SAVANNAH, Ga.– More than 30 Airmen from the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, demobilized March 18 after volunteering to serve on the Georgia Coronavirus Response Task Force.
These multi-capable Airmen from various career fields have served more than 60 days spread out across 15 COVID testing sites and 11 hospitals throughout Georgia. They are a mix of members from the wing or one of its geographically separated units, the 117th Air Control Squadron at Hunter Army Airfield or the 224th Joint Communications Support Squadron in Brunswick.
“As a Guardsman, in the back of your mind you always know that you may be called upon for any number of situations that support the community,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Robert S. Noren, 165th AW commander. “Just over two years ago, a global pandemic was one of the least likely scenarios we expected, but our Airmen have adapted to the challenges and have proven their resiliency throughout the COVID-19 mission.”
Gov. Brian Kemp called on the 165th Airlift Wing in March 2020 to provide a wide range of support to the residents of Georgia, including medical support teams and assistance at testing sites and public health call centers. In April 2020, more Airmen were called on to disinfect government buildings and senior living facilities.
“The skill sets our Airmen have showcased highlights their commitment to the minuteman ethos of ‘Always Ready, Always There,’ and I am proud of the support our people provided to the front-line workers to help alleviate the strain the pandemic had on our health care system,” Noren said.
The past 24 months, the 165th Airlift Wing activated over 200 Guard members who cleaned more than 19,500 rooms at 248 facilities, administered 22,272 COVID-19 tests and 220,515 vaccinations.
Tech. Sgt. Lonnie Jarvis, a medic from the 117th Air Control Squadron who was on the initial March 2020 task force, said remaining flexible was the key to success during this pandemic.
“We never knew what to expect going into each shift, but we just did our best and helped wherever we could,” said Jarvis.
Senior Airman Jessie Adams, a cybersecurity specialist with the 165th Communications Flight, was activated three times and served a total of 12 months on the task force.
“Serving out in the community during the pandemic made me realize how much is actually required of nurses to care for patients and just how stretched hospital staff have been throughout this time,” said Adams. ”Even though our tasks sometimes seemed like very small things, they made a big difference for the nurses and it felt good to be a part of it.”
Jarvis said it was great to make a difference in her community.
“This experience has confirmed the overall reason I decided to serve in the Air National Guard, and it feels absolutely outstanding to have been a part of it,” Jarvis said.