Edwards AFB Community Combines Teamwork, Innovation, Effort to Fabricate Cloth Masks

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Tech. Sgt. Roman Contreras, quality assurance, air crew flight equipment, 412th Operations Support Squadron, 412th Operations Group, 412th Test Wing, fabricates a cloth mask using available equipment in the Air Crew Flight Equipment section at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., April 7, 2020. Although cloth masks don’t offer full protection from COVID-19, the CDC advises that a simple cloth covering can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and not know it from spreading it to others. (Courtesy photograph)

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many on Edwards Air Force Base in California are collectively turning to each other and exercising their innate innovative culture to help meet emerging needs of the Test Wing community.

Such is the case with Airmen of the 412th Operations Support Squadron, 412th Operations Group, 412th Test Wing, who are pulling together various members in the Test Wing and fabricating cloth masks, April 7, to help equip the wing community in light of the recent DOD guidance to the workforce to use cloth face coverings on DoD property, installations, and facilities when it’s not possible to maintain six-feet of physical distance in public areas or work centers. 

Senior Master Sgt. Brian Holmes is the Aircrew Flight Equipment Superintendent at the 412th OSS and his team is responsible for inspecting, maintaining, repairing, and testing survival gear utilized by Test Wing aircrew.

Master Sgt. Henry Matsuoka, section chief, air crew flight equipment, 412th Operations Support Squadron, 412th Operations Group, 412th Test Wing, demonstrates proper use of a mask that was fabricated using available equipment in the Air Crew Flight Equipment section at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., April 7, 2020. (Courtesy photograph)

“A big part of the repair process requires us to be very proficient at sewing,” said Holmes. “Because of this, my team is figuring out a way to produce mass quantities of masks to try and help do our part for the Test Wing community.” The team immediately partnered with the on base spouse network who had already been building masks for a few days. 

Master Sgt. Henry Matsuoka, section chief, air crew flight equipment, 412th OSS, is heading up the project on the active duty side and is currently gathering materials available to him.

Along with help from Tech. Sgt. Roman Contreras, quality assurance, air crew flight equipment, 412th OSS, and Bob Celeya and Mark Dowling, both with Air Crew Flight Equipment, Matsuoka estimates they and can produce 100 cloth masks a day.

A cloth mask is fabricated by an Airmen with 412th Operations Support Squadron, 412th Operations Group, 412th Test Wing, using available equipment in the Air Crew Flight Equipment section at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., April 7, 2020. (Courtesy photograph)

“This all started yesterday, when my wife, who works for the 412th Maintenance Group, asked if I could make some masks for her work center,” said Matsuoka. “After getting authorization from our leadership, we’ve been making masks for the maintenance section and for other sections in the Operations Group.” 

Although cloth masks don’t offer full protection from COVID-19, the CDC advises that a simple cloth covering can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and not know it from spreading it to others. 

However, the ‘call to action’ and initiative demonstrated by the Airmen of 412th Test Wing has run infectious and Matsuoka anticipates more volunteers to assist in the next coming days that will help ramp up production.
 
 
 

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