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‘You can anticipate mitigation across the wing’

Selfridge leaders address COVID-19

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published June 19, 2020

 During the spring, members of the 127th Wing at Selfridge served across Michigan communities, ensuring appropriate pandemic response. That included working with food banks and testing Michiganders for COVID-19.

During the spring, members of the 127th Wing at Selfridge served across Michigan communities, ensuring appropriate pandemic response. That included working with food banks and testing Michiganders for COVID-19.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

 Brig. Gen. Rolf Mammen, Selfridge commander, said the past couple of months have been tough, not only for Michiganders, but for all Americans.

Brig. Gen. Rolf Mammen, Selfridge commander, said the past couple of months have been tough, not only for Michiganders, but for all Americans.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — As cases of COVID-19 continue to decrease in Michigan, leaders at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township are ensuring folks that mission readiness is being maintained.

Brig. Gen. Rolf Mammen, commander of the 127th Wing, delivered a June drill message to wing members.

He indicated that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and all of its associated limitations, the wing continues to maintain readiness.

“Flying has continued, and I’m amazed at how well we’ve accomplished our readiness mission,” Mammen said. “Our tankers have been flying every day since the pandemic started.”

As of June 12, 127th Wing Public Affairs Chief Phil Ulmer said, less than a dozen wing members had tested positive for COVID-19, with one member recently testing positive.

In Macomb County, 6,895 positive tests of the virus had been reported as of June 15.

During the spring, 127th Wing members served across Michigan communities, ensuring appropriate pandemic response. That included working with food banks, preparing over 1,500 tons of food, which can feed between 2,000 and 5,000 families a day. Across Michigan, airmen and soldiers have helped test over 45,000 Michiganders for COVID-19 and delivered over 20,000 test kits.

In May, pilots and crew members took part in the flyover event “Michigan Strong Aerial Flyovers Across Michigan.”

For two days, a series of flyovers happened across the state, demonstrating the wing’s continued readiness during the national COVID-19 response while saluting the Michigan heroes at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19.

Mammen said the media outreach from the flyovers was incredible. Typically, the wing’s social media pages may get a couple thousand hits. In the two days of the flyovers, there were over 2.5 million hits.

As of the beginning of June, the base, which employs about 5,000 people, was under health protection condition Charlie, due to COVID-19.

“That means that certain protocols are in place to ensure health and safety during the pandemic, even as it’s winding down,” Mammen said.

Measures at the base include wearing masks, social distancing, commons areas being closed, and temperature checks.

Face coverings are required when people cannot maintain six feet of physical distance in public areas or work centers.

The base’s fitness center remains closed, with Mammen guessing the earliest it would open is late summer. The Bryant Child Development Center had a soft opening June 1 with limited children and staff.

Mammen concluded his remarks saying that the past couple of months have been tough not only for Michiganders, but for all of the U.S.

“There are people who can help with financial assistance, spiritual assistance and psychological help,” he said.

In May, the wing held a virtual town hall led by Mammen and Chief Master Sgt. Richard Gordon. It served as a way to inform the Selfridge community of how command staff is handling COVID-19 response.

“Through at least the rest of the calendar year, you can anticipate mitigation across the wing,” Mammen said.

In response to a question about what plans the wing has to help members from a social, economic and mental health standpoint, Gordon said that to the command team, nothing is more important than the well-being of wing members.

“We understand that these times have been hard on many of you,” Gordon said. “We have robusted up the benefits we have at your disposal through our family support group. We’re all part of a bigger family and we’re here for you.”

During the pandemic, Mammen said, he’s encouraged members to develop professionally.

“Take part of your day and do something for your professional development,” he said. “That never stops. Take time to every day develop yourself, whether that’s taking a class, working on a master’s degree or reading a book on leadership.”

For the latest information on how the base is operating amidst the pandemic, visit 127wg.ang.af.mil/Home/Coronavirus.