23rd FSS improves readiness through Mortuary Affairs

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Thomas Johns
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 23rd Force Support Squadron exercised mortuary affairs duties during Ready Tiger 22-01 from February 28 to March 4 at Moody Air Force base, Georgia.

During the weeklong exercise, 23rd FSS Airmen were tested on their ability to respond to simulated casualties after an attack, track manpower, report accountability and perform mortuary processes in environments where communication may be degraded or contested.

“The 23rd FSS is practicing mortuary affairs to challenge our capabilities as a Lead Wing to respond to multiple casualties,” said Capt. Kaislie Duffy, 23rd Wing A-staff director of manpower and personnel. “Not only is mortuary important for the care of our fallen members, but it also helps maintain 100% accountability in a contested environment.”

Duffy explained that mortuary processes are necessary to ensure the A-staffs personnel support for contingency operations, or PERSCO, requirements are fulfilled by keeping an up to date count of available manpower.

Within the force support squadron career fields, Airmen are trained in mortuary affairs duties which include casualty collection, casualty identification and coordination of remains transfer with medical and command staff. It’s a somber task, and the team during Ready Tiger took their responsibilities seriously

“The type of scenario we conducted applies to the real world threats we face today,” said Staff Sgt. Steven Meyer, 23rd FSS Fitness Journeyman. “Making sure our team is ready and knows the process will allow us to execute our mission and ensure the member is accounted for, processed and returned in a timely manner.”

During the mortuary affairs portion of the exercise, several simulated casualties were collected, processed and loaded onto an HC-130J Combat King II to be transferred to a simulated collection location.

While processing the casualties, the team used existing manpower numbers to ensure full accountability of exercise players. This enabled A-staff to manage follow-on manpower accordingly and provide an accurate assessment of remaining available forces.

“Ultimately we support guidance and perspective,” Duffy explained. “We are able to report accountability as needed to the commander when it events happen at the deployed location.”

Although casualties are an unfortunate possibility during conflict, the 23rd FSS practices mortuary affairs procedures to prepare for any situation and be ready to continue the U.S. Air Forces honored traditions through dignified transfers.

“Mortuary operations are not typical in our day-to-day, for that reason it is important to always be prepared to execute in case of an event,” Meyer said. “We want to make sure we honor the member and get them home in a timely manner for their family.”