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31st FSS conducts search and recovery training

Airmen from the 31st Force Support Squadron conduct annual search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. Maintaining currency through training events such as search and recovery and home-station readiness training enables Airmen to stay mission ready in order to execute any real-world agile combat employment, dynamic force employment, and search and recovery operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

Airmen from the 31st Force Support Squadron conduct annual search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. Maintaining currency through training events such as search and recovery and home-station readiness training enables Airmen to stay mission ready in order to execute any real-world agile combat employment, dynamic force employment, and search and recovery operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Johnson, 31st Force Support Squadron dining facility assistant manager, labels a card during search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. The 31st FSS conducted annual search and recovery training to certify 23 newly-appointed search and recovery members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Johnson, 31st Force Support Squadron dining facility assistant manager, labels a card during search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. The 31st FSS conducted annual search and recovery training to certify 23 newly-appointed search and recovery members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Johnson, 31st Force Support Squadron dining facility assistant manager, identifies remains during search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. Maintaining currency through training events such as search and recovery and home-station readiness training enables Airmen to stay mission ready in order to execute any real-world agile combat employment, dynamic force employment, and search and recovery operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Johnson, 31st Force Support Squadron dining facility assistant manager, identifies remains during search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. Maintaining currency through training events such as search and recovery and home-station readiness training enables Airmen to stay mission ready in order to execute any real-world agile combat employment, dynamic force employment, and search and recovery operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brad Coddington, 31st Force Support Squadron food service superintendent, briefs during search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. Search and recovery teams are 11-member teams ready to respond to any aircraft mishap at a moment’s notice, and require hands-on training annually, in addition to just-in-time training prior to any search and recovery operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brad Coddington, 31st Force Support Squadron food service superintendent, briefs during search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. Search and recovery teams are 11-member teams ready to respond to any aircraft mishap at a moment’s notice, and require hands-on training annually, in addition to just-in-time training prior to any search and recovery operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

Airman 1st Class Ashlee Burriss, 31st Force Support Squadron fitness specialist, raises her hand to identify remains during search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. The 31st FSS conducted annual search and recovery training to certify 23 newly-appointed search and recovery members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

Airman 1st Class Ashlee Burriss, 31st Force Support Squadron fitness specialist, raises her hand to identify remains during search and recovery training at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 15, 2020. The 31st FSS conducted annual search and recovery training to certify 23 newly-appointed search and recovery members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

Airmen from the 31st Force Support Squadron conducted annual search and recovery training Oct. 15, 2020, to certify 23 newly-appointed search and recovery members.

Search and recovery teams are 11-member teams ready to respond to any aircraft mishap at a moment’s notice, and require hands-on training annually, in addition to just-in-time training prior to any search and recovery operation.

Master Sgt. Brad Coddington, 31st FSS food service superintendent, has real-world search and recovery experience, and recalls the recovery of C-124 Globemaster II remains during Operation Colony Glacier.

“I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done this, both in training and real-world scenarios,” he said. “In Alaska, we had to go on a glacier to recover remains from an aircraft crash in the 1950s to repatriate those individual’s remains to their families.”

Coddington emphasized the importance of the search and recovery teams, as well as the toll their mission takes.

“There are incidents where remains are sprawled out across a significantly large area,” he said. “You’re never really prepared for seeing someone who’s passed away, especially after an aircraft accident. It’s important to remember to take care of our Airmen, too, and ensure they are capable of performing the mission.”

Along with search and recovery, the 31st FSS maintains currency on several items during quarterly home-station readiness training, such as building and operating within small shelter systems and single pallet expeditionary kitchens.

“This training ensures [members] can execute the requirements to feed and bed-down forces both stationed at Aviano and from around the world during contingency operations,” said Capt. Alexis Shaw, 31st FSS operations officer. “Aviano is in a unique location because it can and has directly supported many conflicts from the air base, which requires more support for the forces who arrive as part of the combat operations.”  

In order to make this training possible, coordination with the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron and other base agencies is critical, Shaw said.

“Search and recovery is a vital and important role,” Coddington said. “Our goal is to ensure any remains are properly processed and moved to their next of kin in the most dignified manner. It takes fortitude and perseverance to ensure this mission is executed properly.”

Maintaining currency through training events such as search and recovery and home-station readiness training enables Airmen of the 31st FSS to stay mission ready in order to execute any real-world agile combat employment, dynamic force employment, and search and recovery operations.