News | Jan. 13, 2021

NH Guard Vaccination Missions Continue

By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson

Neon orange traffic cones line a drive-thru route for vaccine recipients at the former Sears automotive center in Concord like lights lit along a runway at night.

On closer approach, soldiers and airmen emerge from the framework, moving with sense of purpose.

“We each have a role,” said Sgt. Alexander Descoteaux, a mechanic with the 744th Forward Support Company, who documents the arrival time of each vehicle.

As they begin their second full week of the state’s three-phase vaccination mission, the Guardsmen have gelled quickly into a cohesive team. They follow the same schedule each morning. The process is rhythmic and smooth. They accompany each customer from start to finish. Junior enlisted direct traffic, work the automatic bay doors, and monitor the observation area while medics administer vaccines and take direction from the operations coordinator.

They keep an eye on the vaccine stocks, fuel levels of generators and take care of any general maintenance.

“We’ve definitely come up with new solutions as far as getting people in and out efficiently,” said Pfc. Alex Guammario, a fire control specialist with the 197th Field Artillery Brigade. “There aren’t nearly as many lines. Now we have a constant flow of traffic. Everyone is busy all day.”

Concord is one of 13 vaccination stations the NHNG has set up across the state. About 140 New Hampshire Guard Soldiers and Airmen are assigned to the mission. About 300 more have been supporting pandemic relief efforts at the state prison, veterans home and 211 call center as well as managing PPE distribution.

“Just like anything with COVID, we didn’t have much time for rehearsals,” said 2nd Lt. Stuart Burychka, platoon leader of the 3643rd Brigade Support Battalion and officer in charge of the Concord vaccination site. “With repetition we have all become more comfortable. Now we have a good process down.”

The team is focused, he added.

“It means a lot to be part of the biggest mission the New Hampshire National Guard has been involved in,” said Guammario, leading the cars out of the garage. “I feel honored to be helping my community.”