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New SecAF committed to Airmen, mortuary mission

  • Published
  • By Christin Michaud
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Office Public Affairs
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James came to Dover Air Force Base Jan. 10, for the second time since becoming the 23rd secretary of the Air Force.

James' first visit was under different circumstances, she said.

"The first one was rather sobering and sad, but it was an honor to be part of it," James said.

Just 10 days after being sworn in, James attended the dignified transfer of an Airman killed in Afghanistan. His remains first arrived in the U.S. at Dover AFB.

James saw more of the sacred mission and met with the men and women who support it during her second visit. She received an orientation of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs facility and Campus for Families of the Fallen.

The secretary has taken three trips to the field, two of which have been to Dover AFB.

"That should tell you how important this mission is," said James to an All Call audience here, referring to the port mortuary as the heart of Dover AFB's mission.

The managers on duty at the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen were among the first to receive the secretary's coin for their work and support for the families.

"The effort she is putting forth to understand what we do shows that our mission is inevitably a priority," said Tech. Sgt. Cheryl Uylaki, the Fisher House NCO in charge. "She expressed sincere interest in ensuring the exceptional Airmen we have today, supporting our families, are receiving the right training."

Uylaki said she was touched that the secretary showed concern not only for the families, but for the well-being of the Airmen who care for those families long after they leave AFMAO.

"People are the core of our mission," James said when she returned two days later with Gen. Mark A. Welsh, the Chief of Staff and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody to honor the Airmen killed in England.

In her three weeks as the secretary, it was her third trip to Dover.