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106th Rescue Wing and 109th Airlift Wing Work Together for Vaccine Delivery

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  • By Staff Sgt. Daniel Farrell

The 109th Airlift Wing and the 106th Rescue Wing’s 102nd Rescue Squadron teamed up to make sure that 106th Rescue Wing members got their COVID-19 vaccination shots during the Sept. 11-12, 2021 drill weekend.

The wing’s 106th Medical Group was gearing up to deliver vaccinations in order to comply with a Department of Defense-wide vaccination mandate, when Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Katt, the medical group superintendent, learned his vaccine shipment would not arrive in time.

Katt reached out to his counterparts in the other four New York Air National Guard wings to see if they could loan him 200 to 300 shots.
Within an hour responses came in, Katt said. Command Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca L. Graham, the 109th Airlift Wing’s Medical Group superintendent, had agreed to loan the 300 doses of the vaccine.

Now, Katt said, he needed a way to get the vaccines from Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York, to F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton.

Katt made his way over to the 106th Operations Group to speak with Col. Jeff Cannet, the 106th Operations Group commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian Mosher, the 106th Operations Group superintendent, to see if anyone was flying.

It turned out that the 102nd Rescue Squadron would be completing an HC-130J Combat King II air refueling exercise over Syracuse, which was near where the vaccine was located.

“In this case we had a full training event that was right where we needed to go, which was amazing it lined up that way,” said Cannet. “If Chief Katt would have come over 12-hours later, I don’t know if we would have pulled that off.”

Once the flight was secured, Tech Sgt. John Andrejack, the 106th Medical Group bioenvironmental engineer, was tapped to fly as Mission Essential Personnel with the 102nd Rescue Squadron. The flight would stop at Stratton and Andrejack would secure the vaccines from the 109th and deliver them safely back to the 106th.

The vaccines, Katt explained, have to be packaged properly in dry ice and documented with a cold storage chain of custody form.

“There was definitely more pressure” Andrejack said. “There was no room for error because it was a high priority item.”

But, Katt said he had confidence with Andrejack taking on the real-world mission.

“Andrejack has been the supply person for the COVID mission,” said Katt. “He knows how to handle the vaccine.”

When the 102nd completed their air refueling training, they landed at the 109th where Andrejack secured the vaccine before returning to the 106th.

Katt, said this was a great example of Air Guardsmen working together. “We were able to offer our Airmen the vaccine because they made it happen for us,” Katt said. “It’s all about relationships and taking care of each other.”

For members of the 106th, the vaccine is available Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment, which can be scheduled through the Division of Military and Naval Affairs website;
The vaccine is also available during regularly scheduled drills, a schedule will be posted.