JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Some reservists from the 459th Air Refueling Wing contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts through their civilian jobs. One of those members from the 459th Mission Support Group assists the federal government with U.S. vaccine delivery efforts across the nation.
Chief Master Sgt. Winstone Nisbet is the 459th Mission Support Group superintendent. When not on reserve duty, he’s a full-time 12-year Deputy U.S. Marshal with the U.S. Marshals Service. For the past two years USMS assigned him to Strategic National Stockpile Security Operations where, most recently, he’s been a part of a task force directly impacting COVID-19 vaccine operations in the U.S.
“I was assigned to the Strategic National Stockpile Security Operations (SNSSO) and we are tasked through Operation Warp Speed with providing armed security for all vaccine movement across the U.S” he said.
What began as Operation Warp Speed is now Operation COVID Response, and it’s a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense aimed to help accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Operation COVID Response and pharmaceutical companies adopted several strategies to accelerate vaccine development and mitigate risk.
Nisbet has been on the task force since November of 2020, and the possibility of contracting COVID-19 did not stop his efforts.
“When I got on the task force, I was not nervous at all,” he said. “I knew there was always the possibility of contracting COVID, but we took the necessary precautions to mitigate that.”
Nisbet’s responsibilities range from coordinating agency support to escorting shipments.
“Operation COVID Response provides a warning order to our liaison on required missions,” he said. “From there, we determine the level of security required to escort the shipment. We coordinate with multiple agencies to include our state and local law enforcement agencies for support. Once all coordination is complete we will provide armed escort from the manufacturing to the distribution site.”
The task force allows for safe shipment of vaccines and protection from any disturbance in the supply chain so American people can get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“The mission, while it may seem simple from the outside, is complex with all the coordination that goes into preparing and executing,” he said. “We would not be able to safely accomplish each mission if it were not for our state and local law enforcement agencies across the country and the hard working deputy U.S. Marshals that work every day to ensure the safe distribution of vaccines.”
Nisbet, a former Air Force Security Forces Squadron Airman, said his training in SFS complements his job as a U.S. Marshal.
“Both jobs complement each other,” he said. As a security forces member, my training in convoy operations gave me more knowledge in conducting these escort missions, and I am able to adapt to operate in an urban environment.”
Nisbet continues to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts with the task force.
“I take pleasure in knowing that I am playing an integral part in such a historical mission, and I’m proud that the U.S. Marshals Service and our program was selected to fill this critical role in getting vaccines safely to the American public.”