NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas -- After nine months of having to task the COVID-19 quarantine mission here to active-duty units on post, the Hood Mobilization Brigade was able to pass the mission over from elements of the 36th Engineer Brigade to the 227th Inland Cargo Transportation Company, a reserve unit based out of Sacramento, California.
Reserve units deploying in support of pandemic efforts is not a common occurrence, but for the 227th ICTC, history is being made.
After the Rugged Brigade troops completed a four-month rotation, the 227th ICTC took over the quarantine mission in December, joined by Soldiers from 974th Quartermaster Company from Amarillo, Texas, and the 7247th Medical Support Unit from Bismarck, North Dakota. The mission, which is responsible for the deploying and redeploying of units, is now completely ran by a Reserve force.
The day-to-day tasks for these Reserve units include the separating and housing of incoming and outgoing units, the isolation of COVID-positive or symptomatic Soldiers, and ensuring that during the two-week quarantine process, these Soldiers have access to sanitized billeting, food, fitness areas, communications and other basic amenities.
“I think it’s a very well thought-out and well-organized process,” Sgt. Tyler Morgan, from Granite Bay, California, said. “There’s a lot of moving parts going on behind the scenes that a lot of these units coming in don’t necessarily see. But I think that the installation here at North Fort Hood has a really good thing going.”
The Reserve Soldiers have a unique set of skills that are not normally found among active-duty units, Maj. Thomas Piernicky, the HMB task force quarantine operations officer-in-charge, said.
“They are training in a military occupational specialty, but they are also trained on the civilian side. They have a complete different skill set, which helps augment the missions we carry out,” Piernicky said. “That’s one of the reasons they brought up the Reserve force to help carry on this mission, because of that diverse skill set and the flexibility that the Army Reserve brings to the fight.”
A prime example of that is one of 227th’s largest missions: the delivery of meals. Ran by Sgt. 1st Class Alford McCoy, originally from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and food service liaison for the task force, the 227th needed to find a way to streamline the meal delivery process.
Once the food is cooked, it is inventoried at a central location, then delivered to numerous tents and barracks throughout North Fort Hood. Units that are quarantined eat in their own designated chow tents, while those Soldiers separated due to symptoms or positive COVID-19 tests are delivered take-out meals. One of McCoy’s first steps was to ask his fellow reservists for ideas on how to streamline the process.
“Half of these guys run beer routes,” McCoy said. “They said, let us run it like a beer route. The very last stop is going to be the first one loaded in the truck, and the very first stop is the last one to be loaded on the truck. They implemented it, and it has run beautifully.”
“I have a lot of guys who run UPS and Amazon trucks”, McCoy continued. “These guys, they do this every day on the civilian side. Just like their regular jobs, here, they have their routes down. This was one of the easiest transitions we’ve been able to do, and we have not failed yet; we have not missed a site, or a delivery, and it is definitely a more efficient process.”
McCoy also stated that the different shifts will compete against each other during the loading of the trucks, with McCoy timing each shift and comparing the times it took them to load up the meals.
“They really care about what they are doing, and they want to make the most out of it,” McCoy said.
With more than 600 Soldiers currently mobilized here, and an expectation of more than 2,000 by the middle of February, ensuring that all the processes for the mobilization and demobilization of these units is extremely important. With a vast set of military and civilian skills, McCoy said it is a task that the Soldiers of the 227th are more than willing to take on.
“I’m excited about being here,” Spc. Romeo Dilla of Long Beach, California, said. “You know you’re going to be a part of something that in history could be talked about. We have never had this Task Force Quarantine and the circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic. I feel like we are making an impact. As a Reserve Soldier, you feel like you are never going to be called to duty for something like this, and I think it’s a great opportunity.”