DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. –
Compared to the 6,825 miles between Dover Air Force Base and Al-Udied Air Base, the quarter mile to get from the 512th Mortuary Affairs Squadron and the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen doesn’t seem like it would be considered a deployment.
However, three Airmen at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations are serving in a deployed status, just as they would be overseas – but they only have to travel down the street. They join their teammates at AFMAO’s main building, which shares a parking lot with the MAS.
“Sometimes that’s a disadvantage because it doesn’t feel mentally like a typical deployment,” said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Robinson, Fisher House manager on duty. “It’s hard to get in that mindset, but otherwise I couldn’t have asked for a better deployment.”
Working in the Fisher House was his first choice when he learned he would serve for six months at AFMAO.
“I like to care for people and this seemed like a good fit,” Robinson said.
Master Sgt. Ernest Davis, Fisher House manager on duty, has deployed several times to AFMAO since he joined the MAS in 2002, but this is his first time working with families of the fallen.
“It’s been a great mission. It’s [both] a learning experience and a very unique experience,” said Davis. “It’s opened my eyes to the family aspect of things. I’ve always worked on the other side of [the mission].”
Senior Airman Franck Yonkeu, Fisher House manager on duty, understands that while a deployment to AFMAO is not typical in the Air Force, serving in the Fisher House provides a unique way to honor the fallen and care for their families.
“You still serve the fallen, and you have that same honor, just in a different place,” Yonkeu said. Yonkeu credits his time briefing visitors about the Fisher House during AFMAO orientations with improving his public speaking skills.
While the Fisher House is in a separate complex from AFMAO, all deployers have a strong bond regardless of their deployed unit.
“This is the best six months to be on active duty orders,” said Robinson. ”We get to spend the holidays together and there are always opportunities for us to get out and spend time together.”
For the Airmen who have traveled down the street for their time at AFMAO, the short time into their deployment they have spent here has already made a positive difference in their careers.
“If I had to choose where to go again, I would choose the Fisher House,” said Yonkeu. “It’s the best place to be.”