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    Space Soldier mobilizes to fight pandemic

    Space Soldier mobilizes to fight pandemic

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Rognstad | Chief Warrant Officer 2 Oscar Alcala, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Space...... read more read more

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- When one U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Reserve Soldier’s civilian career came to a halt when his Colorado-based furniture store announced it was closing indefinitely due to the coronavirus, he volunteered to help fight it.

    Chief Warrant Officer 2 Oscar Alcala, battalion motor officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, mobilized from early April to late May with Task Force 76 in Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 8, to Fort Douglas, Utah, where he tracked equipment readiness as a maintenance officer-in-charge, making sure everything from vehicles to thermometers worked.

    “All of a sudden I am unemployed. I saw (the mobilization) as a good opportunity to help out and stay afloat at the same time," Alcala said. “I made sure all the equipment was up to par and passed inspections. If you don’t have operational equipment, you aren’t going to get very far.”

    Alcala was part of Operations Group Delta, in charge of the command and control side of operations tasked to respond to civil authorities for emergency situations in response to the pandemic. Additionally, the group facilitated an emergency response plan for U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers on Title 10 orders who were coming down with COVID-19. The group also sent a detachment to Seattle to aid in the preliminary construction of a temporary 250-bed hospital inside CenturyLink Field Event Center.

    During his mobilization, Alcala lived out of a nearby hotel. It was the largest domestic military mobilization since 9/11, when he also answered the call to duty. Alcala also volunteered for a four-month airport security stint shortly after the twin towers fell at the Cortez Municipal Airport when he was in the Colorado Army National Guard as a 21-year-old specialist.

    Just as he did for his 9/11 mobilization, Alcala lived out of a nearby hotel, where he and his fellow Soldiers walked to work every morning, and went about their day-to-day job duties. During what little free time they had, they hiked around the surrounding foothills abutting the small military installation for exercise and leisure, and watched movies or Facetimed loved ones back home, as the ghost town of Salt Lake City lay sleeping outside the fort’s gate.

    “Everything was closed. It was surreal. The city was dead,” said Alcala. “We ate our meals in the DFAC (dining facility) and didn’t go anywhere except hiking all over the mountains. It seemed like everyone had the same idea too. People were out in numbers enjoying the trails and the outdoors.”

    Alcala, age 41, a furniture sales manager, received word his Pueblo, Colorado-based store, Furniture Row, would indefinitely close due to the public health emergency in mid-March, so the timing of the mobilization was good.

    “All of a sudden I am unemployed,” Alcala said. “I saw it as a good opportunity to help out and stay afloat at the same time.”

    Sgt. Maj. Michael Aschinger, sustainment senior enlisted advisor for Operations Group Delta Task Force 76 at Fort Douglas, had high praise for Alcala and his team for their efforts during the mobilization.

    “These guys didn’t know what they were getting themselves involved in,” he said. “But they all did an outstanding job and we accomplished our mission. I’d serve with that group any day and do it all over again.”

    Alcala expressed similar sentiments.

    “Given the opportunity I would do it again. It’s nice to know that I was able to help out a little bit,” he said. “Every Soldier wants to do their part and help their country; their community. This was a real-world mission on our home front. These types of missions don’t exactly come around every day. This is what I get up for in the morning.”



    Date Taken: 09.08.2020
    Date Posted: 09.08.2020 12:02
    Story ID: 377592
    Location: CO, US

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