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    927th Air Refueling Wing Citizen Airmen successfully deploy amid pandemic

    927th Air Refueling Wing Citizen Airmen successfully deploy amid pandemic

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Bradley Tipton | Air Force Staff Sgt. McPhearson, 927th Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight and...... read more read more

    MacDill Air Force Base, Fla – The 927th Air Refueling Wing successfully deployed aircrew and maintainers to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to provide refueling support to U.S. and allied aircraft. With the COVID-19 pandemic still in swing, the normal challenges associated with preparing and deploying personnel were complicated by a need for increased hygiene and testing procedures to maintain readiness of the force.
    “We have to limit exposure, and as reservists, many of our exposures happen outside of drill, in their daily lives.” said Col. Jennifer Ratcliff, 927th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander.
    “We had to base testing and subsequent restriction of movement around the timing of the deployment.”
    The concerted effort between several of the 927th ARW’s squadrons and MacDill’s host organization, the 6th Air Refueling Wing, culminated in the successful departure during the December Unit Training Assembly weekend. In short order, KC-135 aircraft from MacDill’s flight line took flight carrying healthy, prepared Airmen ready to add their skill set to on-going anti-terrorism efforts in the Central Command region.
    “When COVID hit, it very rapidly drove changes to our requirements.” Said Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Szymanski, 927th Logistics Readiness Squadron Superintendent of Deployment and Distribution.
    “Communication has been key. Not only between all of our LRS Airmen of different AFSCs, [Air Force Specialty Codes] but also outside agencies to adjust for things like generating orders, procuring equipment and uniforms, transportation, among many others.”
    The deploying Airmen undertook numerous precautions including COVID-19 testing through the 927th Aerospace Medicine Squadron and a strict fourteen-day quarantine ahead of departure. According to Master Sgt. Lorimar Rivera, section chief of Aerospace Operational Medicine, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the medical mission is still chiefly to provide care to the deploying members in a timely fashion.
    “Our mission is to get deployers medically cleared, green, and out the door,” said Rivera.
    “It’s important that they’re in their prime condition and we review every single member thoroughly before sending them into austere environments.”
    From sanitizing aircraft flight decks to donning masks and PPE, Airmen have adapted the new protective strategies and integrated them into the battle rhythm. According to Capt. Shannon Callan, 63rd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 pilot, the key has been the relationships and communication between organizations including maintenance, operations, logistics, medical, support and more across the entire installation.
    “This time we really had to push to work cohesively with Wing agencies to get out of the door in a safe effective manner.” said Callan.
    “Going through this preparation process with your crew members and maintainers well in advance really helps with cohesiveness and crew resource management.”
    Rapidly refining the processes and procedures that made this a safe and successful deployment of personnel and assets is one way that the Citizen Airmen of the 927th Air Refueling Wing are striving to achieve the U.S. Air Force’s goal of accelerating the pace of innovation.
    “Things operate a little differently for us as reservists, and we document our lessons learned and incorporate them into our Reserve-centric deployment plan to benefit those down the road.” Said Szymanski



    Date Taken: 12.11.2020
    Date Posted: 12.17.2020 12:56
    Story ID: 384807
    Location: US

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