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Delaware wing assists in dignified transfer

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Valerie Harwood and Master Sgt. Ben Matwey
  • 166th Airlift Wing
Pouring rain and winds didn't prevent Delaware Air National Guard Airmen from performing their duties to assist in a dignified transfer of U.S. servicemembers at New Castle Air National Guard Base, here, December 23, 2015.

Delaware ANG Airmen received notification that a C-17 aircraft carrying six fallen Airmen and one contractor would arrive later that day. The Airmen were killed December 21, in a vehicle bomb attack outside Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

Many work sections of the 166th Airlift Wing, to include security forces, base operations, command post and civil engineers, jumped into motion to assist Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

For example, Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, civil engineer supervisor, worked in the rain for hours before visitors and aircraft arrived to ensure the base was prepared to honor our fallen Airmen, and support their families and loved ones.

Senior Master Sgt. Chad Snader, security forces, provided transportation to family members of the fallen the day after the dignified transfer.

"Our wing flawlessly executed a very complex and sensitive mission under terrible conditions. In turn, the families of the fallen and some of the most senior Department of Defense officials witnessed some of the best attributes our Delaware ANG could offer our nation's fallen heroes", said Col. Don Bevis, wing commander. "I couldn't be more proud of our [Guard] family."

Four of the fallen Airmen were assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and two Airmen were assigned to the 105th Security Forces Squadron at Stewart ANG Base, New York.

Over 200 unit members from AFOSI, the 105th SFS, Stewart ANG Base, and the New York Police Department traveled to New Castle to pay their respects to their fallen comrades.

Major Gen. Frank Vavala, adjutant general, Delaware National Guard, said, "My heartfelt thanks to all who participated, on short notice, in supporting the dignified transfer here for our fallen colleagues who were killed in the horrific suicide attack in Afghanistan. Your performance speaks volumes about your professionalism and your commitment to honoring our fallen comrades."

Several distinguished visitors came to New Castle to honor the fallen Airmen and give support to their families. Officials and dignitaries paying their respects during the transfer included Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense, Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, and Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau.