KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. — When Staff Sgt. Nick Johnson ran by the Kingsley Field Base Exchange for a snack and something to drink, he noticed that the cashier didn’t have a sneeze guard like the local grocery stores.

“Nick Johnson came over on Monday,” said Amber Simpson, the BX store manager, and asked if there were any plans to provide a “sneeze guard”.

“They didn’t have one,” said Johnson, “and so I asked if they wanted one.”


After thinking about it for the duration of the walk from the BX back to the aircraft structural maintenance shop he figured out an easy way to make a mobile stand to protect the cashiers who work at the store.

Within an hour he located a suitable piece of plexiglass and some strips of aluminum that his shop keeps on-hand. He bent the aluminum into “L” angles and drilled mounting holes in both, and then assembled a serviceable “sneeze guard”. He estimated it took just over an hour once he got started.

“Within two hours he was back with it,” said Simpson. “I told him that we appreciated it and that he was watching out for us!”

When asked about it Johnson seemed surprised that it was a topic of conversation.  The maintenance group deputy, Maj. Rich Schuster, explained that it’s just a normal part of the culture at the maintenance group and across Kingsley Field as a whole.

“It was just a no-nonsense, ‘I see a need and I just took care of it,’” said Schuster. “I think we take it for granted that at Kingsley when we see a need we just become the solution.  He looked at this and immediately said ‘I can fix this.’”

He went on to say that in his experience that culture is unique and that it’s one of the reasons the 173rd Fighter Wing has endured challenges and even thrived as an organization over the years.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service Store Manager Amber Simpson smiles from behind a new “sneeze guard”, made by a member of the 173rd Fighter Wing aircraft structural maintenance shop when he noticed they didn’t have one, April 17, 2020. Thanks to the efforts of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nick Johnson the Kingsley Field Base Exchange has a “sneeze guard” in order to better help protect store staff and customers from transmitting COVID-19 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Richard Schuster)

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