Dual Hatted for Corona Pandemic
By Senior Airman Ruben Rios, 514th Air Mobility Wing
/ Published April 24, 2020
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST -- Millions of people, around the world, are showing compassion and fighting through these odd times.
From celebrities hosting “good news” channels; to entire sports leagues creating and delivering medical supplies; to the local pizza shop supplying free food to medical personal on the front lines—human beings are showing their human sides like never before.
Leaders from the military, law enforcement, medical, and emergency response sectors are working overtime—literally—not only to flatten the curve of this pandemic but to be there for the members who work under them.
This is the case for Senior Master Sgt. David Gold, , first sergeant at the 514th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
“I take great pride and joy in being able to supervise my younger folks,” said Gold. “I try to teach them, talk to them, and pass on information that I didn’t have when I was in their shoes.”
Gold, who not only serves as a first sergeant at the Freedom Wing in the Air Force Reserve but also as a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, feels a responsibility to the members under him in both jobs during this pandemic.
“The various ‘hats' I wear are required in both jobs,” said Gold. “There are many responsibilities when you’re dealing with younger folks and I do not take those lightly.”
With the increase in numbers of those affected by the Coronavirus, not to mention the escalating death toll, the frequency in which Gold wears these “hats” has also increased.
“In both jobs, at times, officers and first shirts are like counselors for folks,” said Gold. “Other times we’re acting as a chaplain or even a social worker. We wear all these hats while doing our job.”
These added responsibilities, however, do not phase Gold.
“As a lieutenant in the fire department and a first shirt in the Air Force, I am not letting this pandemic affect my duties as a mentor,” said Gold. “I am still having one-on-one conversations with any members that need counseling—just virtually.”
On a normal day-to-day, Gold and his firefighting crew remain vigilant as they serve the city and people of New York.
“Everything has changed,” said Gold. “We’re keeping it in mind to protect ourselves every time we go on calls—especially medical calls. We constantly wash our hands and constantly make sure we don’t touch our face.”
As first responders during the corona pandemic, it was never a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” members would begin to contract the virus.
“If anyone is sick we make sure they don’t come to the firehouse,” said Gold. “It’s very important to be careful and monitor yourself for symptoms. If you are sick, stay home.”
The military has also taken measures to try to shorten the lifespan of the pandemic.
“In terms of the Air Force, non-essential members are not allowed to go to base or participate,” said Gold. “Things have changed dramatically.”
Gold, who began his military career in September of 1993 and his fire department career in 1996, has seen his share of disasters and crises, admits that nothing like the Coronavirus pandemic has happened before.
“I’ve been in the military and on-the-job through 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, H1N1, bird flu and other emergencies and disasters but I’ve never experienced anything like what we’re experiencing today,” said Gold. “It’s unprecedented compared to anything we’ve seen before; we’re part of the history books now.”
Through it all, however, Gold remains headstrong in his role as a leader.
“My position in both careers mandates the need to be a compassionate leader—a sympathetic leader—but it’s requires being firm and taking action when it is needed,” said Gold. “You need to be a calming voice for everyone when they are struggling with loss, such as a loved one, or difficulties, such as not receiving a paycheck.”
Many, like Gold, know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Human beings have the ability to adapt and face adversity—and that is exactly what we will do with Covid-19.
“I think at the end of all of this we will realize there is so much to be grateful for,” said Gold. “Until then, it is important we stay mindful and compassionate of what everyone is going through and just try to help one another the best we can.”