MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marines and Sailors attached to 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, wrapped up their vaccine support mission with U.S. Army North to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of the whole-of-government COVID-19 vaccination response on June 17, 2021. The battalion began to deploy assistance to the U.S. vaccination effort in early February consisting of three vaccination teams named Task Force Ray, Task Force Dewert, and Task Force Benfold. During the time of deployment, the teams had supported the administering of more than 196,000 vaccines to the communities of Arlington, TX, Baton Rouge, LA, and Medford, OR.
On February 19, the vaccine support mission began with Task Force Ray deploying to Arlington, Texas, and established a Community Vaccination Center at Globe Life Field where vaccines were administered to the local community.
“These Marines and Sailors stepped up to the plate and within 96 hours, they were ready to go and they did a phenomenal job,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mary Reyna, Chief Nursing Officer, 1st Medical Battalion.
At the time of their return from deployment, the Marines and Sailors of TF Ray vaccinated a total of 165,000 residents within their designated vaccination site at Tarrant County of Arlington, Texas, working alongside the Arlington Fire Department.
“In the Navy, we think of deployments as going on a ship in the middle of the ocean conducting security, and then we get told, you are going to Louisiana for humanitarian mission,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Glenn Gagarin, Senior Enlisted Leader for Surgical Company-Charlie, 1st Medical Battalion. “It was really a unique experience.”
The deployment of Task Force Dewert to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the first time FEMA had conducted a joint environment with the National Guard, local government authorities including the governor and mayor, the local fire department, emergency medical services and the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).
Only a week after the departure of TF De Wert, Task Force Benfold boarded their flight to Medford, Oregon to distribute a total of 26,000 vaccines at the County Community Vaccination Center (CVC) located at the Jackson County Expo.
“It really showcased the capabilities of med battalion while still supporting our garrison efforts and ongoing operations and exercises,” said Lt. Julio Menendez, operations officer, 1st Medical Battalion. “It was also the first time the Marine Corps has deployed a fully medical unit.”
“It’s a unique mission being humanitarian, and I think the military did a great job advertising what the U.S. military can do to help our citizens. This effort demonstrated how our military can help the people of our nation,” said Gagarin.
The vaccination support team names were picked to honor U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsmen Medal of Honor recipients to pay respect for their heroic actions. Hospital Corpsman Second Class David R. Ray and Hospital Corpsman Third Class Edward C. Benfold both served during the Vietnam War. Hospitalman Richard D. Dewert served during the Korean War. 1st Marine Logistics Group provides the six functions of logistics, including health services, to support I MEF as a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness.