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First deployed Airmen return during COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. William A. O’Brien
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

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.”