142nd Wing mobilizes to support Portland hospitals

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steph Sawyer,
  • 142nd Wing

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Wing mobilized almost 200 Airmen to support state hospitals during a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations across Oregon.

During the second week of January, two groups totaling roughly 90 Guard members processed out of Portland Air National Guard Base. The third and final group of more than 100 Airmen mobilized Jan. 24.

The primary purpose of calling up the Oregon National Guard amid another COVID-19 surge, this time brought on by the Omicron variant, is to ease the strain on hospital workers so they can focus on patient care. 

“Hopefully, we can support the hospitals, relieve some of the stress that the hospital staff are under, and support our state mission,” said Master Sgt. Jared Hass, a support systems superintendent with the 116th Air Control Squadron.

The Airmen will work in non-clinical support roles for hospitals across Portland. Their tasks will include administration, janitorial services, supply management, patient and supply transport, and COVID-19 symptom screening.

The Oregon National Guard performed a similar mission from late August to December. More than 1,500 Army and Air Guardsmen — including roughly 300 from the 142nd Wing — worked at hospitals across the state, concentrated in the Portland metro area, during a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“We tout ourselves as being the hometown Air Force, and I think that’s certainly something that makes the Guard a little different than active duty,” said Col. Christopher Lantagne, 142nd Wing vice commander. “We are involved in our local community, so for us to give back and help our communities in need, it’s critical and one of the key things we do in the Guard.”

This mission, like the previous mission, came about quickly. Many Guardsmen have to leave their civilian careers and sometimes their families for an extended period.

Lantagne said he was very proud of the Airmen.

“Whether they’re voluntary or non-voluntary in this tasking, they’re going out there and doing a great professional job and putting the best face forward of the Oregon National Guard,” he said.

Oregon Guardsmen are to maintain a presence in hospitals tentatively until April 1.