DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Delaware –
Members of the religious support team at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations helped train 11 chaplains serving with the Navy, Marine and Air Force during dignified transfer ground training at Dover Air Force Base Dec. 13, 2021.
Ground training is held monthly with a focus on internal processes and support for carry teams, but in this session, the family support team focused on preparing chaplains from multiple branches of service.
The goal of the training is to prepare chaplain corps personnel and grief counselors from each service, so they can effectively provide care for families of the fallen at every location they serve whether deployed, at AFMAO, or their home station, said Chaplain (Maj.) Matthew Knight, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations senior military chaplain.
"Every chaplain is a caregiver,” said Knight. “We want to share the skills we have practiced here at AFMAO with others to make them better caregivers, wherever they may serve."
The training prepares chaplains who may experience working with families of a fallen service member at some point in their career.
"Every chaplain has experience with some part of a fallen’s journey whether it is in the [Area Of Responsibility] overseas, or at the graveside back home,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Daniel Fairchild, a chaplain deployed to AFMAO from the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Fairchild is learning alongside the chaplains for his role as part of AFMAO’s family support team.
Fairchild was appreciate of the opportunity for the training targeted for chaplains.
“There is only one AFMAO mission,” said Fairchild. “It is great to be able to share our honorable mission with them so they can take their experience with them wherever they may go next."
Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Andrew Wyns, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, one of the trainees agreed the training was valuable. He had attended two dignified transfers previously out of mission necessity.
“The tours, information, and practice that were given to us during this training would have made a world of difference in my preparedness on those previous occasions,” said Wyns. “There is no slide show that can substitute for having your feet on the flight line and watching transfer cases being ceremoniously walked down the ramp.
This is the second training with an emphasis on caregivers. The chaplain and his team also facilitated training for 21 Air Force and Navy Chaplain Corps personnel in November.