‘Guardian’ of Airmen: Devil Raider embraces wingman concept amidst COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. David W. Carbajal
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

The concept of a “wingman” is older than the Air Force itself. 

In its original form, it was meant to be a pilot who would fly alongside another in a potentially dangerous flying environment; to be their second set of eyes, watch over them and do everything they can to protect them. This concept is still intact and is instituted at the earliest stages of Air Force basic military training, but now encompasses all Airmen.

One “Guardian” from the 621st Contingency Response Squadron has taken this concept to a new level recently.

“In my eyes, I just gave my fellow Airman a ride from the airport,” said Airman 1st Class Shakera Wilson, 621st CRS aerial porter. 

What Wilson won’t admit is everything she’s done beyond that. 

“To say that she’s gone above and beyond would be an understatement,” said Airman 1st Class Jaime Lovelace.

Lovelace graduated technical training March 20 and, shortly after, was diverted from her original overseas assignment due to COVID-19 restrictions to become a “Guardian” as a member of the 621st CRS. Lovelace was anxious about COVID-19, being away from family and traveling to an unfamiliar place. That’s where Wilson came in.

Despite the potential contraction of coronavirus, Wilson volunteered to pick up Lovelace from the airport, drove her to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and even got her settled into her hotel.

“She was so helpful, she helped me with my bags, we talked about family and why we joined,” said Lovelace. “It was nice to feel so welcomed.”

Wilson, who calls St. Andrews Parish near Kingston, Jamaica home, remembered the feeling she had when she first flew in and wanted to replicate that for Lovelace.

“I remember when I first arrived, my sponsor picked me up from the airport and brought me back to base,” said Wilson. “I didn’t feel alone and that was very comforting.”

But Wilson, a fellow “Port Dawg,” didn’t stop there. Prior to Lovelace’s arrival, Wilson found out what kinds of snacks Lovelace liked and made a commissary run to get them.

“She picked up juice, bananas, Goldfish, candy, all sorts of things,” said Lovelace. “It was so very nice of her to do that.” 

That “comfort food” has helped Lovelace as she’s been in a 14-day quarantine since arriving to JBMDL at the end of March.

Lovelace was not the only Airman that Wilson has assisted since the 621st Contingency Response Wing has gone to mostly teleworking. 

Out of an abundance of caution, three Airmen who worked alongside a member who exhibited symptoms similar to COVID-19 were directed to self-quarantine to reduce the potential spreading of the virus. During this quarantine, Wilson volunteered to pick up meals from the dining facility for each of them. 

“They were all in the dorms with me, so I wanted to help,” said Wilson. “It was hectic at times, calling each of them, telling them what food was available and trying to get the stuff they wanted. But hey, if I were in their shoes, I know someone would do that for me.”

Going out of her way to help others is something Wilson is known for.

“This is very characteristic for Airman Wilson,” said Staff Sgt. Preston Reese, a 621st CRS aerial port flight supervisor. “She’s the first to volunteer and is always ready to help others.”