Mortuary Affairs Specialist - Dignity, Reverence, Respect
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm
July 21, 2019
In the United States Army, there is a career field known as a mortuary affairs specialist, or a 92M.
Soldiers in this career field perform duties related to deceased personnel. This includes searching for fallen and missing service members, helping to disinter remains and assist in the preparation and preservation of remains.
U.S. Army Cpl. Daveson Tamanyon and Spc. Kellysha Fahn, both 54th Quartermaster Company mortuary affairs specialists, are two of the 92Ms on temporary duty to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.
“Our primary mission is to bring the fallen home,” said Tamanyon. “We also assist in missions like personnel recovery with Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency as well as morgue rotations at our home state at Fort Lee, Virginia.”
April 4, 2019 - U.S. Army Cpl. Daveson Tamanyon, 54th Quartermaster Company mortuary affairs specialist, lays out a U.S. Army uniform during a training exercise at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Soldiers in this career field perform duties related to deceased personnel, including searching for fallen and missing service members, helping to disinter remains and assist in the preparation and preservation of remains. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Libtobra Brooks, AFMES senior mortuary affairs NCO of the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, said having the TDY 92Ms is a huge asset.
“The AFMES organization benefits because it can utilize the people who are willing to do what most cannot,” said Brooks. “Their presence has allowed this mission to run smoothly in a time when we have limited personnel.”
Tamanyon added how the job is not for every person.
“Not everyone can handle the things we deal with, but our job is just as important as every other job in the military,” said Tamanyon. “We take pride in what we do.”
Both Tamanyon and Fahn have different reasons for choosing this challenging military occupation.
For Fahn, she sought a job that didn’t confine her to a desk while testing her abilities.
April 2, 2019 - U.S. Army Spc. Kellysha Fahn, 54th Quartermaster Company mortuary affairs specialist, prepares information for an upcoming mission at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Fahn originally chose the mortuary affairs specialist, or 92M, military occupation because it doesn't confine her to a desk while testing her abilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)
“This job has humbled me,” said Fahn. “It made me realize that we must seize every moment we have before it’s our time to go. I feel a sense of pride just being a part of the process. Men and women took the oath to protect our country and the least we could do to honor them is make sure they are treated with dignity and respect before returning them to their loved ones.”
Tamanyon originally wanted to be in the infantry, following in his uncle’s footsteps as a Sapper, a combat engineer. Following his interest, he chose the 92M MOS.
The job isn’t without difficulties, to include depression.
“Depression amongst soldiers is a serious issue,” said Fahn. “We must take the time to check on our fellow battle buddies.”
Despite the rigorous standards, the job is a rewarding one.
“Even though we as an MOS live in the shadows, we walk tall because the contribution we give is its own reward.” said Brooks. “We ensure that someone’s loved one is taken care of.”
Without mortuary affairs specialists, families would not get the closure they deserve, said Fahn.
“Most people do not think about the bad until it happens, but the 92Ms are prepared for this,” said Brooks. “As a 92M, you touch more lives than you can imagine. It’s about being a part of something greater then yourself.”
Honoring The Fallen | Don't Weep For Me | Remember The Fallen | Tears For Your Fallen
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