N.J. National Guard partners with state and local authorities for historic COVID-19 response
By Master Sgt. Matt Hecht, New Jersey National Guard
/ Published March 26, 2020
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --
More than one hundred-fifty Soldiers and Airmen with the New Jersey National Guard were called to state active duty orders this month to assist with the COVID-19 outbreak response. Medics, transportation, and military police specialists volunteered to the request for support of multiple COVID-19 drive-thru testing facilities.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has taken an aggressive stance on COVID-19, and has made the safety of New Jersey citizens his highest priority.
“Expanding access to testing is critical in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve in New Jersey,” said Murphy. “I am grateful to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their swift response in fulfilling our request for specimen collection kits and personal protective equipment so that we can successfully offer expansive drive-thru testing in New Jersey.”
Soldiers from the 508th Military Police Company, 143rd Transportation Company, 250th Brigade Support Battalion, as well as Airmen with the 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing were activated and are operating under Joint Task Force 57, which is being run by 57th Troop Command.
“The testing of residents is a mission the New Jersey National Guard is ready to assist with in the battle against COVID-19,” said Brig. Gen. Jemal J. Beale, the Adjutant General and Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Our Citizen Soldiers and Airmen stand ready to serve where ever the Governor needs us.
The Soldiers and Airmen are spread out through multiple sites, providing traffic control as well as direct medical assistance to incoming patients. The sites are partnerships with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey State Police, and the New Jersey National Guard.
“You know, it feels good, it’s what we sign up for,” said 1st Lt. David Robone, commander of the 508th Military Police Company. “I’ve got a great group of men and women who put on this uniform and have answered the call, and are always willing and able to. To be able to go out and help the community at a time like this is something that we’re all proud of."
The sentiment was shared with some of Robone’s young Soldiers.
“We want to help to end this before it gets worse,” said Spc. Thomas Brennan, a military policeman. “It feels great to help out the state, and hopefully we can be a part of making sure more people get tested and treated.”
“Let’s all remember that we are America,” said Gov. Murphy. “We’re the country that never leaves the fallen soldier injured or killed on the battlefield. We always go back, including putting lives at risk to get that fallen soldier. That is America. That is what we stand for. That is our value system and that is New Jersey. We will fight to save every single life and there is no cost too high associated with that.”