Hoosier citizen-soldiers trade in parachutes for sewing machines

By Cpl. Hannah Clifton | 338th Quartermaster Company | May 12, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS —

 In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Indiana National Guard parachute riggers with the 338th Quartermaster Company executed a unique mission making protective face masks for fellow Hoosier Guardsmen.

This six-man team typically donned their uniforms to pack parachutes and jump out of aircraft during their required military duty. However, these citizen-soldiers set aside their parachutes and enthusiastically volunteered to participate in the COVID-19 response by collectively sewing approximately 200 face masks a day.

“This is a different goal and mission set, and definitely a unique one,” said Sgt. Mark Monson, parachute rigger with the 338th Quartermaster Company. “It is more of a civil duty.”

When the mission first began, the Indiana National Guard unit reached out to fellow parachute rigger units in Rhode Island and Utah, who were also making masks. Taking advice and learning from other states’ processes, the Hoosier team wasted no time and began production quickly and efficiently.

Working diligently each day, the 338th’s COVID-19 response team had high morale, comradery, a sense of purpose and pride to contribute to the community during unprecedented times. The opportunity to make a powerful and direct impact in their home state was why many soldiers, like Spc. Alex Soliday, made the commitment to join the Indiana National Guard.

“This is a mission for our community, and I feel like that is really important,” said Soliday, parachute rigger with the 338th Quartermaster Company. “We are also civilians and live a civilian lifestyle. We understand that we need to help each other out.”