NJ Guard helps state, local officials with COVID-19 response

March 27, 2020

By Master Sgt. Matt Hecht | New Jersey National Guard

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – More than 150 New Jersey National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are helping screen people for COVID-19 at multiple drive-thru testing facilities in the state.

Guard medics, transportation and military police specialists are supporting testing.

“Expanding access to testing is critical in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve in New Jersey,” said Gov. Phil 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, and Airmen with the 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing, were activated and are operating under Joint Task Force 57, 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 Guard members are spread out at multiple sites, providing medical assistance and directing traffic in partnership with FEMA, the New Jersey Department of Health and New Jersey State Police.

“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.

“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 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.”

New Jersey Air National Guard medics with the 108th Wing process specimens at a COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., March 23, 2020. The testing site, established in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey State Police, and the New Jersey National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)