Northport High School history teacher Bryan Krahel understood when he made the decision to join the United States Air Force Reserves in 2014 that there would be risks and potential danger, particularly during a time of war. But when he was activated for the first time in early April, he had no idea that his call to service would be to engage in the fight against COVID-19.
“Our troops are trained and well prepared to combat enemies of all kinds, but this battle is one in which even the most seasoned and battle-hardened veterans would find great difficulty in responding to,” Mr. Krahel’s colleague Darryl St. George wrote. “Despite these challenges, it is inspiring and profoundly encouraging to see our men and women in uniform adapt and overcome as they join in the heroic struggle against this pandemic.”
Mr. Krahel is attached to the 106th Air Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach. When activated he reported for duty at Jones Beach. Initially, his duty consisted in working with the Army National Guard, overseeing traffic control and manning the checkpoints for the COVID-19 testing sites. However, his duties have changed and have become more involved.
Mr. Krahel is now working with Naval Corpsmen, Air Force and Army Medics through most of the test collection process.
“This was not part of any of Krahel's training and yet he, like so many others, was able to adapt to the challenges of these times and has done so with tremendous professionalism and great courage,” Mr. St. George wrote. “When one takes the oath of service, it is understood that there will be sacrifices and it is important for us to remember this. Certainly, we are living in a time, when we are all expected to make sacrifices, but there are those among us whose sacrifices are greater still.”
Mr. Krahel was scheduled to be married on April 18, and like so many, he was forced to postpone his wedding.
“There are many who have had to make this painful decision during this period, but for Krahel this heart ache has been compounded by his military activation and inevitable absence from his fiancée and family. Yet he does not allow himself to indulge in self-pity, nor does he look for sympathy, for he understands, like so many in our country today, that there is a job that needs to be done and he has made a commitment to ensure that it is done well,” his colleague wrote.
Mr. Krahel's orders have been extended to May 31 and may possibly be pushed into the summer, during which he could be relocated to the SUNY Old Westbury site.
“It is difficult to say what will happen. He tries to take it one day at a time, but there is a lot of uncertainty. We can all agree it is nearly impossible to know what exactly the future holds, but one thing that is certain: we will get through this and it is in large part due to people like Bryan Krahel,” Mr. St. George wrote. “So, we can allow ourselves to feel frustrated, sad and angry during this painful and trying time, but let us remember there are those among us who are fighting the good fight, so that we can soon have our lives back again."