By Sgt. Jordan Hack
Utah National Guard
CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah - After serving their state and communities for over a year, approximately 140 Airmen and Soldiers serving as part of the Utah National Guard COVID-19 Response Task Force demobilized June 15-16, 2021 at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, as well as at the 640th Regiment, Regional Training Institute at Camp Williams, Utah.
“These Soldiers have served us well," said Master Sgt. Derek McWain, noncommissioned officer in charge of the demobilization. “We were activated because there was a need. This was military support to civilian operations.”
Over the duration of the mission, 630 service members were instrumental in testing more than 320,000 people, administering more than 2.7 million vaccinations and working more than 841,000 total hours.
Spc. Leticia Alonso beamed as she described her experience working with the task force.
“I absolutely loved everything that I was doing,” she said. “Helping people fill out paperwork, especially in my first language, which is Spanish, and it just felt so good!”
Alonso wasn’t the only one who enjoyed their time. Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Sharette, a medic assigned to the medical team, said he was ready and willing to serve whenever, wherever needed with a smile on his face and an uplifting attitude. He had nothing but good things to say about the various health departments.
“I had really great experiences at each facility,” said Sharette. “I got to work with the civilian population, and the health department has been great to work with. It’s been a great experience all-in-all.”
When Soldiers demobilize, there is a process of reintegration. During this process, they visit several entities set up to cover many different facets. From Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) programs, to discussing military retirement points and personal finance, each Soldier took as much time as they needed to feel comfortable getting back to normal life.
“They did a phenomenal job," said McWain. "So now they’re going to move on, and go back to their civilian employers. Some have found other jobs, some of them are actually getting jobs with the Utah Department of Health.”
All demobilizing Soldiers received either an Army Achievement Medal (AAM), or an Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM), depending on their service longevity and contribution.
Sharette wrapped up his thoughts by saying, “We all came together; health departments, fire departments, police departments, Air Guard, Army [Guard], it’s been very enjoyable showing what the United States can come up with and overcome within a year.”
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