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644th CBCS keeps EMEDS ready

Airmen assigned to the 644th Combat Communications Squadron pose for a group photo at Naval Hospital, Guam, May 13, 2020.

Airmen assigned to the 644th Combat Communications Squadron pose for a group photo at Naval Hospital, Guam, May 13, 2020. The 644th CBCS constructed a seven-man team to support Expeditionary Medical Support System, bringing various capabilities to medical workers like worldwide telephone access, internet to communicate with local and stateside medical sources, and a local network for medical caregivers to use. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

Airmen assigned to the 644th Combat Communications Squadron work to keep communications operational at the Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS),  located at Naval Hospital, Guam, May 13, 2020.

Airmen assigned to the 644th Combat Communications Squadron work to keep communications operational at the Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS), located at Naval Hospital, Guam, May 13, 2020.  The 644th CBCS has built a viable and well-rounded network that continues to give medical caregivers at EMEDS the ability to communicate with medical sources locally and around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Curtis Lewis, 644th Combat Communications Squadron cyber transport supervisor, inspects a network server at the Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS), located at Naval Hospital, Guam, May 13, 2020.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Curtis Lewis, 644th Combat Communications Squadron cyber transport supervisor, inspects a network server at the Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS), located at Naval Hospital, Guam, May 13, 2020. Lewis, along with a team of Airmen assigned to the 644th CBCS, has built a viable and well-rounded network that continues to give medical caregivers at EMEDS the ability to communicate with medical sources locally and around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --

March 15th, 2020 was the day that confirmed COVID-19 had found its way to the Island of Guam. 644th Combat Communications Squadron (CBCS) Airmen knew that they were going to help, but didn’t know when.

This is common for the 644th CBCS. Their primary mission is to rapidly deploy combat-ready Airmen, to give communications in support of INDO-PACOM. This led them to the Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS), a medical center built at Naval Hospital from the ground up in a matter of days. The 644th CBCS was able to get communications up and running in 24 hours.

“The 644th CBCS was tasked to provide C2 communication (AFNET/SIPR voice and data) support for the EMEDS camp,” said Master Sgt. August Richards, 644th CBCS mission planning NCO in charge. “Our goal is to do just that. Provide the mission commander reliable and consistent C2 communication services around the clock as long as necessary.”

Currently, three computers and 10 phones have been integrated into EMEDS by the 644th CBCS. These communications allow roughly 20 EMEDS personnel to access medical records and communicate with local and off-island medical authorities.

The 644th CBCS tends to find itself engaging in humanitarian aid missions, as well as austere combat environments. According to Staff Sgt. Curtis Lewis, 644th CBCS cyber transports supervisor, coming out to EMEDS was nothing out of the ordinary for them.

“Just another day for us technically,” Lewis said. “ We deploy, we build, we sustain.”

Lewis, who is currently part of a seven-man 644th CBCS team at EMEDS, and Richards both noted that this job in particular gave the 644th a more responsive ability to give communication support to the medical site since the communications squadron is based out of Andersen Air Force Base and EMEDS is at Naval Hospital. This close proximity gives the 644th CBCS the ability to give stronger customer support when the need arises since their mission is around the clock, 24/7.

“Our Airmen are always flexible to support the customer’s needs,” Richards said. “Normally, once full communications are established, we fall back to customer service and handle communication problems when they come up. We can flex our shifts so more customer support is available during peak hours.”

Lewis said he noticed that since the job was taking place on island, there was a sense of unity among the 644th Airmen. He remembers that during the build-up that he noticed many Airmen who were not tasked for the job coming out and helping, and that the 6444th CBCS leadership visited every day to make sure everyone was okay. Lewis said this made him realize a newfound trust in his fellow Airmen.

“Once we had the green light, we were out here,” Lewis said. “We all have faith in each other. We all know that if something happens we can help each other because we help each other with our peace of mind.”

So whether it’s at home or overseas, 644th CBCS has what you need in regards to communications.

“Our job is to provide communications downrange,” Richards stated. “Whether that’s a humanitarian support mission or to project airpower in another location. While every user and location does have some unique aspects to it, we’re here to connect the warfighter with rapid communications anywhere at any time.”

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