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Massachusetts Guard helps protect homeless

By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey | 104th Fighter Wing | April 12, 2020

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WESTFIELD, Mass. – Security Forces Airmen from the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, and Soldiers with the 747th Military Police Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard, are providing security for testing sites and shelters for the homeless who may have the coronavirus.

The Airmen and Soldiers are working with the Springfield Police Department to ensure security and safety for the supplies, patients and staff.

Massachusetts National Guard units were activated at the request of Gov. Charlie Baker and are helping at the testing facilities as a joint-task force.

“It is nice Massachusetts is taking the initiative to help the homeless,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Mazaik, 104FW SFS. “We are one big family, and I am glad to help out our city.”

“This is what we are here to help with when there is a national emergency or pandemic,” said Tech. Sgt. Shomeret Chevalier, 104FW SFS, who usually is a full-time student studying health and wellness at Bay Path College in Longmeadow. “That’s what we signed up for, to get to help local people – not just to deploy but actually help our people.”

The security teams are working with Massachusetts Emergency Management interagency partners. The Airmen and Soldiers will help direct traffic to the COVID-19 screening stations and assist their partners on-site as part of a COVID-19 task force.

“It makes you feel good,” said Spc. Alan Navarro of the 747MPC and a native of Methuen. “It is nice to be making a difference in people’s lives.”

“This mission is meaningful and rewarding,” said Spc. Hayley Macdonald of the 747 MPC who also works as a correctional officer cadet in Chicopee. “Our communities are in this together to help and to keep everyone healthy.”