Lead, Innovate, Adapt, Excel During COVID-19 Challenges

  • Published
  • By 349th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
  • 349 AMW

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges around the world and across our Air Force. One of the most pressing challenges for the 349th Air Mobility Wing was how to accomplish regularly scheduled annual tours. During normal circumstances, training would be accomplished at home station, but bringing hundreds of Reserve Citizen Airmen to Travis Air Force Base, California, posed a potential threat to active duty Airmen and the local community. Thus, training opportunities were temporarily limited to virtual participation for the vast majority of the wing.

To avoid gaps in training and participation points, the 349th Civil Engineer Squadron found a way to tackle this problem head-on by securing a hands-on training experience at the Naval Support Activity Monterey (NSA Monterey), a military university more than 140 miles away. Since classes moved to an online format, the campus was nearly empty and there were several infrastructure projects put on hold. The 349th CES was qualified to execute numerous incomplete projects including fire abatement, updating base mapping, replacing a retaining wall, constructing new sidewalks and concrete pads, and making improvements to the pump house. Throughout the event, safety remained the number one priority. “All this hard work could be overshadowed with a single incident. I made sure to communicate this to the crew and we had zero mishaps,” said 2nd Lt. Guy Hopes, OIC NSA Monterey job sites.

Master Sgt. David Ghiglieri, NCOIC Heavy Equipment, said “Planning and execution were complicated by the uncertainty of world events, but with extra precautions and many hours of planning, we were able to complete training from July 13-27, 2020 while helping out the Naval Support Activity Monterey.”

Col. Kenneth McGinnis, then 349th CES Commander, explained this arrangement was made possible through Ghiglieri’s personal connection and his previous experience executing an annual tour at the university two years prior. By fostering a good working relationship between the 349th CES and the NSA Monterey, Ghiglieri created a mutually beneficial training event.

The 2020 tour was successful thanks to several factors, including the search for training opportunities throughout the year, identification of opportunities outside the unit, and utilization of the previous year’s “lessons learned” report to leverage a professional network. The 349th CES completed all scheduled projects by the end of the two-week event, allowing the squadron to fulfill its annual tour obligation and support the Air Force mission despite COVID-19 challenges.

(Note: Submitted to CE Weekly, publication date December 8, 2020)