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    A Stitch in Time Saves Nine: USSOCOM and USSOCCENT Riggers Provide Manpower to Make Face Coverings

    A Stitch in Time Saves Nine: USSOCOM and USSOCCENT Riggers Provide Manpower to Make Face Coverings

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Steven Colvin | Army Staff Sgt. Robert Little (left), a U.S. Special Operations Command-Central...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Steven Colvin 

    U.S. Special Operations Command Central

    Special Operations Parachute Riggers have leveraged their occupational skill set to protect the force by sewing protective face coverings on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., since April 7, 2020.
    During this time of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many are doing what they can to stay safe and help defend against the spread of the virus. The riggers from U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Special Operations Command-Central shifted from their high-tempo work routines and repurposed their government issued sewing machines to produce cloth face coverings to help protect their teammates.
    A parachute rigger is licensed and trained to understand fabrics, hardware, webbing, regulations, sewing, packing, and other aspects related to the building, packing, repair, and maintenance of parachutes. The riggers were already equipped and knew they could seamlessly make the transition from sewing and repairing parachutes to making re-usable face coverings.
    “When our leadership asked us to take on this task, we knew we could do it,” said Army Staff Sgt. Johnny Kazmierczak, SOCCENT’s senior parachute rigger. “We already had the equipment and the material to make the ties. All we needed was the cotton cloth.”
    The decision to make these face coverings is in line with the Department of Defense requirement in support of the number one priority – protecting our troops and families. This effort was a combination of creative leadership and special operations initiative; knowing that they must do something to help protect the work force from exposure.
    “A couple of weeks ago, we heard 1st Special Forces Group say they were making masks, so we at SOCOM and SOCCENT decided to collaborate our efforts to help protect our forces by following suit,” said Army 1st Sgt. Eric Carpenter, the senior enlisted leader for SOCCENT HQ Commandant’s office. “The following day, the Secretary of Defense put out a guidance all Department of Defense personnel will wear masks at work every day – we were already prepared.”
    The small group of team members collaborated and went to work immediately. By the use of materials on hand and the purchase of cotton cloth from the local economy, the riggers turned their jump simulation training room into a sew shop.
    “Our jump simulation training room has always been our maintenance section and at the end of the day, we take the time to sanitize it to make sure we are prepared for whatever mission comes our way,” said Kazmierczak.
    The team seized the initiative on a new mission – to make re-usable cloth face coverings to help protect the force during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    There is a shortage of medical supplies, so masks and gloves are being reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested individuals make their own masks using cloth material to help prevent the spread of the virus. The CDC provided guidance how to make these masks.
    “We printed out a copy of the CDC’s guidelines showing us how to make re-usable cloth masks,” said Army 1st Sgt. Corey Calkins, USSOCOM’s First Sergeant and the Incident Management Team operations noncommissioned officer. “We went out and got cotton material and used cotton straps, which we had on hand rather than elastic straps. That was the only modification we made.”
    Special operation forces are trained to adapt to whatever mission comes their way - whether that mission is overseas or here at home station. Nevertheless, their mandate is to be adaptive and innovative.
    “As a U.S. Army leader, two important phrases stick out to me – accomplishing the mission and always placing the needs of my Soldiers above my own,” said Carpenter. “The riggers saw an opportunity to capitalize and take care of the force. I really appreciate their creativity and adaptability in shifting from one mission to another to meet the need at hand.”
    In just over a week, the five-person rigger team made more than 1,000 re-usable cloth face coverings and distributed them to the SOCOM and SOCCENT enterprise.
    “Our riggers have been coming to work every day since April 7, to make masks.” said Kazmierczak. “We started out making 100 masks a day, splitting the number between SOCOM and SOCCENT. Now we are making 150 per day.”
    Senior leaders from both headquarters have been impressed with the resolve and motivation of the parachute riggers.
    “Being in special operations we’re use to a change in mission, said Calkins. “Seeing the riggers’ ability to shift from their day-to-day routine and take on an unusual, yet important mission as this is absolutely impressive.”
    The riggers may have shifted from their day-to-day routines, but for now, making masks is top priority for them.
    “Making these masks is very important to all of us here,” said Kazmierczak. “People are already going through a lot of changes due to COVID-19 and if we can make them worry a little less then we have done our job.”
    The riggers will continue to make cloth face coverings for SOCOM and SOCCENT as long as needed. (Story by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin/released)



    Date Taken: 04.21.2020
    Date Posted: 04.21.2020 13:24
    Story ID: 367969
    Location: TAMPA, FL, US 

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