Ready Tiger 24-1 tests Mortuary Affairs Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Deanna Muir
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

In the solemn corridors of military operations, there is a vital yet often overlooked aspect of service — Mortuary Affairs. Far from the frontlines, these Airmen carry out a sacred duty: to honor and care for the fallen.

During Exercise Ready Tiger 24-1, Airmen were challenged to respond effectively to a simulated base attack with five casualties, testing their preparedness and expertise in Mortuary Affairs operations as well as their ability to uphold their composure and utmost professionalism.

“The Airmen were evaluated on how well they demonstrated unwavering focus during a high-pressure situation,” said Master Sgt. Desmond Boone, 23rd Wing Inspection Team member. “Even in stressful situations, members must display the mental capacity to show profound respect for fallen warriors, dignifying their sacrifice and preserving their memory with honor and respect.”

During the exercise, the evaluators tested the wing's security response to an aggressive early morning ground incursion. The aggressors were met with lethal force, but not before simulating multiple injuries and deaths to base Airmen.

Amid the chaos and devastation of a mass casualty event like this, the work of Mortuary Affairs personnel bring order and compassion to an otherwise overwhelming situation. Mortuary Affairs Airmen are responsible for the recovery, identification and transportation of remains – tasks that require extensive training in military protocols and regulations.

Their training emphasizes attention to detail and adherence to protocol to ensure accuracy and dignity in handling the fallen – skills that Airmen executed flawlessly during Exercise Ready Tiger, according to Boone.

“We provide an empathetic approach and attention to detail to help alleviate some of the burden and distress associated with the loss of a loved one,” said Staff Sgt. Orlando Flores, 23rd Force Support Squadron readiness and planning noncommissioned officer in charge. “We facilitate a dignified and respectful farewell to their loved ones, contributing to the process of closure and healing for the families and friends.”

While the exercise inject only touched the initial stages of the mortuary response, for real mass casualty incidents in a hostile or austere location, several resources and units would be involved to ensure safety of the team during a recovery mission. This would include combat search and rescue, search and recovery, medical evacuation and more.

“All these units and resources work together in a coordinated effort to ensure the safe and efficient recovery of personnel in challenging and hazardous environments,” Flores said.

Each unit plays a vital role in executing the Mortuary Affairs mission to fulfill the nation’s sacred commitment of ensuring Dignity, Honor and Respect to the fallen while providing Care, Service and Support to their families.

“Being part of this team often involves a deep sense of duty and pride,” Flores said. “It is a profound commitment to service, honor and compassion. It means taking on a solemn responsibility to care for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country and to support their grieving families during incredibly difficult times.”

Mortuary Affairs is not just about preparing for emergencies — it's about honoring the legacy of those who have served and sacrificed everything for their country and upholding the bond between service members, their families and the nation they swore to defend.