(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi National Guard is ending its nearly two-year mission in support of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A drawdown ceremony held on Wednesday was attended by Governor David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige.
From the Hawaiʻi National Guard on Wednesday:
The Hawai‘i National Guard’s Joint Task Force (HING JTF) has transitioned its remaining COVID-19 responsibilities such as vaccinations, testing, COVID-19 mapping, and unemployment office temperature screenings back to the state as of March 15, 2022.
“Our community welcomes, and counts on the National Guard for a sense of safety, security, and help,” Governor David Ige said this morning at the HING JTF Drawdown Ceremony. “The Hawai‘i National Guard continues to live up to its motto: ‘always ready, always there’, as evidenced by your work throughout the pandemic. I really want to thank you for choosing to be a public servant, for being a member of the Hawai‘i National Guard, serving as a contributing citizen in our community, but most importantly for being ready to answer the call when our community needs you.”
The HING JTF has been on orders assisting the state since April 6, 2020. The organization was first activated and put on State Active Duty orders before transitioning to Title 32 U.S.C. 502 (f) duty, which provided federal funding that covered up to 100% of the cost activities associated with all mission assignments in response to COVID-19.
At its peak, the HING JTF held about 1,300 Soldiers and Airmen on COVID-19 status across the state. About 300 Guardsmen make up the current force that off-ramped on March 15. These Guardsmen will take mandatory leave and then officially come off orders on April 1, 2022, returning to their full-time jobs or school with additional skills and experiences.
“The missions that the Hawai‘i National Guard executed for the state and counties contributed to the safety and security of the people of Hawai‘i in their battle against COVID-19 infections,” said Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi Jr., the Hawai‘i National Guard Joint Task Force Commander. “I am proud of our Guardsman who served our communities in their time of need.”
The Hawai‘i National Guard’s COVID-19 assistance to federal, state, and local authorities has been the longest state activation/mission in its history. Past long-term activations include Hurricane Iniki in 1992, the Kīlauea eruption in 2018, the Kaua‘i floods and landslides in 2018, and security support for the United States Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C. in 2021.