Unmasking Maryland’s Citizen Soldiers

U.S Army National Guard Spc. Daniel Boback, a healthcare specialist with the 104th Medical Company Area Support, assists hospital staff at the COVID-19 testing site at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 14, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Devon Bistarkey
April 15, 2020

BALTIMORE, Md. – As front-line personnel around the country provide services during the COVID-19 response donning protective equipment often obscuring their identity, a movement to portray the person behind the mask aims to bring comfort to the communities they serve. The Maryland National Guard is working to reveal the service members behind the mask.

As neighbors helping neighbors, each hidden face is a citizen soldier serving alongside state agencies to ensure each Marylander receives the care and services they need. For many, like Spc. Daniel Boback, a healthcare specialist with the104th Medical Company Area Support, that meant putting school on hold to serve his community.

“It’s very rewarding being able to help out during this crisis and also being able to have a job because a lot of people don’t have that security right now,” said Boback.

Originally from Annapolis, Boback is a full-time student at Towson University studying business marketing and management, currently assisting with COVID-19 testing at the Pimlico Race Course testing site in Baltimore, Maryland.

Boback is working with Sinai Hospital health care professionals and local agencies to get people set up and ready for COVID-19 testing. While his training as a combat medic prepares him for the task, his two years in the MDNG has instilled in him the ability to adapt when needed during this somewhat unprecedented time.

“Most importantly in our training we learn to stay flexible, we are a good team and morale is up – everyone takes care of one another.”

Sentiments echoed by Boback and many of the other nearly 2,000 service members activated to support Maryland’s response to COVID-19, the time away from home is challenging but rewarding.

“I am glad that I can help in any way. I think we’re all looking for things returning to a sense of normalcy,” said Boback. “It’s been a lot of time spent working here, long days, and not being able to see your family because you don’t want to put them at risk.”

The MDNG is working in close coordination with the many agencies to support civil authorities to augment civil agency capabilities including medical augmentation, transportation support, food distribution, and more.