DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Delaware --
Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations recognized two outstanding civilians in an award ceremony at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Sept. 21, 2021.
During the ceremony, Joy Clifford, AFMAO resource advisor, was recognized for serving 30 years in federal service and Mable Justice, AFMAO mortuary specialist, was awarded the Exemplary Civilian Service Award Medal.
Clifford was previously enlisted as an air traffic controller in the U.S. Air Force, retrained into finance at her five and a half year mark, then separated after nine years of active-duty military service. She continued to serve as a budget analyst at Dover AFB for 18 years before she was employed with AFMAO in 2018.
“It doesn’t feel like 30 years,” said Clifford. “It’s more of a privilege to work in these positions because we’re not told to do this – it’s more like a volunteer force, working side by side with the military.”
Clifford said she will continue to work for AFMAO for as long as she can.
“I’m not done yet,” Clifford said. “There’s still opportunity and more things to do to forward myself as a whole person.”
Justice, who also served at Dover AFB for years before her civil service, was previously a reservist with the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron. She has been employed with AFMAO since 2009. She received her award for the service she performed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, between October 2014 and August 2021 as a mortuary technician.
“I’m grateful for the award, however, one person cannot do this mission by themselves,” said Justice. “This award doesn’t just belong to me, it belongs to the entire mortuary that worked together to get the fallen home.”
Both Clifford and Justice are dedicated to the AFMAO mission of providing dignity, honor and respect to the fallen while providing care, service and support to their family.
“I do my very best because I put myself in the shoes of the family,” said Justice. “If I was on the receiving end, I would want to see my loved one in the best condition as possible. Whenever I embalm or do cosmetics, I pay attention to detail so that the family can have a good last memory of their loved one.”