Civil Air Patrol delivers COVID-19 vaccine to Watertown hospital
Making the inaugural delivery flight was Lt. Col. Jeremy Langrock, Maj. Karla West, and Mission Pilot Capt. Matt Meert.
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Civil Air Patrol’s South Dakota Wing delivered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Prairie Lakes Hospital in Watertown on Tuesday. The wing is flying the Pfizer vaccine to certain smaller communities in state with its fleet of single-engine aircraft.
“This is truly a turning point in the battle against COVID-19,” said Col. Nick Gengler, South Dakota Wing Commander. “Through the efforts by the South Dakota Department of Health, its health partners and Civil Air Patrol we were able to coordinate an effective way to contribute to this mission. Our professional volunteers stepped up today to provide a service to the local communities. We will continue to be of service and look forward to ways we can continue to contribute.”
The wing will likely fly additional sorties to deliver the Pfizer vaccine distributed to smaller communities that do not have regularly-scheduled air service. Wing aircraft and aircrews are located in Sioux Falls, Pierre, Rapid City, Spearfish, Pierre and Brookings. They can deploy its six aircraft and its vans where needed to assist in emergency response and other support to local, state, tribal and federal agencies. The wing has over 400 members in units in Sioux Falls, Tea, Brookings, Mitchell, Miller, Pierre, Rapid City, Spearfish, and Custer.
“Thanks to the robust support of CAP National Headquarters and 1st Air Force, we are well on our way to providing a much-needed service to the people of South Dakota,” said Lt. Col. Todd Epp, Mission Incident Commander. “We are happy to partner with Governor Kristi Noem and the Department of Health in their efforts to keep South Dakotans safe from the coronavirus.”
For information about South Dakota’s vaccination program, contact Daniel C. Bucheli, Communications Director at the SD Dept. of Health, at Daniel.Bucheli@state.sd.us.
Established in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and 1,944 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of all search and rescue operations within the contiguous United States as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.