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NEWS | March 7, 2023

Leading from within: AFMAO trainers develop teammates

By Tech. Sgt. Kaitlyn Maricle Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

Members of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations carry team must be prepared at a moment’s notice to provide dignity, honor and respect to the fallen. The physical requirements for the team’s movements are numerous and precise, and perfection is paramount. To ensure this no-fail mission is executed flawlessly, two of AFMAO’s seasoned deployed Airmen serve as dignified transfer trainers.

Staff Sgt. Sean Sirl, AFMAO departures specialist and Staff Sgt. Alyana Vasquez, AFMAO dress and restoration specialist, were appointed as dignified transfer trainers at the start of the year. Sirl is deployed to AFMAO from the 633rd Force Support Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia while Vasquez is deployed from the 4th Force Support Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

“We’re in charge of movements and training new people,” said Vasquez.

The trainers oversee both daily training within AFMAO and monthly ground training with branch of service carry teams.

“We look for teamwork and confidence in their movements,” said Sirl. “Carry teams require at least six people, so if one person is out of step, or there’s a detail missing, it can make all six people look less clean.”

Sirl and Vasquez are also tasked with continuity for future dignified transfer trainers.

“Our training plan lasts two weeks, so that we can touch base on everything we do so we don’t miss anything when we introduce movements to new people,” said Vasquez.

AFMAO’s deployed Airmen who participate in dignified transfers are expected to be fully trained in carry movements within the first two weeks of their arrival.

“The plan goes into extreme detail, from the exact call to which way to turn, to which way to step, so after the first week, everything is broken down so well that new Airmen know what to do,” said Sirl.

Sirl and Vasquez were chosen by previous trainers to assume the program for the remainder of their deployment at AFMAO. The trainers are selected from Airmen who will be in the latter half of their deployment when new Airmen arrive, and who show proficiency in all aspects of a dignified transfer.

“They stood out among their peers as not only exceptional professionals, but also their ability to absorb the material and engage with Airmen who were less familiar,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Gangloff, AFMAO operations section chief. “It was an obvious choice that they lead our dignified transfer training.”

For Sirl and Vasquez, leading dignified transfer training comes down to continuing the AFMAO mission of dignity, honor and respect.

“What everyone sees will be a representation of who we are and how we train,” said Sirl. “I take that pride to make sure everyone knows what to do.”