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Fifty-Fifth fightin’ through COVID-19

Airman disinfects cockpit of aircraft.

Airman Patrick Mahon, 55th Maintenance Group, disinfects the cockpit of RC-135 Rivet Joint on the flight line April 28, 2020 here. The 55th MXG built cleaning kits for each aircraft and worked alongside the 55th Operations Group to develop and standardize the process by which each aircraft is cleaned both pre and post-flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)

Airman disinfects throttle inside aircraft.

Airman Patrick Mahon, 55th Maintenance Group, disinfects the throttle of RC-135 Rivet Joint on the flight line April 28, 2020 here. The 55th Maintenance Group built cleaning kits for each aircraft and worked alongside the 55th OG to develop and standardize the process by which each aircraft is cleaned both pre and post-flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

In the midst of a Public Health Emergency, at Health Protection Condition Charlie and with mission-essential personnel only reporting for duty, there is a stillness across the base most likely not seen since its establishment in 1896 as its personnel fight to keep COVID-19 at a distance.

But regardless of the conditions, Team Offutt has not missed a beat showing their resilience and adaptability while continuing to accomplish the mission during the pandemic.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our Airmen as they persevere and accomplish the mission by adapting to new working conditions,” said Col. Gavin Marks, 55th Wing commander. “The adage, ‘The Sun Never Sets on the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth,’ has never been more true.”

The 55th Operations Group, with support of its mission partners, continues aircrew training, deployment preps, advanced integrations training and supporting the global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations without interruption.

The 55th Maintenance Group built cleaning kits for each aircraft and worked alongside the 55th OG to develop and standardize the process by which each aircraft is cleaned both pre-and-post-flight.

In addition, they are continuing to support the daily flying schedule while balancing the care of their Airmen.

"Our Airmen are resilient, dedicated and mission focused," said Lt. Col Dennis Knight, 55th MXG deputy commander. "They understand their jobs are critical to the wing mission, taking pride in the generation and repairs of every aircraft they touch."

The 338th Training Squadron continues to conduct initial training and advance integration training with other missions, making sure to sanitize flight deck and mission crew simulators so that each crew trains on a clean platform.

The 55th Logistics Readiness Squadron has sustained and driven sortie production by getting the correct parts and fuel products to the right place at the right time, handling transport and constantly monitoring fuel infrastructure.

“The Warhorses are unsung heroes," said Lt. Col. Brent Tschikof, 55th LRS commander. “They may never be in the history books, but they have clarity of purpose to ensure that logistics are never a constraint to Offutt operations.”

“Life doesn’t stop for the LRS Warhorses,” he added. “Bottom line is that we have a lot to be hopeful for and that hope will never die, and therefore we will persevere and fiercely attack our mission and fight to maintain our way of life.”

Unlike the mission of other wings that fly and train for future operations that may or may not be executed, the 55th Wing continues to fly and train operators who are going to replace crews that are deployed and executing their operations mission right now. 

“With each local sortie generated we are ensuring our national leaders and theater commanders have the intelligence required to ensure that troops in harm’s way are provided with threat warnings, ensuring the ability to find and fix that latest weapons and tactics, techniques and procedures our adversaries are using,” said Lt. Col. Richard Schermer, 55th OG deputy commander.

However, it is important to note that all of this is being accomplished with the health and safety of all personnel at the forefront. All mission-essential personnel are wearing protective faces masks when in close proximity of each other, each aircraft is sanitized before and after landing, the number of sorties being flown have been curtained and staggered shifts have been put into place to help maintain social distancing whenever possible

“All of our units have done an amazing job adapting to the unique challenges posed by COVID-19,” Schermer said. “We hope the Airmen supporting on-going operations have a sense of pride in what they are accomplishing.”

The mission of the 55th Wing is to maintain a ready and lethal force that can continually answers the nation's call -- even during COVID-19.

“The significance of what’s being asked of our Airmen may not be readily apparent,” Marks said. “Nothing has changed when it comes to executing the mission of the 55th Wing. We will continue to do so ferociously, regardless of obstacles, and it’s the courage and the dedication of our Airmen that enables this, and enables the wing’s legacy of quiet professionalism to continue.”