ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. --
On July 23, 2020, the 177th Fighter Wing commander briefed members of his leadership team that all Jersey Devils were off of the NJ COVID-19 Response mission.
The over four-month long odyssey of support for the state ran the gamut from helping to set-up and run community-based, mobile COVID-19 testing sites, to helping NJ Joint Task Force 57 with creating additional medical capacity by setting up Federal Medical Stations in conjunction with numerous organizations, including the FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Health, the Office of Emergency Management, and the New Jersey National Guard. 177th Fighter Wing Airmen provided logistical support to include transportation and distribution of medical supplies, assisting with patient care and support of the State’s Memorial Veteran’s Homes and providing meals to Veteran’s Haven facilities. After helping to create additional medical capacity, Jersey Devils participated in the tear-down, pack-up and inventory of the supplies, as well as caching them for future use.
“We are off the NJ COVID-19 response mission, but standing at the ready for additional NJ COVID-19 response support, should the need arise,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Bradford Everman, 177th Fighter Wing commander.
Beginning on March 16, 2020, when Gov. Phil Murphy announced he was authorizing elements of the New Jersey National Guard for state active duty to assist in the state’s efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus, Airmen of the 177th FW answered the call.
In March, along with members of the 108th Wing, eighteen Jersey Devils began setting up and operating a COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey State Police, and the New Jersey National Guard.
In April, 177th FW unit members performed medical support at the Federal Medical Station, Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J., treating hundreds of COVID-19 patients. Additional unit members deployed to support JTF-57 at the NJ Air National Guard Training Center at Sea Girt, N.J., while four Jersey Devils deployed to the Joint Operations Center, in Lawrenceville, N.J., to help with command and control functions.
Also in April, over thirty Jersey Devils helped set-up and maintain the Federal Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., while six Jersey Devils deployed to support Mortuary Affairs in Newark, N.J. Six unit members deployed to New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park in Edison, N.J. and eighteen to the NJ Veterans Home in Paramus, N.J. to help provide care for the residents and support the Staff at the homes with care of the residents, recreation, inventory, administrative and Public Affairs functions. The Homes, which are run by the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, have more than 540 residents who have served in every war since World War II.
By May, over thirty Jersey Devils were the lead unit for the Vineland Veterans Home, Vineland, N.J., helping with housekeeping, food service, health screening checkpoints, facility engineering, and life enrichment missions. Two 177th unit members were assisting the kitchen staff at Veterans Haven North, Glen Gardner, N.J., preparing 2,400 meals a day for both the Haven’s residents, as well as the residents at the Hunterdon Developmental Center.
On May 12, 2020, the 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing, NJANG, performed flyovers across various locations in the tri-state area as part of #AirForceSalutes, to honor healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel working on the front lines to combat COVID-19. By May 15, 2020, more than 900 members of the New Jersey National Guard, out of nearly 47,000 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, continued to assist the whole-of-America response to COVID-19.
At the end of May, after 68 days of working the security support mission at the Holmdel COVID-19 drive-thru test site, members of the New Jersey Air National Guard turned their mission over to civilians. Forty-five Airmen from both the 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing, NJANG supported the testing of more than 13,000 New Jersey citizens, and also responded to four motor vehicle accidents, 18 medical emergencies, and 15 disabled vehicles.
On June 1, 2020, the majority of Jersey Devils at New Jersey Veterans Homes in Paramus and Edison finished their mission and at the end of June, eight 177th Airmen helped break down medical supplies and staged them for future use at the Edison, N.J. Federal Medical Station.
In July, nineteen Jersey Devils transitioned to support two different civilian “Long Term Care Facilities” in Southern N.J., providing support for COVID-19 patients and the last three Jersey Devils at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park completed their mission, finishing with 100% success rate: zero COVID-19 cases for both residents and NJ DMAVA Staff.
On July 23, 2020, the last two Jersey Devils completed their mission at the JOC in Lawrenceville, N.J.
In the end, over 150 Jersey Devils answered the call to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 response and were the lead units on several missions, including the Vineland Veterans Home, the Atlantic City Federal Medical Station and two civilian long term care facilities in South Jersey. They accomplished the NJ COVID-19 response missions safely and transitioned back to the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, where they continue to get the job done in the face of the global pandemic. These fine Airmen will receive numerous Joint, Air Force and Army Awards and Federal and State recognition for their sacrifice and efforts.