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Shaw Airman paves way for Hurricane Dorian evacuees

A U.S. Air Force F-16CM Viper return to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Sept. 6, 2019, from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, after evacuating Sept. 4, 2019 before Hurricane Dorian’s arrival.

A U.S. Air Force F-16CM Viper returns to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Sept. 6, 2019, from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, after evacuating Sept. 4, 2019 before Hurricane Dorian’s arrival. More than 50 Vipers evacuated Shaw to avoid the storm’s potentially destructive weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- A 20th Contracting Squadron Airman saved thousands of dollars in a new, innovative way by traveling to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Sept. 4, ahead of Shaw’s pilots and F-16 Vipers, who were evacuated due to Hurricane Dorian.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Colleen Toman, a 20th CONS contingency contracting officer, flew ahead of Airmen and aircraft to ensure transportation and lodging was organized for evacuees before they arrived. This allowed pilots and maintainers to focus on their job and ensure they were focused and ready at all times.

“My job was to expedite the process and also streamline the acquisition of lodging and rentals,” said Toman. “When the Shaw team arrived at the airport the vehicles were ready for pickup and I already had their rooms setup.”

The normal process for any group of Airmen travelling stateside for temporary duty involves arranging their own accommodations. Typically, a contract officer is only used in overseas contingency situations. For the first time, Shaw Airmen applied the “overseas” process to stateside travel.

“With a contracting officer being there, I was able to negotiate with the hotel manager directly”, said Toman. “When it came to the contract I wrote with the hotel, we actually got prices less than the lodging per diem.”

Toman said her actions saved the 20th fighter wing approximately $18,000 in travel costs, encouraging a new standard that helps the wing continue to build a smarter, faster force.

“That’s money that can go back into the wing to be used for other necessary things,” said Toman.