In a five-part series, feature stories will be based on families of service members and daily life on the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport during the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

by Ryan Labadens, NCBC Public Affairs

Acting like a good neighbor has come to mean more than just a catchphrase for an insurance company recently during the COVID-19 outbreak, especially when it comes to the relationship the people at Keesler Air Force Base (AFB) has with the personnel at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Miss.

Personnel from Keesler’s Commissary, right next door in Biloxi, Miss., have been doing their part to provide some much-needed assistance to the NCBC Commissary after one of NCBC’s workers tested positive for COVID-19.

“We had a lot of front-end workers who had come into contact with [that individual] and were put on the 14-day quarantine, and when they were put on that quarantine that really hit us hard,” said Walt Taylor, NCBC Commissary store director, who noted that a good portion of the workers who had to be quarantined were cashiers.

After receiving guidance from the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), Taylor reached out to his counterpart at Keesler AFB, Marty Roberts, the Keesler Commissary store director, to see if he could spare any personnel from his store to work at NCBC.

Taylor noted that he and Roberts already had a good working relationship established even before the COVID-19 outbreak, and as such Keesler’s store director was more than willing to help. Taylor contacted him Tuesday, March 24, and Roberts sent additional cashiers over to work at Gulfport the very next day. One cashier from Keesler had already started volunteering on Tuesday, and then Roberts sent two additional cashiers over to help on Wednesday.

“Working with Mr. Roberts at Keesler, he was able to supplement the workforce and help us out by sending some associates to cover for us on the front end,” said Taylor.

Besides the personnel Keesler provided, Taylor noted the assistance the commissary has been receiving from its neighbors onboard NCBC as well.

“The base has really reached out and provided a lot of support,” said Taylor. “We’ve had volunteers coming in to help from other areas, especially active-duty. They’d come in and help stock and keep things up to date as much as possible. It’s been a real community effort.”