The Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations chapel staff organized a group resiliency trip to Washington, D.C., March 22, 2012. The chapel team planned the event to coincide with the blooming of the district's thousands of cherry trees. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Myco Apat)
Senior Airman Jared Morley, who's deployed to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations dress and wrap section, has some photography fun March 22, 2012, during a chaplain-sponsored resiliency trip to Washington, D.C. Morley is deployed to AFMAO from the 60th Force Support Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sirintra Fisher)
Senior Airmen Anahi Escobar (left), and Robin Reardon, who are deployed to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations personal effects section, receive a shower of cherry tree blossom petals March 22, 2012, during a chaplain-sponsored resiliency trip to Washington, D.C. Escobar is deployed from the 60th Force Support Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and Reardon is deployed from the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron, Dover AFB, Del. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sirintra Fisher )
by Master Sgt. Veronica Aceveda
AFMAO Public Affairs
3/28/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Eighteen people participated in the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations chapel team's resiliency trip to Washington, D.C. March 22, 2012.
The trek across the Chesapeake Bay encompassed all of the pillars of resiliency: social, physical, mental and spiritual.
"It was a great way to meet and interact with other members outside of the work area," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Mawson, who is deployed to the mortuary's departures section from the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron. "And, it was a great way to make new friends."
Capt. Kurt Schmitt, an AFMAO commanders action group member, agreed, getting out of the office was a good opportunity.
"This trip prompted a lot of laughter and bonding, especially after the big manpower changeover we just went through," he said. "We needed to have an ice-breaker for everyone to interact."
The outing was timed just right for the AFMAO team to see the 100th anniversary of the district's cherry trees in full bloom.
The Tidal Basin and National Mall areas are filled with 3,000 cherry blossom trees, which were a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki, of Tokyo, to Washington, D.C., in 1912, according to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website. The gift honors the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan.
"The parts I enjoyed the most were the great weather and great scenery," said Senior Airman Robin Reardon, another 512th MAS member who is deployed to AFMAO's personal effects section. "(DC) was beautiful, and all of the walking definitely kept you in shape. I thought it was a great idea by the chapel staff to organize. They were super great."
This was the third resiliency trip the AFMAO chapel team has coordinated this year. Previously, they've accompanied groups to the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. The next resiliency trip in the works is a trip to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Enio Agüero, an Air National Guard chaplain deployed to AFMAO, expressed the importance of participating in resiliency events.
"It reduces stress and allows time for socializing with those who have similar experiences," he said. "And, it often provides an opportunity to engage in some self reflection."
While the trip to see the cherry blossoms was only a one-day outing, it showed D.C. was not that far away, said Schmitt.
"You could easily go on a day off with a small group and have a full day of things to see and do," he added.