Custom build: MXS supports DT mission

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The 436th and 512th Maintenance Squadrons’ Aircraft Metals Technology Shop has worked hand-in-hand with Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations to ensure the success of the dignified transfer mission by designing and fabricating a custom frame for AFMAO’s new transfer vehicles.

“The transfer vehicles are key to our operation, and essential to the success of our mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Hitchens, AFMAO port mortuary and operations superintendent. “We really appreciate the support of the Aircraft Metals Technology Shop and its Airmen. They gave us their all; it can be clearly seen in the quality of their craftsmanship and professionalism.”

It is the Department of Defense's policy, and AFMAO's mission, to return America's fallen to their loved ones as quickly as possible. Once the aircraft lands at Dover AFB, service-specific carry teams remove the transfer cases from the aircraft and move them to a waiting mortuary transport vehicle.

“Our primary role is to fabricate components for the C-5[M Super Galaxy] and C-17[A Globemaster III] airframes,” said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Radziewicz, 436th MXS Aircraft Metals Technology NCO in charge. “Secondly to that, we support, repair and sometimes fabricate components for other equipment across base.”

When the Aircraft Metals Technology Shop was tasked by AFMAO to help with the new mortuary transport vehicle, it took priority.

“Basically, we knew we needed to do some fabrication work on the transport vehicle to meet our needs,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeff Bellon, AFMAO dress and restorations NCO in charge. “The metals shop said they could support, so great minds got together to figure things out.”

The new transport vehicles are Ford Transit 350HD vans. A frame was needed in order to fit three transfer cases inside.

“We needed to make sure we could put cases in [the vehicle] … without them catching on anything, especially the American flag that is draped over each case” said Bellon.

The metals shop personnel have completed two vehicles, and in the next few months, they hope to have the remaining two complete.