DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. — A shoulder-fired missile launches from a terrorist’s weapon, resulting in a direct hit. An American military airplane slams into the desert floor. Miles away at an operations center, rescue crews quickly are mobilized, first with machine guns blasting from an attack airplane and followed by Air Force pararescue jumpers floating down to the Earth to extract the downed crew.
Even though this exact scene really didn’t happen, the son of a Fort Stewart couple understands these types of threats and was among 1,400 U.S. military and coalition forces and federal and state officials at the fifth annual Angel Thunder exercise, the largest military combat search-and-rescue exercise in the world.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Arnold D. Moore Jr., son of Arnold D. and Sonya D. Moore of Fort Stewart, is a computer support technician with the 23rd Communications Squadron at Moody Air Force Base. He participated in the exercise in that role.
“My job is to service and maintain all communications through computers and also ground radio equipment,” said Moore, a 2007 graduate of Leesville High School in Leesville, La.
Angel Thunder is a two-week exercise where military rescue personnel from around the world conduct hands-on emergency-response training to help them in dealing with possible catastrophic events. Training scenarios range from mass casualty and downed aircraft drills to humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in both day and night rescue missions. Angel Thunder also included urban-environment scenarios where rescue specialists encountered actors playing enemy forces or residents in realistic foreign villages as part of a rescue scene.
“I get to participate in a very important mission, learn new things and get a chance to meet new people so I can learn how they operate,” Moore said.
Angel Thunder is the only Department of Defense exercise for personnel recovery training and has become the world’s largest. The University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson also was involved and received approximately 40 exercise mock casualties via helicopter or ambulance.
“I can learn how to respond quicker and more (tactically) to my daily operations even under a stressful environment and to strengthen teamwork and communication skills,” Moore said.
The airman first class said he hopes he and his unit never will face a terrorist attack, but if the unimaginable occurs, teams like his will be able to react with a moment’s notice.