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BMT Airmen transported by airlift to Sheppard, other training bases

Basic Military Training graduates off load from a plane at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 27, 2020. Usually the newest Airmen will arrive by bus to Sheppard, but to mitigate exposure Air Education and Training command opted to transport them via air lift. The airlines are contracted with the Air Force to pick up the Airmen in Lackland and transport them to Sheppard, Keesler AFB and other training bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

Basic Military Training graduates off load from a plane at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 27, 2020. Usually, the newest Airmen arrive by bus to Sheppard, but to mitigate exposure to COVID-19, Air Education and Training Command opted to transport them via air to Sheppard, Keesler AFB, Miss., and other training bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

Airmen in Training leaders hold up a banner at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 27, 2020. The Airmen in Training are welcoming their new wingmen who are arriving via air lift to Sheppard. Usually the newest Airmen will arrive by bus, but to mitigate exposure Air Education and Training command opted to transport them via air lift. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

Airmen-in-Training leaders hold up a banner welcoming new basic military training graduates at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 27, 2020. Usually, the newest Airmen arrive at Sheppard by bus, but to mitigate exposure to COVID-19, Air Education and Training Command opted to transport them via air. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

Sailors unload from an airplane to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 27, 2020. The sailors arrived from boot camp to continue their technical training at Sheppard. To help mitigate exposure to COVID-19 they were air lifted instead of the usual bus drive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio

Sailors unload from an airplane to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 26, 2020. The Sailors arrived from boot camp to continue their technical training at Sheppard. To help mitigate exposure to COVID-19, they were transported by instead of the usual bus ride. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

Col. Kenyon Bell, 82nd Training Wing commander, briefs the newest basic military training graduates once they off load from a plane at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 27, 2020. Bell greeted the newest Airmen by explaining why technical training continues as they are deemed mission essential and thanked the newest Airmen for their commitment to the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

Col. Kenyon Bell, 82nd Training Wing commander, briefs the newest basic military training graduates once they off load from a plane at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 27, 2020. Bell greeted the newest Airmen by explaining why technical training continues as they are deemed mission essential and thanked them for their commitment to the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – COVID-19 can’t stop the military. It can try, but national security is 24/7 and basic military training, along with technical training at Sheppard AFB and other training installations, continues on its mission to provide trained Airmen to protect and defend the country.

On March 27, 2020, around 200 newly graduated BMT Airmen arrived from Lackland AFB, Texas, to Sheppard by plane for their technical training.

“Our mission within Air Education and Training Command has been deemed mission essential,” said Col. Kenyon Bell, 82nd Training Wing commander. “We are very proud of the fact that combat capability starts here.”

Due to COVID-19, AETC opted to transport the graduates by plane instead of the traditional bus ride to Sheppard. The reasoning behind the new mode of transportation was to reduce the amount of stops taken during the trip, thus reducing the chances to come into contact with COVID-19.

“Normally, they would have bus transport them from Lackland,” said Lt. Col. Greg Schulke, 80th Operations Support Squadron director of operations. “It’s usually six hours on the bus and the bus will have to stop for gas and bathroom breaks. Now we’re doing an airlift to mitigate exposure for COVID-19.”

Additional precautions have been taken at both Lackland and Sheppard to account for force health protection. For example once transported to Sheppard, each Airman was screened by a team from the 82nd Medical Group before being brought to their new squadrons.

 Sheppard receives almost half of all BMT graduates for technical training, so its mission cannot be halted too much by the COVID-19 disease.

 “The basic military training pipeline continues and we receive and graduate 44% of that pipeline on an annual basis,” Bell said. “So what we do here at Sheppard AFB is essential to the nation’s defense. BMT graduates will continue to come here for technical training and we’re still training folks and pushing them on to their follow-on training and follow-on bases.”

With COVID-19 still evolving and the Department of Defense monitoring for further developments, Sheppard officials will continue to make decisions to protect its military community and continue to successfully accomplish the mission of creating mission-ready Airmen for the Air Force.

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