National Guard Activated To Fight Virus

Staff Sgt. Tiffany Paulus, left, and Senior Airman Christopher Langill, both with the 108th Security Forces Squadron, direct traffic at the Covid-19 Community-Based Testing Site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. (U.S. Air National Guard Photos by Ross Alexander Whitley)

   JOINT BASE MDL – Over the years, Christopher Langill, 22, Hazlet, has attended many concerts at the PNC Center in Holmdel; now he is directing traffic at the center as part of his duties related to COVID-19 response.

  Langill, a senior airman of the 108th Wing, of the New Jersey National Guard, Joint Base – McGuire AFB is one of 200 Guard members who are part of the state National Guard activation working to assist with duties associated with the pandemic.

  Gov. Phil Murphy called for the activation of New Jersey’s National Guard last month in an effort to fight the further spread of the coronavirus. The National Guard is a reserve military force that state governors often call upon during times of crisis and emergency situations.

New Jersey Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Emilio E. Gonzalez, a 108th Medical Group public health technician, administers a temperature screening to a Security Forces Airman at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Andrea A. S. Williamson )

  Murphy said the Guard was activated to assist “our efforts in any way necessary.” His announcement came at a time when he also outlined new restrictions concerning business closures, curfews and the banning of social gatherings.

  “Most likely missions will include logistics, transportation, traffic control, security and using engineers to bring older medical facilities back online,” said Brig. Gen. Jemal Beale, who heads the state’s National Guard.

  Langill enlisted in the National Guard two and a half years ago but this marked his first activation mission which began on March 19. “Our main mission is entry control, directing traffic and making sure everyone reaches the area where testing is taking place.”

  “We’re prepared for this,” Langill said regarding not only the duties that he and his Guard members are performing but with dealing with some of the cold days outside that they experienced early on in their assignment.

  Langill said the flow of people coming in for testing has varied each day. He added that he was happy to put his training into action and be part of a unique experience.

  “It really is an awesome experience to be able to serve during a pandemic. The mission of the guard is to respond in emergency situations and this is unprecedented,” Langill said.

  Langill normally works as a substitute history teacher so he was impacted by the closure of schools. “I’m hoping to be a full-time teacher in Newark after my planned deployment.”

  His father is a retired state police officer and his mother is a nurse. “I’ve received tremendous support from my parents,” Langill said adding that they both understand the importance of what he is doing in assisting with COVID-19 testing. The PNC Center is one of several sites overseen by the New Jersey Department of Health.

National Guard members from Joint Base -MDL assist with COVID-19 response called for by Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo by 1st Lt. Katie Mueller)

  Langill is one of 22 New Jersey Air National Guardsmen of the 108th Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst that were put into action according to New Jersey National Guard spokesman Kryn Westhoven of the NJ Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs which oversees the NJ National Guard.

  Westhoven noted that those who are taking part in the state activation were part of a pool of volunteers and those at the PNC Art Center were staying at a facility in Sea Girt.

  “They are among the 190 citizen soldiers and airmen on State Active Duty,” Westhoven said. Westhoven added that many are from military facilities in Paramus, Teaneck and installations in the northern part of the state.

  Westhoven clarified that, “this is not a mobilization. That would require a federal order. This is a state activation making those who are here volunteering as part-time state employees during this time.”