Comm Airmen busy to keep 621 CRW teleworkers connected during COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sarah Brice
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing

While many members of the 621st Contingency Response Wing are teleworking during COVID-19, two Airmen are still coming in to work to keep an essential part of the mission going at Joint-Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey.


A challenging situation appeared March 9, just a little more than a day before JB-MDL announced a policy to limit in-person essential missions and maximize teleworking in response to COVID-19. A new virtual private network came out and everyone's computers needed to be updated. VPN mimics government networks and allows employees to telework.


Since everyone was suddenly teleworking, Staff Sgt. Kevin Schroeder and Senior Airman Jonathan Cogdell, 621st Contingency Response Support Squadron client systems technicians, were flooded with a deluge of people needing help with their VPN for the first week of COVID-19.


“Cogdell and I have been killing it just making sure people can work from home,” said Schroeder. “We understand how important our job is because if we're not doing it, other people can't do their jobs. Our customers are first.”


The flood has died down, but the client systems Airmen still stay at work to help with any critical problems that arise. Their job includes fixing government hardware, software and mobile devices. Each Airman takes care of 8-10 cases of equipment problems every day on top of routine paperwork and other office tasks.


Schroeder said that working in the information technology field is usually a thankless job. This sort of reception could be difficult to handle when they’re one of the only people working in an otherwise empty building because everyone else is teleworking.


However, 621st CRW leadership has taken note of Cogdell's and Schroeder's dedication, teamwork and positive attitude during these trying times. Their direct supervisor has stopped by to ask how they're doing and provide the Airmen with disinfectants for the equipment they work on, and their own wing commander comes in frequently to ask them if there is anything he can do to help.


“Their hard work and resilience through the COVID-19 pandemic has truly been inspiring,” said Lt. Col. Shane Hughes, 621st CRSS commander. “Every time I walk into the communications office, they are there solving problems with a positive attitude and smiles on their faces.”


Schroeder said that his leadership is essential for him and Cogdell to get their mission done.


“I've been in the Air Force for some time, and this is the best group of leaders I've had,” said Schroeder, “If it wasn't for leadership we wouldn't be able to do what we do.”


A common saying among comm is “no comms, no bombs,” meaning they help the mission run, and the 621st CRSS comm will keep the mission running during this unique COVID-19 situation.


“We're glad to do our job and play our part,” said Schroeder.


Schroeder and Cogdell are a part of a team of six total client systems technicians assigned to the 621st CRW. They are the only ones managing any concerns in their field that apply to the east coast operating location while a team of four Airmen from the 821st Contingency Response Support Squadron assist customers performing the wing's unique, bi-coastal mission at Travis Air Force Base, California.