None of the evacuees aboard the flights remained in the immediate area as of late Friday morning, Bourland said, as they already had, or were, making their way back to their respective homes.
This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to the Northwest Florida Daily News.
EGLIN AFB — Early Friday morning, a Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft touched down at Eglin Air Force Base’s Duke Field near Crestview.
On board were American citizens flown out of Colombia as part of a U.S. State Department effort to bring Americans back home as foreign borders tighten, along with commercial travel options, against the spread of COVID-19.
Friday morning’s flight, which touched down at 12:45 a.m., marked the second time in less than a week that Eglin Air Force Base, and the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), headquartered at Eglin AFB near Duke Field, had helped to get Americans back into the country.
A first Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 flight, from Panama, had touched down at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Eglin spokesman Andy Bourland.
In all, the flights brought 86 people back into the United States, according to Bourland. Passengers included State Department personnel, expatriate Americans and a group of Mormon missionaries, Bourland said.
Each of the flights also carried "several" 7th Group troops, Bourland said.
None of the evacuees aboard the flights remained in the immediate area as of late Friday morning, Bourland said, as they already had, or were, making their way back to their respective homes. The evacuees were exempted from a 14-day quarantine period, according to Bourland.
RELATED: COVID-19 RESTAURANT GUIDE: Restaurants in Destin, FWB, South Walton offering delivery, takeout
The Mormon missionaries, who made up the majority of passengers on the flight from Colombia, were immediately relocated to Pensacola, Bourland said. The remaining evacuees dispersed to their homes after spending an evening in the area, he explained.
RELATED: COVID-19 RESTAURANT GUIDE: Crestview area restaurants open for delivery or takeout
In an effort to ease any local fears that the evacuees had brought coronavirus to the community, Bourland explained that all had been screened for illness on multiple occasions during the evacuation.
"They all were screened three times to ensure there were no signs of illness, and none were ill," Bourland said.
The evacuees were screened once at the U.S. embassies in the countries they were leaving, once as they boarded the C-17s, and a final time as they exited the aircraft at Duke Field, where they were met by medical professionals from Eglin’s 96th Medical Group, according to Bourland.
The two flights are anticipated to be the only two such repatriation flights scheduled to come through Eglin AFB, Bourland said.