DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- America is writing a new chapter in its history and it will be one for the ages. The chapter will be defined by people coming together in a time of national crisis, and what we learned in the aftermath. One 919th Citizen Air Commando will end up in that book.When Lt. Col. Joseph Catalino, commander of the 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron, isn’t serving with the Air Force Reserve, he works as a civilian at the Pentagon for the office of the Secretary of Defense. Earlier this year, he was selected to be the Department of Defense Representative to the White House COVID-19 Task Force.
“Dr. Catalino has a broad background of government operations, DoD medical and non-medical operations, and extensive senior leadership experience,” said Brig. Gen. John J. Bartrum, COVID-19 Emergency Support Function eight deputy commander and mobilization assistant to the Air Force Deputy Surgeon General.
As part of the task force, Catalino helps to coordinate the DOD response to ensure manpower, equipment, capacities and capabilities are distributed as needed to state and local authorities in order to combat the virus.
“It has been the highlight of my career to work with so many people committed to serving the public good,” said Catalino, who has worked at the Pentagon since 2013. “As strong as this bug is, we are stronger and will come out of this. I have no doubt.”
Catalino served as medical technician in the New Jersey National Guard, a flight medic in the Air Force Reserve, and then commissioned as a Medical Service Corps officer. He has civilian experience in hospital systems, home healthcare, telemedicine, and has supported many humanitarian operations and Defense Support to Civil Authorities missions.
“We are lucky to have Lt. Col. Catalino as a United States Air Force Reserve medical unit commander and active reserve member,” said Bartrum. “This experience demonstrates how Citizen Airmen are a force multiplier to the U.S. military, as our Airmen bring much more capability to the fight beyond their specific job title through their civilian work experiences.”
While Catalino works to support the fight against COVID-19 at a national level, he continues to support his fellow Citizen Air Commandos at the 919th SOMDS on a local level.
“Each of our techs continue the hard work of maintaining the medical readiness and deployment processing for the only special operations wing in the Air Force Reserve.” said Catalino. “The 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron is the best medical unit I have been assigned to in my career. The members are professional, humble, and effective. I am very proud to be a part of their team.”
All levels of American society are responding to the pandemic. Academia, government, private business and public health organizations are all changing the way they operate in response to the pandemic to flatten the curve, including our medical personnel on the front lines.
"Medical professionals have always maintained respect from their communities,” said Catalino. “COVID-19 has cemented their place as heroes among us as they go to work knowing they will be exposed to the virus. They take precautions, sure, but knowingly walking into the fire takes an extra special person.”
To learn more about the up-to-date response to the COVID-19, go to the 919th Special Operations Wing Facebook page or visit https://www.919sow.afrc.af.mil.