COLUMBIA SC Military personnel from South Carolina’s coast have begun trickling into Fort Jackson in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew.
About 200 Army and Navy personnel from the Charleston area began arriving Wednesday night, after an evacuation order was issued at Joint Base Charleston.
“It’s more than a handful, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge deal,” Fort Jackson spokesman Pat Jones said.
The Charleston base, which includes a mix of commands from various military branches, ordered most of its personnel to evacuate individually, rather than as a unit, according to the base’s Website. They were offered a per diem to move themselves and their families to a safe haven of their choice, just as civilians do, with the added option of moving to another military installation.
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Fort Jackson is the nation’s largest training base, with plenty of barrack space to absorb evacuating soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, Jones said. For instance, each week a battalion of recruits graduate from basic training and ship out, which opens an entire barracks of about 1,000 beds. And there are plenty of other on-post housing options, including temporary barracks, hotels, apartments and single-family dwellings.
However, the largest number of troops required to be evacuated as a group – recruits training at the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot near Beaufort — were transferred Wednesday to a Marine Corps base in Albany, Ga., according to its Facebook page.
F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter have been readied to fly to another, undisclosed base if necessary, and all non-essential personnel have been dismissed on Friday, according to the base’s Website.
Non-essential personnel from U.S. Army Central at Shaw have been dismissed Friday and Monday, a spokesman said..
F-16s and Apache and Blackhawk at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover are expected to be hangared if necessary, a spokesman said. Some helicopters have been transferred to a facility in Greenville.
F/A-18 and F-35 fighter jets at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort have been moved to another, undisclosed location, a spokesman for the air station said.
About 1,500 S.C. National Guard soldiers have been activated to assist police and first responders with evacuation efforts, mostly in the Lowcountry, a spokeswoman said.