Master Sgt. Omar Hall: A reflection on multiple deployments to AFMAO

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Alvarado
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

Being assigned for one deployment cycle to Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations holds an immense honor and sense of fulfillment for deployed members who contribute to the sacred mission. Master Sgt. Omar Hall, noncommissioned officer in charge of Uniforms, has returned to AFMAO 7 times in total over the last 13 years. During his most recent deployment, Hall is tasked with assembling uniforms, urns, required items or specifically requested clothing before a service member is laid to rest.

“My job is to prepare uniforms for the members that come through here,” said Master Sgt. Omar Hall, noncommissioned officer in charge of Uniforms. “I build the uniform, assemble the ribbons, and also engrave name tags.”

Though only one person is needed to manage the Uniforms section, Hall personally enjoys the independence of his job. He explains how he revels in the feeling of accomplishment that comes with successfully finishing each mission.

“I love it,” Hall said. “Yes, it’s isolated, but at the same time, when something needs to be done, it’s you. It’s all you. I love it.”

Hall also appreciates the impact his work has on survivors of the fallen. His attention to detail remains unchanged through every mission, to ensure he honors every member as if they were his own kin.

“It shows the family that their loved one didn’t sacrifice for nothing,” Hall said. “This is a family and we do care about each and every person who comes through here.”

The official end of the Global War on Terrorism in 2021 translated to a sharp decrease of human remains directed to AFMAO. As a former member of the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Hall recalls a time before the drawdown of troops deployed overseas when this was not the case.

“In the early years, when anything happened, we were the first unit they called before it opened up to the rest of the Air Force,” Hall said. “There was constant fighting going on, with many casualties. 10 to 15 a day was normal.”

Before coming to AFMAO, Hall says he had never processed death the way he experienced it on deployment. His past tours taught him to reach out to any available resources such as coworkers, family, and squadron resilience events for support.

“You have to get it off your mind,” Hall said. “Because if you don’t, it’s going to affect you. Even if you don’t know it, it’s going to affect you.”

Originally from Jamaica, Hall made the United States his permanent home after meeting his wife in 2002. He says his time in the States helps him maintain a more optimistic mindset and take advantage of opportunities for success.

“Now, I approach everything with an open mind,” Hall said. “And it’s always that the glass is half-full. The glass is always half-full.”

His positivity is something he tries to instill in the Airmen around him. Hall draws a connection between prosperity and opportunities to succeed in his career.

“An open mind equals open doors,” Hall said. “Grab the opportunity and take it.”