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First deployed Airmen return during COVID-19

Medical service member briefs members returning from overseas.

Tech. Sgt. Mark McDermott, 55th Aerospace Medical Squadron NCO in charge of community health management, briefs members of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron as they return from overseas. The members were screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and, as standard with anybody who has traveled overseas, quarantined for two weeks (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

maintainer marshals aircraft

An Airman marshals an aircraft on the flightline here May 5, 2020. The aircraft was carrying 26 members of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron returning from overseas. (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

Pilot leans out window of aircraft.

Capt. Dustin Hofegartner, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, talks to maintainers after landing on the flightline here May 5, 2020. 26 Members of the 45th RS returned from overseas and upon arrival were screened by the 55th Medical Group for COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

maintainer marshals aircraft

An Airman marshals an aircraft on the flightline here May 5, 2020. The aircraft was carrying 26 members of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron returning from overseas. (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

service member helps another service member put on personal protective equipment

Members of public health assist each other in donning personal protective equipment before screening service members returning from overseas for COVID-19 May 5, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

Service member wipes case.

A member of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron sanitizes cargo as it is taken off an aircraft as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 May 5, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

service member sanitizes cargo.

A member of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron wipes down a piece of cargo during the unit's return from overseas as part of an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 May 5, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

three service members talk.

Members of the 55th Medical Group discuss their briefing before presenting it to a group of 26 the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron returning from overseas May 5, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

two service members read a document.

Two members of the 55th Medical group review a COVID-19 briefing as part of a screening for members of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron returning from overseas May 5. 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by William A. O'Brien)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The first group of 55th Wing Airmen to return from overseas since the COVID-19 pandemic began arrived here May 4, 2020.

The Airmen are with the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron and deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, providing RC-135U Combat Sent operations.

“The Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth is going to continue its mission, even during a pandemic,” said Col. Marks, 55th Wing commander. “This team left before any protective measures were put in place, so while they were gone, they had to adjust and continue to carry out their mission, which they did to perfection.” 

The 23 Airmen met by a four-member team from the 55th Medical group, who screened them for symptoms of COVID-19.

“Whether they fly into a commercial airport or land here, everybody entering the United States is being screened at this time,” said Capt. Christina Ritchie, 55th MDG. “We want to make sure we are informing everybody on the precautionary measures they need to take as part of the procedures to safely reenter the country and that includes a quarantine.” 

As the team got off the aircraft, they unload and sanitized all cargo as a precautionary measure to fight against the potential spread of COVID-19.

None reported or displayed any symptoms of the virus, but as is customary with all people returning from overseas, the team entered into a 14-day quarantine. 

The Combat Sent is composed of a wide variety of commercial off-the-shelf and proprietary hardware and software. Its current configuration allows for both manual and automatic analysis of electronic signals. By combining manual systems with the Automatic Electronic Emitter Locating System, Ravens and intelligence specialists can simultaneously locate, identify, and analyze multiple electronic signals.

“The Combat Sent is just one of many missions Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth Airmen are executing around the world despite the pandemic,” said Marks. “We are incredibly proud of them as we are of our entire team as we continually evolve our mission execution.”