RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany –
Since Jan. 4, 2021, more than 37,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to Airmen and eligible beneficiaries, with the help of an astounding Airman.
Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.
Smith works as the 86 OMRS warrior medicine clinic flight chief, overseeing operations for multiple staff members that render comprehensive care for approximately 8,000 active duty service members, supporting 175 units and three wings.
“We take care of the majority of their health care needs,” Smith said. “From checking blood pressures, vital signs and providing medications, we basically take care of their health and wellness and ensure that they’re ready to deploy.”
Since the COVID-19 vaccine has been on the scene, Smith has been the continual point of contact for all of the 86th Medical Group vaccine lines, directly overseeing the schedule, patient administration and treatment rendered by 48 medics.
“From the moment that the vaccine dropped, she was there the whole time,'' said Staff Sgt. Hannah Zink, 86 OMRS warrior medicine clinic element lead. “She assisted in creating the layout for the vaccine operation and led most lines from start to finish.”
Smith is also responsible for streamlining the COVID-19 vaccine line, resulting in the inoculation of approximately 2,500 active duty service members, dependents and civilians, within the past 40 days.
“With the initial surge of vaccinations, we couldn’t always receive Airmen from the Medical Group to man the doors, check people for COVID-19 symptoms or their temperatures, so the line was very slow,” Zink said. “Smith coordinated with the American Red Cross to fill those manpower and screening positions, which enabled a more efficient process to increase the number of patients vaccinated.”
As a leader, Smith is in charge of a flight of 26 active duty members in whom she receives extreme satisfaction ensuring that they are fully taken care of and good to go, treating them as family.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Smith is service before self,” Zink said. “She’s absolutely one of the most selfless leaders I’ve ever worked with. I don’t think she ever goes home before 7 p.m., she’s always working on our education records, our schedule, reviewing our bullets that we write and helping us be better noncommissioned officers.”
Her family is her “why,” Smith said. They’re the reason that she continually strives to be her best, so that she can support them and be an example.
When she’s not with her military family in uniform, Smith loves to spend time with her 11-year-old son, Kaileb, taking him to soccer games and traveling throughout Europe.
Smith has visited multiple countries during her tenure at Ramstein since 2017. Her favorite place that she has been to is Greece, where she describes it as “peaceful and serene.”
Smith plans on serving for at least 20 years, furthering her education in human resources and hopes to leave the Air Force better than she found it.