Wing reservist aids Dayton area tornado victims

655th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing, 71st Intelligence Squadron, Director of Operations Maj. Miller (first name withheld) and another volunteer repair a structure at a Dayton area farm June 1, 2019. Several tornados caused several injuries and severe property damage earlier in the week.

655th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing, 71st Intelligence Squadron, Director of Operations Maj. Miller (first name withheld) and another volunteer repair a structure at a Dayton area farm June 1, 2019. Several tornados caused several injuries and severe property damage earlier in the week.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --

May 28, 2019 saw a record 18 tornados touch down in Ohio with several of those causing massive destruction in the communities around Dayton. Among the most affected areas were Miami, Montgomery and Greene counties.  

One of the tornados that hit the area was classified by the National Weather Service as a rare but “violent” EF4, which can reach wind speeds up to 200 miles per hour. The storm injured several people and caused mass power outages and extensive damage to homes, businesses, and roads by the end of Memorial Day.

655th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing, 71st Intelligence Squadron, Director of Operations Maj. Miller (first name withheld) resides in the local area with his wife and four children. They were all home during the tornado activity.

“We first heard the tornado warnings on the news and from the weather alert apps on our phones,” Miller said. “We then took shelter for about 30 to 45 minutes.”

The Miller residence lost power and cell service, but otherwise didn’t sustain any damage. Not knowing the extent of the damage, Miller reported to duty at the 71st the next day while his wife made phone calls and scanned social media and news reports of the damage. 

Discovering that the home of a family from their church had been affected, Miller took leave that afternoon and he, his wife and children loaded up supplies in his truck and drove to the family’s home. During the trip, they discovered the extent of the damage and all pitched in to help clear trees and other debris from affected properties.

“I grew up in a military family, so I’ve always had the desire to serve. Because we were not adversely affected, my family felt the responsibility to help our neighbors who were.”

Two days after the tornados hit the area, the Millers prepared and delivered meals to victims and even opened their home so those without power or water could take showers. This continued on the following day with Mrs. Miller spending the day additionally cleaning laundry for others.

The storms also severely damaged a local farm. On June 1st, the Miller family along with several other volunteers gathered at the farm at 6:30 a.m. and spent the day performing repairs.

Other members of the 655 ISRW participated in clean-up and recovery efforts, but wished to remain anonymous.  

“I didn’t do it for recognition,” one member said. “I had a chainsaw and saw that I could help, so I did. I had to. I just wish it hadn’t been under those circumstances.”

Miller reinforced the sentiment.

“Reserve Citizen Airmen have a special connection to the local community that we work and live in, so that adds to the inclination to help out your neighbors and fellow man. It is an example of the responsibility that everyone who wears the uniform shares.”

The 655 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing is dedicated to serving as the premier and most diverse ISR Group in the United States Air Force, delivering timely, reliable, accurate and actionable intelligence products enabling a decision advantage over adversaries of the United States.  The 655th is an independent wing under 10th Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, and consists of two Groups and 14 intelligence squadrons (IS) across Ohio, California, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, Florida and Maryland conducting 10 distinct missions.  For exciting and rewarding career opportunities with the 655 ISRG, please contact your local Air Force Reserve recruiter or call 937-257-8117.