Westover chaplains receive training at AFMAO

  • Published
  • By Jason Minto
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

Chaplains from the 439th Airlift Wing Chaplain Corps at Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts, received thorough training with Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, covering grief support, family care and a newly added simulated dignified transfer component.

“The training conducted with Westover exceeded our highest expectations,” said Capt. William Kilgore, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations staff chaplain.

Departing from the conventional practice of a condensed orientation and training into a single day, AFMAO’s chaplain team opted for a comprehensive, two-day training agenda in collaboration with Westover. This encompassed an orientation, grief care training and an innovative, scaled ground training, orchestrated by the resiliency and operations divisions.

“Orienting them to the mission allowed them to see what their future deployers might experience while here at AFMAO,” said Kilgore. “The simulated ground training phase emerged as a poignant highlight during the sessions. Many of the Westover chaplains vividly conveyed a profound sense of dignity, honor and respect as they engaged in the simulated motions of a dignified transfer.”

This invaluable experience extended a priceless opportunity for every member of the Westover team in attendance to internalize the significance of the care, service and support we extend to the families of our fallen heroes. Simultaneously, it underscored the unwavering commitment that underpins our no-fail mission here at AFMAO.

"The experience gained by being on the ground with the men and women who serve in mortuary affairs was invaluable,” said 1st Lt. Gregory Carrol, Westover Air Reserve Base chaplain.  “We witnessed the simulated dignified transfer of a fallen member and saw first-hand the amazing respect given to the deceased and the flawless execution of their transfer. Additionally, radical hospitality was on full display as we saw how families of the fallen are cared for. Our participation in this training significantly increased the readiness of the Westover Chapel Team.”

This training wasn't just a routine exercise. it was a transformative journey that instilled a profound understanding of shared responsibilities and a renewed dedication to sacred duties.

“Through collaboration, empathy and meticulous planning, we created an environment where learning transcended the classroom and became an immersive experience that will undoubtedly shape our approach in the most impactful ways,” said Kilgore.

That environment is one thing that stood out to Westover chaplain, Capt. Elliott Dix.

“There is a distinct vision embraced by the Dover team to remain professional during times of uncertainty,” said Dix. Their action conveys to the families and everyone they encounter ‘You Matter!’”