Wright Patterson commander and top NCO talk COVID, challenges

Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer (left), 88th Air Base Wing command chief, and Col. Patrick Miller, 88 ABW and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base commander, take a selfie with Air Force Delayed Enlistment Program members Aug. 21 at Day Air Ballpark as part of the Dayton Dragons Hometown Heroes Night event. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/WESLEY FARNSWORTH

Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley

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Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer (left), 88th Air Base Wing command chief, and Col. Patrick Miller, 88 ABW and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base commander, take a selfie with Air Force Delayed Enlistment Program members Aug. 21 at Day Air Ballpark as part of the Dayton Dragons Hometown Heroes Night event. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/WESLEY FARNSWORTH

Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley

The commander and top non-commissioned officer of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base reviewed the past two years and offered parting remarks in a new video posted Tuesday.

Col. Pat Miller and Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, both soon ending their tours at Wright-Patterson, spoke with each other in the 18-minute-plus video, posted this morning to Facebook.

Miller will hand the flag to Col. Christopher Meeker in a ceremony Thursday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Miller’s next assignment will take him to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where he will be director of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection at the headquarters of the Pacific Air Forces.

Shaffer is headed to the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

“When you look at the mission side, all right, obviously the last two years have been dominated by COVID,” Miller said in the video. “And that’s given us some amazing opportunities. You look at how we’ve had to navigate the installation, the community, through the different HPCON (Health Protection Condition) levels, going from no vaccines, to vaccines available, to vaccine distribution, issuing the second most vaccines in the United States Air Force.”

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88th Air Base Wing headquarters on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

88th Air Base Wing headquarters on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

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88th Air Base Wing headquarters on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

The base, Ohio’s largest single-site employer, moved most workers to remote work locations off the installation in the early days of the pandemic, about two months before Miller assumed command of the Air Base Wing — Wright-Patterson’s host unit — in June 2020.

And the pandemic remains a concern. With COVID-19 case numbers rising, Wright-Patterson returned to a more stringent HPCON “Bravo” from “Alpha,” effective noon Sunday, the base said on social media over the weekend.

ExploreWright-Patt returns to ‘Bravo’ health protection condition

The new designation brings with it a minimum weekly requirement of testing for employees who have not received the COVID vaccine, the base said.

The base also deployed 119 medics to Detroit, Mich. to issue more than 240,000 vaccines during the pandemic, sending out five medical support teams, establishing an “aggregation mission” to support those deploying, so “they don’t carry the virus inadvertently downrange,” all while trying to keep child care centers and other base missions open, Miller added.

“It has been a dynamic environment that has given us an opportunity to do some amazing things,” Miller said. “An environment where we were only bound by our imagination.”

“We have some of the most outstanding professionals in the Air Force … and they’re killing it,” Shaffer said.

“Take away COVID, right,” Miller said. “COVID was just this unique thing. We still had the normal, day-to-day things in running this installation.”

Both men had appreciative words for each other, Shaffer saying to Miller at one point: “This has been amazing because of you.”

“I appreciate that,” Miller responded.

“For me it has always been about trying to do justice by the team, trying to be the best servant-leader I can be,” the commander said.

Shaffer said mission chiefs have a chance to make an impact on the installation as a whole. “It was really awesome, sir, just being able to help so many people.”

The 88th Air Base Wing has 5,000-plus employees.

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