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171st ARW AFE shop produces masks

An Aircrew Flight Equipment technician sews a mask. Guardsmen are to wear masks at all times except when isolated from others and in a private place. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

An Aircrew Flight Equipment technician sews a mask. Guardsmen are to wear masks at all times except when isolated from others and in a private place. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Coraopolis, Pa. --

Over the course of a couple months the Aircrew Flight Equipment shop along with additional volunteers across the 171st Air Refueling Wing made approximately 600 masks in support of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was because of an initial request to equip the bases’ Fatality Search and Recovery Team members who were on stand-by to deploy that the AFE shop began making masks. The FSRT got sent to Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, Beaver, Pa., to assist with the COVID-19 outbreak. They also provided the masks to the 171st essential workers and Army National Guard members.

They used their medium weight sewing machines that typically maintain and repair operational aircraft equipment to sew the masks. The AFE shop typically work on life rafts, cargo seats, flight clothing and protective covering for equipment. Some masks were made from old uniform items while others used donated materials. The uniforms were washed and only the backs were used. Other cotton material that would normally be used for seat covers was used as well as unopened t-shirts.

It was a team effort to enable Guardsmen to continue completing the regular mission by utilizing preexisting training and equipment.