49th SFS Airman assists local police during bomb threat

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Paczkowski
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
On January 7th, around 11 in the morning, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elyse Mora, 49th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, was at her house watching a movie when she got a call from one of her supervisors. 
She was confused as it was after her shift, but she thought her supervisor was going to tell her to clean up a mess her dog made. When she picked up the phone, her supervisor hurriedly told her to get ready and get her uniform on, gather her gear on base and then head into Alamogordo for a potential bomb threat. 
Since Alamogordo Police Department doesn’t employ any explosive detecting dogs, they partner with the 49th SFS to respond to emergency scenarios like this. In this case, it was Mora’s turn to assist. 
“The worry hadn’t set in yet during the drive to base and all I remember is getting to the gate and getting let through quickly,” she said. 
When she arrived at the kennels, anxiety and nervousness set in because, although she had undergone training, she hadn’t yet faced an emergency of this severity. 
“During that whole time I kept thinking to myself, ‘Is there going to be an actual bomb there? What is the probability of that? What is going on?’” she said. “After that, I quickly grabbed all my equipment and went to go get my dog.”
Mora’s dog is named Ilay, a five-year-old, 97-pound German Shepard who is one of six MWDs at Holloman. 
After getting Ilay, Mora swiftly made her way to the site and was greeted by detectives and investigators. She was told by those on the scene that they received an anonymous tip earlier about an explosive in the living room of a residence in Alamogordo. 
After a thorough sweep around the exterior of the house, Mora and Ilay headed inside to begin the search.
She entered the living room and to her left was a messy office that led to a small room, but it was what was on a desk in the office that alerted Ilay. As they peaked around the corner they saw the tip of a pipe bomb laying on the desk.
Mora’s supervisor was trailing behind them during the sweep with a flashlight and shined a light on the desk to confirm that it was indeed a pipe bomb. They marked the location of it and went around the house looking for any other potential hazards. 
“The deeper we went into the house, the more dangerous it got,” she said. “There were a couple of rooms that we couldn’t even go into due to the amount of garbage blocking the entrances.”
After an exhausting hour of clearing the house, Mora had a surreal feeling as she explained what she found to the APD officers and detectives. After talking to the officers on scene, they had to wait for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to arrive so they could hand over the information to them. 
Once the whole ordeal was over, her supervisors that went to the scene with her, were proud of how she handled the situation.
“I remember one of my supervisors at the scene even came running from their car at the end of the street screaming with excitement, ‘That’s my team!’” she said.  “At that moment I was filled with pride, but it was more for my dog than myself. I knew he had the potential to do this because we practice every day, but in a real-life scenario, it’s so different but I’m glad he proved that he is capable.”
After the experience, she received so much overwhelming support from supervisors and coworkers, who came up to her and congratulated both her and Ilay on their accomplishment.
“It inspires me that Airmen from around my squadron now want to work with canines, especially after this event,” she said. “I know a lot of the Airmen could learn a lot about what we do if we held demos for them and showed them what we do.”
Mora also said she couldn’t have done what she did that day without the guidance and training from her leadership. 
“Senior Airman Mora and Ilay were a great team as they showed no hesitation when confronted by a dangerous callout and performed admirably,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Glenn Bowersox, 49th SFS commander. “We are incredibly proud of how they represented themselves, our squadron, and Team Holloman.”