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Mortuary affairs performs the final inspection

As a mortuary affairs technician on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., it is their responsibility to maintain the upkeep of the cemetery on base. Staff Sgt. Jeffery White, 90th Mission Support Group mortuary affairs technician, provides various other services while working in mortuary affairs such as, the final service dress inspection of the deceased and coordinating arrangements with the funeral home. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

As a mortuary affairs technician on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., it is their responsibility to maintain the upkeep of the cemetery on base. Staff Sgt. Jeffery White, 90th Mission Support Group mortuary affairs technician, provides various other services while working in mortuary affairs such as, the final service dress inspection of the deceased and coordinating arrangements with the funeral home. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Abbigayle Wagner)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --

My brother in arms, your arrangements need to be made, and you have to be prepared for your final flight home. The mortuary affairs team at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, combs over the uniform with a ruler with precision.

Before the hearse drives away, Staff Sgt. Jeffery White, 90th Mission Support Group mortuary affairs technician, is responsible for preparing the dress blues with the proper accouterments and badges for his friend, a deceased Airman.

“After receiving his uniform, I ensured we had all the components necessary to properly complete it,” said White. “If there are any missing components, we will provide them, and after the uniform is put together, it is given to the funeral home.”

Each ribbon, badge, fold and crease are meticulously labored over several times before flying the Airman home.

“I always try to make each uniform perfect because this is a tough situation for any family to deal with and I don’t want to make it harder because I possibly messed up an Airman’s ribbons,” said White. “When I was making the arrangements for my friend, I felt even more pressure due to my previous connection with him.”

White’s friend was laid to rest after one final inspection at the funeral home to ensure the uniform was precise once on the body.

Being a mortuary affairs technician is a job of selfless acts and it can take an emotional toll. It requires White to be on call year round. However, there is a team made up of chaplains, first sergeants, and mental health professionals in the event a case becomes too difficult. Some of these members and a funeral home liaison are available to the grieving family.

“Mortuary affairs is a service provided by the 90th Force Support Squadron that is likely not given much thought on a daily basis,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Wickerham, 90th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant. “In the moment of crisis, mortuary affairs handles details that allow those affected to have the peace of mind that their loved ones will be put to rest in a proper manner.”

The base does not deal with a lot of mortuary cases within its local response area. On average, there are four cases a year. During the off days, the team maintains the upkeep of the base cemetery and various other additional duties within 90th FSS, such as unit deployment manager.

“As the 90th FSS it is important for Airmen to know that we take care of them from the day they join the Air Force to the day they leave,” said White. “It is our responsibility to process them onto this base, take care of them while they are here, and make their final arrangements at death.”