NORFOLK, Va. - Sailors based in Hampton Roads are serving on the front lines of the pandemic by helping carry out the mission of getting people around the country COVID-19 vaccines.
One of those Sailors is Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Fite, who has served in the Navy for more than 14 years. This past year, he has served at Naval Station Norfolk as a master-at-arms with the Transient Personnel Unit.
“I kind of call Norfolk my second home, in a sense,” Fite told News 3. “Ever since we moved here last year, before the pandemic, the first thing I told my wife was, 'This feels just like home.'”
But for about a month, his assignment has been in Jacksonville, Florida, with a task force supporting FEMA and helping get COVID-19 vaccines to the local community.
“It's an honor and privilege to serve on our soil,” Fite said. “It means a lot to me to be able to be down here and be able to give back to the community.”
Fite volunteered for the mission -- and he told News 3 that it’s personal to him.
“I've lost a cousin to COVID and, to me, that lets me know that this is a serious battle,” he said. “A lot of times we don't realize how important vaccination is and how important COVID is until it reaches someone that you love.”
Fite's duties include working with a team, providing administrative and logistical support to FEMA.
“We see them through from start to finish,” he said.
“Ensure that we have proper patient flow… getting vaccines on the floor ready to go and make sure that people are taken care of,” Fite added. “You focus on each individual that's coming in the door. You focus on ensuring that their needs are met. That goes a long way towards not just helping the community, but it also helps the nation as well.”
For Fite, the message is clear being about the mission at hand.
“This is something, I'll be honest, is one of those experiences that you're just going to remember,” he said. “Every person that we vaccinate will help - not just the community that's here, but also the nation.”