Lt. Col. Dave Finley
Public Affairs Officer
Socorro Composite Squadron
New Mexico Wing
The New Mexico Wing’s service to the state and nation during the COVID-19 pandemic was recognized with a special presentation by a U.S. Air Force official.
Beginning in April 2020, the wing flew time-critical coronavirus test samples from far-flung cities across New Mexico to laboratories in Albuquerque for processing. The flights helped get the test results delivered quickly to aid in treatment and in tracking close contacts of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
When the first vaccines became available, wing aircrews quickly turned to speeding the medicine from Albuquerque to numerous towns and cities.
Throughout the pandemic, nearly 140 members of the New Mexico Wing contributed at least 13,627 volunteer labor hours, including 581 flight hours and 5,354 miles driven in ground vehicles. The final flights in the COVID-19 relief missions came in March.
The COVID-19 missions were funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the New Mexico Wing assisted the New Mexico National Guard, in support of the New Mexico Department of Health.
The wing’s service was recognized June 18 with a plaque commissioned by U.S. Army Col. Dale Snider, Region VI defense coordinating officer for Army North. The plaque, shaped like a CAP Cessna plane, includes a list of many of the wing’s accomplishments during 2020.
Snider oversees coordination of federal forces when those forces are tasked to support state efforts, as requested by state and tribal governors. Region VI consists of five states: New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
“We don’t have a standard way to laud the unique and consistent services the New Mexico CAP provided during this historic time. Col. Snider was eager to ensure the volunteers in New Mexico knew their efforts were both noticed and applauded,” said Col. Michele Boyko, a representative of Air Forces Northern who was asked to present the plaque on Snider’s behalf to Col. Annette Peters, New Mexico Wing commander.
“We greatly appreciate this recognition,” Peters said. “Throughout a major national emergency, our members gave freely of their time and efforts to provide extremely valuable services for our fellow New Mexicans. Despite the pandemic's impact on their own personal and professional lives, they dedicated themselves to helping others.
“They have added a highly honorable chapter to Civil Air Patrol's nearly 80-year legacy of service to our nation,” she added.
Acting as a Total Force partner and the Air Force auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol is aligned with 1st Air Force to rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically when tasked in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance.