Airmen from the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, welcomed Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass during a visit to the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium, May 3, 2021.
Bass met with Airmen who are helping to support state and civilian partners administer more than 220,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Maryland residents.
“I had a quick break in the schedule, today, and drove up to one of our mass COVID vaccination sites in Baltimore, thinking Team 19 would boost some of the morale with the Maryland Air National Guard Airmen,” said Bass. “Instead they boosted ours!”
Bass, the 19th CMSAF and first female to serve as the highest ranking enlisted member of a U.S. military service, spoke with Airmen from various career fields at the 175th Wing. The significance of the visit was felt by the Airmen after they had just met another female leader making history in their chain of command the previous week.
“Meeting the first female Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force after just meeting the first female Vice President [Kamala Harris] was awesome and it’s historical,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Yarborough, a religious affairs superintendent assigned to the 175th Wing. “She was extremely personable and tried to make contact with every Airmen working at the site. As she proceeded through each section she took pictures with each Airmen and I truly thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to visit us.”
While touring the site, Bass coined 175th Wing Airmen who are going above and beyond to ensure a successful mission.
“I was humbled that the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force would hold my efforts in such regard that she would bestow her coin to me,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jamie Plakosh, flight commander assigned to the 175th Air Transportation Flight. “And as an officer, to be coined by an enlisted Airmen is always special to me. I find those instances are extremely rare, and I value those moments. This will always be a special coin for me, both because of who presented it to me and because of the circumstances.”
Airmen set up the mass vaccination site in 18 days and are helping operate it along with the University of Maryland Medical System, Maryland Department of Health, and the Maryland Stadium Authority.
“To our Air National Guard brothers and sisters, I can’t thank you enough for what you do,” said Bass. “Each of you is an ambassador for our Air Force, and I couldn’t be more proud.”