142nd Wing Mobilizes to Support Portland Hospitals

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steph Sawyer
  • 142nd Wing / Public Affairs

The Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Wing has been tasked to mobilize approximately 210 Airmen in support of Joint Task Force (JTF) Recovery, an effort by the Oregon National Guard (ONG) to provide aid to state hospitals during a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations across Oregon.

Two groups totaling roughly 90 Guard members processed out of Portland Air National Guard Base in the second week of January to support this mission. The third and final group of more than 120 Airmen will be mobilizing on January 24.

The primary purpose of calling up the Oregon National Guard in the midst of another COVID-19 surge, this time brought on by the Omicron variant, is to ease the strain on hospital workers so better and more expedient care can be provided to patients.

Master Sgt. Jared Hass, a support systems superintendent with the 116th Air Control Squadron, is one of the 210 Airmen from the Portland Air National Guard Base to mobilize for this mission. He emphasized the importance of the National Guard’s role in helping hospitals bounce back.

“Hopefully we can support the hospitals, relieve some of the stress that the hospital staff are under, and support our state mission,” said Hass. 

These Airmen will work in non-clinical support roles at hospitals across the Portland metro area as well as many hospitals throughout Oregon. Their tasks will include administration, janitorial services, supply management, patient and supply transport, and COVID-19 symptom screening.

 This mobilization closely follows a similar tasking that had been fulfilled by the ONG from late August to December 2021. During this time, the ONG sent over 1,500 Army and Air Guardsmen, including roughly 300 from the 142nd Wing, to hospitals across the state, with a concentration in the Portland metro area. This effort was known as JTF Reassurance and, similar to JTF Recovery, the aim was to provide support to hospitals during a surge in pandemic-related hospitalizations.

The Guard, unlike other components of the U.S. Military, is in a unique position to impact their local communities and that aspect of service has been heightened in the wake of recent events, namely, the COVID-19 pandemic.

142nd Wing Vice Commander, Col. Christopher Lantagne highlighted the Guard’s important role in this mission.

“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 Lantagne. “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 and demanded substantial numbers from the 142nd Wing. This tasking is a big ask for many Guardsmen who have to leave their civilian careers and sometimes their families for an extended period of time.

Acknowledging the hardships, Lantagne expressed his gratitude for the dedicated Air Guardsmen of the 142nd Wing.

“[I’m] very proud of all of [our 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,” said Lantagne.

Oregon Guardsmen will maintain a presence in hospitals tentatively until the first of April, depending on the needs of the hospitals.