At the direction of Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, more than 40 Guam National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been assigned to oversee operations of the island’s two COVID-19 quarantine facilities which at this time are the Wyndham Garden Hotel and the Santa Fe Hotel.
On May 18, the GUNG’s Joint Task Force 671 stood up Task Force Shield with a FEMA mission to manage, control and reduce immediate threats to public health and safety. Guam guardsmen worked alongside government of Guam employees to transfer and facilitate the movement of incoming passengers to the designated sites.
“Our Guam National Guard Airmen and Soldiers are able and ready to successfully carry out this new mission,” said Task Force Shield Commander Lt. Col. Veronica Reyes. “Though the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique situation for our Guardsmen to operate in, our training has provided us the skills to support a wide range of tasks to include facilitating the quarantined passengers.”
The newly-created task force is responsible for receiving passengers after they are screened at the airport by Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services personnel; coordinating logistics regarding passenger reception, lodging assignments and accommodations, including quality-of-life needs; and luggage transport to sites.
Working in tandem with Task Force Shield are GUNG Soldiers and Airmen who are part of Task Force Response. The service members assist the Guam Police Department with crowd management and control and help accommodate the process of outside deliveries to quarantined passengers.
“This is truly a Guam National Guard operation,” Reyes said. “We have Task Force Shield providing support for the passengers, Task Force Response providing security alongside Guam law enforcement, and Task Force Support assisting with logistics. We have all these different elements working together to ensure that we carry out the governor’s directives.”
Since the governor’s activation of the Guard in March, service members have carried out missions ranging from traffic and crowd control management; decontamination training for local government and private businesses; healthcare support, response and advisement; a COVID-19 fact-finding assignment; and assessment, renovation and construction of facilities in support of the fight against the pandemic.
Though the missions are unique because of the pandemic, the GUNG stands always ready to respond to any type of disaster whether man made, natural or biological.
“Though this mission is unique, we will do it and we will do it well,” said Task Force Shield Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge Master Sgt. Dexter Diaz. “We’re here to serve the people of Guam and these service members, regardless if they’re Army or Air, are dedicated.