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Reserve Citizen Airmen return home after battling COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Iram Carmona
  • 433rd Airlift Wing

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 433rd Airlift Wing’s Medical Group, arrived here from New York City on a C-17 Globemaster III May 28 following a 54-day deployment.

The Alamo Wing activated 10 reservists, who deployed to the Queens Hospital Center in the Jamaica Hills area of the city, to help assist medical staff at the hospital with the overwhelming number of coronavirus or COVID-19 infected patients.

“Overall, we each cared for approximately 50 patients at the hospital,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Suire, 433rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron, who was the officer in charge of the deployed members.

According to Suire, their duties were to help treat and alleviate the overwhelming amount of COVID-19 infected patients in New York.

“This virus is real; it’s serious, and people need to heed the warnings that are being put out by the CDC and other health organizations,” said Master Sgt. Julie Fuleky, 433rd Medical Squadron aerospace medical technician.

According to Fuleky, some of the duties the deployed Airmen were tasked with, were aiding nurses with preventing bedsores for bedridden patients; measuring vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiration; and assisting bedridden patients with bathroom needs.

As hard and challenging as this deployment may have been for the Alamo Wing Airmen, they also got to see the gratitude the people of New York had for them. According to Capt. Sarah Arellano, 433rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron clinical nurse, said they were always greeted and applauded by the people and medical staff there.

First responders and the police were constantly saluting the team. Additionally, firefighters and police would also pass, blaring their sirens while waving at the military personnel helping around the hospitals.

“Being there made me feel what my purpose was and that I was being recognized,” said Arellano, about working with the staff and seeing the people there. “There’s no better feeling than having someone able to see your purpose, your skills, and your heart.”

According to the International Council of Nurses, more than 600 nurses worldwide have died from COVID-19, with more than 230,000 health care workers contracting the disease.

“I want to personally thank our brave and selfless Reserve Citizen Airmen that volunteered to assist with combating this terrible virus in New York City and arrived back home safely,” said Col. Michael Brice, 433rd Medical Group commander. “I'm sure their families are relieved to have them back home and are extremely proud of the professional care they provided.”