Freedom Wing Command Team Assists in Fighting Global Pandemic

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kimberly Lalley
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

On Palm Sunday, more than 120 Reserve Citizen Airmen from around the nation, arrived at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., to fight the coronavirus outbreak in New York City. They are doctors, nurses, respiratory technicians and support functions.

Today, the medical personnel will be working out of three local hospitals in New York City to assist in the fight against COVID-19. Col. Thomas O. Pemberton, 514th Air Mobility Wing commander, says this is a win-win for all. The communities are getting much needed help and the reservists are receiving valuable hands-on training of their clinical skills.

When Pemberton got the call from Lt Gen Richard Scobee, Air Force Reserve Command commander, he knew the leadership team needed to be made up of reservists to assist with any issues that may arise. The Air Force’s number one priority is to take care of Americans, Airmen and their families.

The 64th Air Expeditionary Group was reactivated here on Sunday and is made up of a commander, command chief, and first sergeant all from the Freedom Wing. In addition, they have a three member team for Personnel Support for Contingency Operations (PERSCO) from the 514th Force Support Squadron.

Our Freedom Wing leadership team is well poised to assist this Air Expeditionary Group of healthcare providers. They were handpicked by Pemberton and Chief Master Sgt. Dana L. Capaldi, 514th AMW command chief.

Col. Adrian R. Byers, vice commander, 514th AMW, is now the 64th AEG commander. “Our Airmen never cease to amaze me,” said Byers. “We always talk about the fact we have 72 hours to answer a mobilization effort but in this case 125 Airmen were identified, mobilized, and deployed inside 48 hours; within 24 hours they were part of the fight against this dangerous virus.”

“I’m humbled to be their commander, as they all clearly exude one of our most cherished core values – service before self,” Byers said.

Chief Master Sgt. Len Werner, 64th AEG command chief, is working alongside Byers and two of the PERSCO members at JBMDL. He’s amazed to see the quick response of receiving medical personnel in such a short time, some as far away as Hawaii.

“All are accounted for in NYC and hit the ground running at three hospitals,” Werner said.

Senior Master Sgt. Michael B. Moody is forward deployed in NYC at the Javits Center as the 64th AEG first sergeant. The Air Force Reservists quickly organized and were mobilized to the local hospitals based on their medical specialties. They built three cohesive teams working with the Navy, Army and NYC Health + Hospitals. The teams were assigned to specific hospitals today to get oriented and credentialed. Moody has been in the Air Force for 24 years, he’s a maintainer by trade, and is impressed with how medical personnel speak their own language and are super supportive of each other. His goal as a first sergeant is to lift any burdens for them so they can focus on what they need to do.

Staff Sgt. Awa B. Diakhate, personnel specialist with the 514th FSS, is on the scene for PERSCO at the Javits Center. She found it amazing to be a part of such a large scale operation in less than 24 hours after a Unit Training Assembly. She is humbled to see how fast the Air Force Reserve came together in this joint operation in the biggest city in North America.

“I’m having that feeling I had back in basic training, joining something bigger than me,” she said.