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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | April 20, 2020

89th MXG survival shop technicians use sewing skills to address mask shortage

By Airman 1st Class Spencer Slocum 11th Wing Public Affairs

Normally, the 89th Maintenance Group survival shop does things such as reupholstering and repairing damaged aircraft seats. Now, the Airmen there can be found at sewing machines making face coverings to help combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a department-wide memo requiring individuals wear cloth face coverings on DoD installations when they cannot maintain six feet of distance between people.

 

“Developing guidance says people should be wearing masks,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hulun, 89th MXG deputy commander. “Based on that guidance, we switched almost overnight from maintaining the aircraft during this lull, to making the masks to help protect our Airmen.”

 

The unique 89th MXG fabrication capability has allowed the shop to make more than 700 masks in the last two weeks, said James Wilson, 89th MXG survival shop lead. The goal is to provide masks to 89th mission-essential personnel and others based on need, he added.

 

The shop has had some help, too. Wilson said people from other shops around the 89th -- both Airmen and civilians with sewing or pressing skills -- stepped up to support the mission. And all that teamwork was supplemented by a retired Marine who worked at an off-base fabric store.

 

“Creating a relationship with an off-base fabric shop is one of the last things I would have thought about,” said 1st Lt. Trey Riley, 89th MXG executive officer. “However, this situation has created that need and now, we can help expedite the process for the betterment of people we are supporting."

 

Riley said the service at the fabric shop was excellent, and it was augmented by the cooperative and relationship-centered attitude shared by a fellow veteran.

 

He said that the sudden need for face coverings underscores a good opportunity to encourage collaboration inside and outside the military, and those connections are what can allow Joint Base Andrews to be ready to tackle any future obstacles.