Airmen, Mission, Community—top priorities for 482nd Fighter Wing Commander

  • Published
  • By Maj. Roxy Hambleton
  • 482nd Force Support Squadron

When asked the top priorities for the base during the COVID-19 crisis, the Homestead Air Reserve Base commanders answer is: Airmen, mission, and community”

Brig. Gen. David A. Piffarerio, the 482nd Fighter Wing Commander, answered questions on the status of the base, its mission, and its workforce during COVID-19.


Q: What measures are being taken to protect military and civilian members of the wing and tenant units?

A: From the beginning, we stood up the base Emergency Operations Center and have been monitoring how best to protect our most important assets—our Airmen. We initiated telework rotations for those who can perform that duty from home. For those mission essential members, we are making every effort to provide a safe and clean work environment. We canceled all travel, including making the hard decision to reschedule our Unit Training Assembly (UTA) weekend in April. We are following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines with increased sanitation stations, ensuring those who are not well remain at home, increasing disinfection of common areas, and monitoring those who have traveled overseas. We are implementing alternate work schedules to minimize contact and our footprint. Our bioenvironmental office is working around the clock to monitor the situation and be proactive to ensure the safety of every Airman.

Q: How is Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie affecting operations?

A: Taking care of Airmen and their families is my top priority—bar none. I implemented HPCON Charlie, where only official business is allowed to be conducted on base. We are limiting on-base personnel, increasing sanitation, implementing telework, and many other measures to ensure our Airmen remain free of the virus, but equally important that they do not bring anything back to their families and their communities.


Q: Is the wing mission of providing combat-ready forces to combatant commanders affected by COVID-19?

A: We are continuing to prepare for upcoming deployments and practicing our readiness skills. Even if this outbreak affected our UTAs for many months, our Airmen are combat ready and still able to fulfill their mission. 482nd FW maintainers, pilots, medics, security forces, and supporting agencies—all of them remain committed to the mission to defend our nation. Our helping agencies continue to provide a high level of assistance to all base and mission partners. Together, our ability to protect the United States against any threat remains intact.

Q: The wing is host to many tenant units, are the tenants’ missions affected by COVID-19?

A: I have been in touch with our tenants and they are, each and every one, taking measures to not only protect their military and civilian workforce, but to ensure their mission continues. The mission of the Florida Air National Guard on our base is to provide 24/7 coverage for their aerospace control alert mission. Lt. Col. David Martinez, Director of Operations for the Florida ANG unit, tells me that they have “implemented procedures to ensure Airmen are protected from the virus in order to continue that 24/7 mission with no interruption.” Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Fletcher, Commander, Special Operations Command South, assures me that their top priority is protecting their people “while maintaining mission readiness and supporting the whole of government effort. [SOCSOUTH] remains committed to execute special operations missions throughout Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.” It is evident that every unit on this base is maintaining readiness and continues to perform its mission despite the current situation and extraordinary circumstances.

Q: Will the base close down?

A: No, we have gone down to mission essential personnel, but we have no plans to close this installation. During this time, we are monitoring personnel at the base to protect the health of those on the installation. If that entails minimal manning, we will do that while still maintaining, along with our mission partners, the commitment to national defense.


Q: What collaboration has the base had with the community during COVID-19?

A: We are fortunate to have a strong alliance with the Homestead and Miami-Dade community and are working hand-in-hand to ensure information is flowing and that they know of our resources and commitment to the community. For example, Homestead Hospital has provided support and information to coordinate with the Veterans Affairs office and TRICARE in case our Airmen feel any symptoms. We are working with the local emergency operations center through our emergency management officer to share information and keep our community safe. Ive also been in communication with some of our local elected officials such as Mayor Gimenez (Miami-Dade County) and Mayor Losner (city of Homestead) to keep them appraised of what we are doing. We are coordinating with them to stay in lockstep with county and city measures.

Q: How are Homestead Airmen contributing to their communities?

A: I have heard from many of our Traditional Reservists, our Citizen Airmen, that the experience they received during countless exercises, trainings, and deployments has been put to use during this national crisis. Our Airmen who have civilian employment as first responders, law-enforcement, physicians and nurses—they are all on the front line of this epidemic and are applying their skillsets, honed during their time in service, to benefit their communities. It’s not just the first responders and medical workers doing a great job during this crisis. Our Airmen have various civilian jobs and are supporting their communities in different ways. For example, some are school teachers providing virtual classes to students so they don’t fall behind in learning while others own small businesses and are ensuring their employees are taken care of. There are many other examples of our amazing Airmen supporting their communities. We all remain committed to do everything in our power to “flatten the curve” of this virus and put that at the forefront of all our efforts.

General Piffarerio commands a mission-ready combat fighter wing of more than 2,300 military and DoD civilian personnel and a host base installation for both war and peacetime taskings in support of national objectives.