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Joint Base MDL provides speedy support for COVID-19 fight

Airmen assigned to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., return home after a two week deployment supporting the fight against COVID-19, April 3, 2020. The Airmen were tasked with providing extra help in deployed locations following increased mission requirements due to the pandemic. The aircrew also picked up more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy and flew them down to Memphis, Tennessee where they will be distributed to various sites to be tested for Coronavirus. (U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ariel Owings)

Airmen assigned to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., return home after a two week deployment supporting the fight against COVID-19, April 3, 2020. The Airmen were tasked with providing extra help in deployed locations following increased mission requirements due to the pandemic. The aircrew also picked up more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy and flew them down to Memphis, Tennessee where they will be distributed to various sites to be tested for Coronavirus. (U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ariel Owings)

Eighteen pallets filled with more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy are flown to to Memphis, Tennessee for distribution to various locations to be tested for the Coronavirus April 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo)

Eighteen pallets filled with more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy are flown to to Memphis, Tennessee for distribution to various locations to be tested for the Coronavirus April 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo)

Eighteen pallets filled with more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy are flown to Memphis, Tennessee for distribution to various locations to be used for testing of the Coronavirus April 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo)

Eighteen pallets filled with more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy are flown to Memphis, Tennessee for distribution to various locations to be used for testing of the Coronavirus April 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo)

Eighteen pallets filled with more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy are flown to Memphis, Tennessee for distribution to various locations to be used for testing of the Coronavirus April 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo)

Eighteen pallets filled with more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy are flown to Memphis, Tennessee for distribution to various locations to be used for testing of the Coronavirus April 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --

Two aircrews assigned to Joint Base MDL deployed to Al Udeid Air Base for two weeks in support of the increased flow of mission activity due to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic March 20 to April 3.

The aircrews were among many others from installations around the U.S. tasked with providing extra hands to help with the overflow of work in deployed locations.

“It’s a rare thing for aircrew from back home to get brought out to our deployed locations,” said Capt. Tucker Hawley, 6th Airlift Squadron aircraft commander. “With all the turmoil that’s going on out there the operation flow is getting higher so they need some extra aircrews. We needed to complete the work in two weeks and with all the extra hands we finished before the two weeks were up.”

When leaving Al Udeid AB on April 1, Hawley’s crew received a last minute tasking rerouting them to Europe for COVID-19 support. They loaded the aircraft with 18 pallets filled with more than 970,000 swab kits from Aviano, Italy and brought them to Memphis, Tennessee. When unloaded in Memphis, the kits are distributed to various locations to be tested for the Coronavirus.

“It means a lot to me, I know for [myself and] my entire crew, it’s something we sign up for,” said Hawley. “We know that in the C-17 [Globemaster III] world we are not just moving random cargo, it’s usually for humanitarian operations, medical or something else that’s going on in the world. We saw how this global pandemic is not only effecting America but how it’s effecting everywhere. Being in Germany; everything was closed down. Being in Italy; everything was closed down. Being in Qatar; everything was closed down. It’s pretty non-standard operations everywhere not just America. The fact that we got to play a part in it back in America was a pretty proud moment for us.”