BARRIGADA, Guam—The Guam National Guard’s Joint Task Force 671 Task Force Response provided support to the Guam Department of Education last May 29 to distribute food to thousands of island residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Task Force Response soldiers and airmen worked alongside government of Guam law enforcement to regulate traffic and manage crowds. Thousands of cars lined roadways in the villages of Dededo and Barrigada to take advantage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, which Guam DOE oversees.
“We’re prepared to support valid mission requests from the government of Guam,” said Joint Task Force 671 Dual Status Commander Brig. Gen. Johnny Lizama. “Our service members have been out there since Day 1, fulfilling these missions with complete professionalism and we could not be more proud to serve our island and our fellow Guamanians. The soldiers and airmen have worked tirelessly around the clock to ensure the safety and security of our homeland.”
Assisting with the food distribution is the newest mission for Task Force Response.
Since the island’s public health emergency was declared in March, service members provided traffic and crowd control at government of Guam COVID-19 quarantine and isolation sites; mass testing sites in support of the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services in the villages of Dededo, Mangilao and Agat; and in support of Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s COVID-19 educational campaign along the island’s main thoroughfares.
Additionally, service members assisted with sanitizing government agencies in preparation for reopening.
Exercising her powers as the commander in chief, Leon Guerrero activated the Guam National Guard and nearly 100 soldiers and airmen were called to duty under Task Force Response.
“Since we’ve been activated, we have been providing security support to the Guam Police Department at the various isolation and quarantine sites throughout the island,” said Maj. Alvin Alvarez, commander, Task Force Response. “We were also tasked to support the Department of Public Health and Social Services initiative to educate the public about COVID-19 and the governor’s executive order.”
While the Guardsmen are more familiar with responding to crises such as typhoons and earthquakes, the pandemic poses a unique situation, but the Guard remains ready and able to respond.
“Our units and our entire Guard have done a good job building airmen leaders and soldier leaders,” said Alvarez. “We are always ready to respond to a crisis, whether manmade, natural or even a public health issue, this is what we’re trained to do. Even though COVID-19 is unique, our soldiers and airmen are adjusting well and executing their missions the best they can.”
As the fight against the pandemic continues and mission requests are made, task force response and its soldiers and airmen are prepared to fulfill mission requirements.
“We’re in this together,” said Sgt. 1st Class Philip Biacan, Task Force Response non-commissioned officer. “We believe in our leadership and what they’re asking us to do—that this is all to benefit our community.” (PR)