NEW YORK – The New York National Guard’s now-finished vaccination mission at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York was a joint service family affair for Mike Bice and his son Dylan.
New York Army National Guard Col. Michael Bice served as the incident commander at the site from January 12 to July 16, responsible for 620 National Guard military personnel and another 400 civilian employees of Joint Task Force Javits.
Bice would be joined by his son, New York Air National Guard Senior Airman Dylan Bice, who served as the site liaison with the New York Police Department, making sure information was shared and provided daily security briefings to his father and other task force leaders.
While they had vastly different responsibilities, serving in the same mission was a great experience for both of them, the two agreed.
“The ability to share a mission with my son as I wrap up my 30-plus year career is something I could have never imagined and will never forget,” Colonel Bice said.
Airman Bice, who left active duty and transferred to the New York Air Guard in February, said serving with his dad was “a unique opportunity.”
“Coming into the New York National Guard and given the chance to serve on a Task Force alongside my father, the same man I watched my entire life as my role model, has been truly amazing,” he added.
Colonel Bice, a Watertown resident, has been involved with COVID-19 operations at the Javits Convention Center since March of 2020.
The convention center was picked to serve an alternative care facility when it looked like New York City’s hospitals might be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. The New York National Guard set up a field hospital in the convention center which was staffed by active-duty military medical personnel.
Colonel Bice was selected to serve as the commander of the New York National Guard element, operating the logistics and administrative functions at the convention center.
The senior Bice served as the Incident Commander, closing the hospital in June 2020 after successfully treating 1,095 patients.
In January, Bice returned to the convention center, this time serving as the incident commander for National Guard, New York State employees and contract medical personnel working at the mass vaccination center as Operation Gotham Shield.
These weren’t the first times the older Bice had worked at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
In 2001, as a New York State Trooper, when his son was just three, he operated out of the convention center while supporting the state’s response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
While the older Bice served in the Army National Guard, his son said he decided to enlist in the Air Force in 2017 because he wanted to travel, and he liked the opportunities he saw in that service.
Besides, the Air Force recruiter “was the first to talk to me,” he added.
Airman Bice served with the 59th Medical Logistics Readiness Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, after finishing his training. He transferred to the New York Air National Guard in February and volunteered to report to the Javits Center soon afterward.
Having his son on the mission with him has been a point of pride, Bice said.
Seeing both family members working together illustrates how serving in the National Guard is often a family commitment, said Command Sgt. Major Robert Jenks, the senior enlisted leader for the Javits Center task force.
“This was a great opportunity for each of them to see what each other actually does, especially for Airman Bice to see his father overseeing the vast operation at the Javits Center as the Incident Commander,” Jenks said.
“This has truly been a rewarding moment for them both,” he added.
With the vaccination site now closed, Col. Bice returns to his traditional drilling status with the Joint Force Headquarters near Albany and his civilian career as a New York State Trooper. Bice plans to retire from military service in the spring of 2022. Airman Bice heads to a new assignment with the 2nd Civil Support Team at the Stratton Air National Guard Base near Schenectady, N.Y.