Fayette County native serving his own community on the pandemic frontline as a National Guardsman

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the West Virginia Army National Guard sent in teams to various regions across the state to assist local health departments. 

For Fayette and Nicholas Counties, they were assigned Fayette County Native Private Richard Perkins.

And when Private Perkins joined the National Guard in September, he did not think his first mission would be combating a virus. 

“I didn’t envision I would be doing anything like this,” he said. “Definitely helping the community, but not in this aspect.” 

However, when he got his orders in March to help the local health departments in the two counties, he jumped right in. 

“Private Perkins has become part of our office staff,” Fayette County Health Department Administrator Teri Harlan said. “He’s been incredibly supportive, just really been a great help to us. And we’ll miss him when he’s gone.” 

Although it is uncertain when this mission will be officially over for him, Private Perkins says he is taking it day-by-day trying to approach each one with a good attitude as he knows his days will be full of tasks both big and small.

These days his shifts are never typical as he is either mapping and doing data entry for COVID-19 in the office or at testing sites where you can find him handing out food, making copies, getting supplies or simply boosting morale. He is also the one who drives the specimens to the state lab when testing events are complete. 

“Even though you might not think you’re doing a lot, it’s the small things that count,” Private Perkins said. “It’s the little things that matter.” 

As someone who grew up in Gauley Bridge, doing the little things in such a giant operation in his own backyard where small details, organization and teamwork are all key, it keeps him motivated

“What makes me want to do this is the love that I have for West Virginia,” he said. “It feels really good to help my hometown and county and state.” 

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.