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Volunteer for Honor
Senior Airman Joshua Fernandez closes the door of the transfer vehicle during a dignified transfer Nov. 13, 2011, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Fernandez has served in a variety of positions inside the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs during his deployments in support of the sacred mission. Fernandez is assigned to the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron at Dover AFB. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Adrian Rowan)
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Reservist volunteers repeatedly for honorable duty

Posted 10/18/2012   Updated 10/18/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Caitlin Jones
Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs

10/18/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Senior Airman Joshua Fernandez is a pretty familiar face around the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs. He's a reservist assigned to the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron here and has deployed three times in the last three years to work at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations.

"I've done a lot of different things," said Fernandez. "As time went on, I've seen and learned a lot more. I've grown to love a lot more about the operation."

Fernandez mainly works in the dress and restoration section of AFMAO, but he's also responsible for assisting during some dignified transfers as a member of the AFMAO carry team or closing the doors of the transfer vehicle at the end of the dignified transfer.

But, despite being on his third deployment to AFMAO, Fernandez says he still feels nervous before a dignified transfer.

"Every single time [I'm nervous before a DT]," said Fernandez. "I always expect the unexpected. And in a sense, it has to be very respectful, not just myself, but everyone else has the same mentality that we're giving our utmost respect for our brother or sister coming home."

And that sense of duty and respect is visible to many people within the mortuary, including Chief Master Sgt. Sean Applegate, Chief Enlisted Manager for AFMAO,

"With Airmen like Senior Airman Fernandez, we know the job will get done," said Applegate. "We know that any task we give him, it will be completed. So we enjoy having professionals like him in this organization. "

And it's that sense of professionalism and responsibility that keeps Fernandez volunteering for deployments at AFMAO.

"I mean, I am a constant offender, I can't help myself," he said. "The honor here, the professionalism here, the sense of absolute gratification of accomplishing this mission -- it's something that you feel. It's very sensitive in nature, but it's also very honorable. It's just something that I absolutely love."

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