Gulfport Native on front lines of U.S. Military fight against COVID-19

By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Petty Officer Second Class Raven McQueen, a native of Gulfport, Mississippi, is playing a critical role in the U.S. Navy’s efforts to maintain a healthy and ready fighting force in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

As an aviation boatswain’s mate (equipment) serving with Navy Region Southwest Transient Personnel Unit (NRSW TPU) San Diego, McQueen is one of the 139 service members assigned to Task Force Southeast – Jacksonville, the primary Department of Defense (DoD) support organization for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response to COVID-19.

“I am responsible for flow facilitation that increases productivity and enhances patient’s experience,” said McQueen.

The DOD remains committed to breaking the cycle of transmission as it provides support to approved FEMA requests. Task Force Southeast – Jacksonville protects against COVID-19 outbreak and conducts response operations within FEMA regions III & IV.

“All of our Navy personnel here at the Jacksonville Community Vaccination Center are uniquely capable of providing immediate medical expertise and training to help counter the threat of the pandemic to our Nation,” said Capt. David Barrows, medical officer-in-charge of Task Force Southeast – Jacksonville and executive officer, Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Jacksonville. “We are proud and privileged to serve our country and community in time of need, right here at home.”

According to McQueen, a 2015 Gulfport High School graduate, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Gulfport.

“Growing up in South Mississippi, I was taught from a very young age that hospitality is a part of everyday life and something I would need to master well before becoming an adult,” said McQueen. “You will be surprised at how even the smallest gestures of thoughtfulness and kindness will make someone else smile whether it be holding a door open, offering up your seat or simply picking something up that was dropped. Each day that I am on-site, I try to touch someone’s life with a little bit of southern hospitality, and let them know that they are not fighting the COVID fight alone.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, McQueen, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition that dates back centuries. Their efforts, especially during this time of challenge brought on by the Coronavirus, will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who provide the Navy the nation needs.

“I am honored and humbled to be able to help the people of Jacksonville,” added McQueen. “The Navy has provided me with all the tools to be successful. I will do my best to serve the people of Jacksonville and along the way, I will be making my family and the people of South Mississippi proud.”

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