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177th FW sews face masks for mission-essential personnel

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael R. Ottaviano, 177th Fighter Wing, volunteers to prepare fabric for face masks April 8, 2020, in the Aircrew Flight Equipment shop at the New Jersey Air National Guard Base. The 177th AFE shop is sewing and distributing face masks for mission-essential personnel.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael R. Ottaviano, 177th Fighter Wing, volunteers to prepare fabric for face masks April 8, 2020, in the Aircrew Flight Equipment shop at the New Jersey Air National Guard Base. The 177th AFE shop is sewing and distributing face masks for mission-essential personnel.

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. – The 177th Fighter Wing Aircrew Flight Equipment shop began sewing and distributing face masks for mission-essential personnel April 8.

The 177th FW is committed to maintaining national defense while taking every precaution to ensure the health and well-being of Airmen, families and community in response to COVID-19.

“The health and safety of our fellow Americans and National Guard members; ensuring we are mission ready; and supporting our local, state and federal partners are my highest priorities as the Guard continues to support the whole-of-America COVID-19 fight,” Said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Airmen at 177th FW, especially 177th Maintenance Group Airmen, are essential in maintaining mission-ready aircraft that must be prepared for national defense and potential combat deployments at all times. Airmen cannot always work 6 feet away from each other and sometimes have to work in teams to complete tasks.

“These face masks are being made for all Wing members,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason L. Gioconda, Aircrew Flight Equipment superintendent. “They are mainly made for the full-time, mission-essential personnel who may work closely together and can’t always abide by social distancing guidelines.”

The latest guidance from the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus in public settings or where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

“Master Sgt. Kyle P. Brier, Aircrew Flight Equipment craftsman, came up with the idea for the face mask since the AFE shop works with oxygen masks that the pilots fly with,” said Gioconda. “They are made from a tightly woven cotton on the outside with a lint-free layer of woven poly-material on the inside.”

Airmen from all over the base are stepping up to help make these face masks to equip mission-essential employees so they can do their jobs safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the making and distribution of these face masks will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus if someone may have the virus, but isn’t showing any signs or symptoms,” said Gioconda. “There are many mission-essential jobs that require our Airmen to work side by side to accomplish the mission.”

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