News Article View

Apart, together; Buzzards weather COVID-19 storm

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 510th Fighter Squadron soars above Aviano Air Base, Italy, March 16, 2020. The 31st Fighter Wing is dedicated to remaining lethal and rapidly ready while operating within the confines of the decrees set by the Italian government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 510th Fighter Squadron soars above Aviano Air Base, Italy, March 16, 2020. The 31st Fighter Wing is dedicated to remaining lethal and rapidly ready while operating within the confines of the decrees set by the Italian government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

Normally a place full of energy and motion, lately the 510th Fighter Squadron building has been abnormally quiet and nearly empty.

The squadron spent several months split into fourths with different reporting times and locations to help slow the spread of COVID-19; they may have been separated but the Buzzards were far from divided in strength.

“As we settle into the new normal we’re definitely learning and figuring out the best procedures and adapting accordingly,” said Capt. Tom Wood, 510th FS flight commander. “We’re quick to ID what is and isn’t sustainable, and the squadron as a whole has been flexible to the changes that have been implemented.”

Adaptability has been the key point in operations worldwide as new and unfamiliar measures were implemented to keep everyone, everywhere healthy and safe. In the span of only a few months, the Buzzards saw plenty of changes in their squadron alone - from the transition into separate teams following physical distancing guidelines, to the use of masks and elimination of hard-copy paperwork where possible.

“The biggest limitations would probably be us not being able to see each other,” said Airman 1st Class Taylor Cope, 510th FS squadron aviation resource management technician. “We can’t communicate as easily, because beforehand there would be almost all of us here and now there’s only one to two here at a time.”

The Buzzards have faced challenge after challenge, ever changing in the face of uncertainty, yet still they continue to “Rule!” and accomplish the mission on the daily. Moving forward into this time of a ‘new normal’, the most helpful lesson learned by the Buzzards these past few months is:

“Don’t underestimate the power of a good idea brought to the right people, and the ability of that to be rapidly implemented,” said Wood.

As the Airmen of the 510th return to their squadron following the lessening restrictions of Italian decrees, they intend to keep in mind the lessons they learned and adapt them to be used in future operations.