Matthew Missel

Whether delivering critical food supplies to refugees in Darfur, helping with evacuation efforts following Hurricane Ike or helping British troops transition out of Basra, the son of a Houston couple and his unit are quickly becoming the 9-1-1 first responders for disasters and emergencies around the world.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Missel, son of Eugene and Martha Missel, put those rapid response skills to the test during an 11-day joint exercise called Hydra. The exercise brought in units from the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps to practice setting up rudimentary bases and airfields, airdropping people and supplies, providing mid-air refueling services and evacuating those injured in a simulated natural disaster.

Missel is a maintenance section supervisor with the 572nd Global Mobility Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

“I coordinate with the aircraft on where to park when they come in and I supervise ground maintenance,” said the 1989 graduate of St. John Vianney High School in Kirkwood. “That includes coordinating night vision operations for loading, unloading, inspecting and servicing aircraft while the engine is running.”

The scenario for Hydra ’09 was a 6.0 earthquake in a fictional allied country. The devastation from the quake extended up to 100 miles out from the epicenter. This scenario allowed the exercise to spread over three locations to provide a maximum of training opportunities. A part of the exercise, called Global Medic, focused on treating and moving the victims of the earthquake.

“This exercise mirrored many of my real world requirements,” said Missel. “Everything I did here will also be accomplished at any forward operating location I go to.”

The exercise, only in its third year, had more than 750 participants from 16 different units, some from the Army and Marine Corps, all worked together to overcome the difficulties related to responding to crisis scenarios. One of the key elements was to bring together the vast array of units and job specialties needed to respond to a major crisis.

“In the contingency response mission, people who do my job provide the initial processes to accomplish the mission,” said Missel, who has been in the Air Force for 10 years and has deployed several times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. “This is very different from just picking up an ongoing mission.”

Being part of the forces required to respond at a moment’s notice to events around the world often results in last-minute deployments to places with very few of life’s luxuries can be hard, but Missel knows that these hardships pay off in the end by saving lives when disaster strikes.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply