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AFMAO warehouse ready at a moment's notice

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin N. Valmoja
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs

Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations serves as the sole DoD port mortuary in the United States. With such a demanding mission, maintaining the appropriate amount of resources to stay mission ready is no easy task.

AFMAO’s six-person Resources Division is responsible for managing that task, and a team of two sits at the helm of more than $1 million worth in everything from disinfectant wipes to uniform accoutrements.

“People walk past the warehouse and think, ‘Oh it’s just a regular old warehouse,’” said Joy Clifford, a resource advisor at AFMAO. “But they don’t know everything that goes on behind the scenes.”

A look behind those scenes would reveal the level of detail and amount of care poured into the warehouse mission. All items are meticulously accounted for and tracked, and even stored in such a way that personal protective equipment is sorted in the order in which it is donned.

“I hope when people look around the warehouse they can see how well it’s organized and kept, and they can tell I care,” said Jim Quinn, AFMAO’s warehouse manager.

The mission at AFMAO can be unpredictable. Clifford said in order to be ready in a moment’s notice, they are constantly balancing resources for two completely different kinds of operational tempos.

“It’s a balancing act,” Clifford said. “We need to maintain resources for a steady-state tempo, but also have the surge capacity to handle a sudden increase in workload.”

This balancing act requires a substantial amount of analysis, so the team employs the Mortuary Operations Management System, a tracking system that aggregates information. From yearly equipment use trends to the precise location in the warehouse, the team can sift through and pinpoint information, aiding in forecasting.

“Analysis is key because trial and error isn’t an option,” Clifford said.

Between the two, Clifford and Quinn share nearly 50 years of combined experience in their respective fields. They both retired from the military at Dover Air Force Base and felt a calling to AFMAO’s sacred mission and are fulfilled to be a part of it.

“The most important thing is that we bring the fallen home,” Quinn said. “I do my job so I can make sure the rest of their team can do their job. Our mission has never been held up because we didn’t have what we need.”