COVID-19 deployers

This photo shows a group of airmen supporting a Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccination support effort in Detroit, Michigan.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — When airmen from Hill Air Force Base deploy, they typically head overseas into a hostile region of the world, ready to do battle against foreign aggressors if necessary.

But as the nation continues to grapple with an unprecedented pandemic, a group from Hill now has their sights set on stopping COVID-19.

According to a news release from the 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs office at Hill, a group of airmen on base have deployed to Detroit, in support of a Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccination support effort.

The airmen, who belong to Hill’s 75th Medical Group, are part of a team of about 120 Air Force members working at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, to assist with the community vaccination center there. The Hill news release says the team will distribute about 6,000 vaccinations a day over the next several weeks.

“Some states, unfortunately, are having more difficulties than others in getting their people vaccinated,” said Col. Jason Musser, deputy commander of the Air Force’s 88th Medical Group. “The help that our airmen provide will increase the vaccination administration, and this will ultimately help in the battle against COVID-19.”

The DOD has more than 2,700 military personnel from the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy supporting vaccination efforts in places like California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the Hill release.

Tech. Sgt. Gregory Bowers, 75th MDG’s medical readiness flight chief, said the deployment is distinct from any other mission he’s been involved with in a nearly decade-long career.

“These are new and untested experiences,” he said. “I have deployed many medics in my short eight-year career, but they always seemed to alternate between Al Udeid or Al Dahfra (in the Middle East). It is exciting to be a part of something new and groundbreaking ... to combat a global pandemic.”

Hill’s 75th Medical Group began administering vaccines to base emergency services personnel, security forces members, and medical and health care professionals in early January.

With a population of more than 25,000, Hill has been at the forefront of the DOD’s effort to learn about and combat the ongoing pandemic. In October 2020, the defense department announced Hill was one of four Air Force installations to take part in a phased COVID-19 testing program, which randomly checked military and civilian personnel to identify and contain pockets of the virus.

Airmen from Hill’s 649th Munitions Squadron also wore and tested smartwatches made by American technology company Garmin, which were designed to alert the airmen when they are showing the initial, often imperceptible signs of viral infections like COVID-19.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!