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179th Airlift Wing Members Increase Readiness

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  • By Story by Airman 1st Class Alexis Wade
  • 179th Airlift Wing

As the hot sun beat down on them, they stood side by side, taking synchronized steps, meticulously scanning the tall grass for any remains that could be scattered throughout the area.

For Services Airmen with the 179th Mission Support Group, Search and Rescue was just one aspect of the two-day readiness exercise held at the 179th Airlift Wing during the month of May.

“The purpose of the exercise was to practice the 179 Airlift Wing’s ability to function in a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment, increasing our readiness and building a more lethal force,” said Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Chapman, 179th AW Installation Emergency Manager.

One exercise Airman from the Services Flight participated in was search and recovery efforts, a vital part of their role in Mortuary Affairs.

Mortuary Affairs is a side of services that is not often discussed, but is a crucial part of the mission.

In the event of a crash or attack, the Services Flight conducts search and recovery efforts by sweeping for any human remains or personal items by moving through the impacted site in synchronized steps. If an item or body part is found, they stop to identify and label it before continuing the sweep.

“This training is important because we don’t get to it every day,” said Staff Sgt. Jessica Thompson, member of the 179th Services Flight. “It’s a good refresher so that if this ever happens in the real world, we will know what we need to do.”

Search and recovery was one aspect of readiness the Airman got to practice. However, throughout the exercise Airman across the base had the opportunity to grow their knowledge and readiness for functioning in limited environments through many different scenarios.

Airman across the entire base practiced quickly donning Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear in the event of being in a toxic environment during a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) strike.

Other scenarios included Security Forces Squadron responding to protestors and aircrew conducting the decontamination process.

Overall, the exercise was a success in expanding the proficiency and readiness to continue performing mission critical tasks.

“The lessons learned during the exercise will allow us to get stronger, faster, and smarter enabling our members to get the mission done no matter how demanding the operational environment may be,” said Chapman.