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Base honor guard: Ceremonial guardsmen leading the way

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Gary Wayland
  • 90th Missile Wing honor guard NCO-in-charge
It's a Friday afternoon and seven ceremonial guardsmen wait. Standing motionless, individuals arriving hardly take notice of their presence. From the background a uniformed individual catches the eye of all in attendance. As the individual moves closer, the guardsman, blinded by the sun calls the detail to attention. With crisp, synchronized movements, the team moves to honor the person of the hour. Slowly they receive the servicemember from the hearse, carrying them to their final resting place. Each guardsman remembering the part of the Airman's Creed stating "never leave an Airman behind." All the while, the attendees take in this final march of their beloved one and dearest friend.

The snap of the American Flag being dressed for presentation pulls everyone's attention to the reason that individual is entitled to this final goodbye. Taking on the form of a cocked hat, the folded flag is dressed and awaits delivery to a tearful family member. Honor, duty, country are just a few words that echo in the minds of the individuals' taking on this sight. At this moment, guardsmen with rifles in hand initiate the first of three volleys to honor the member's dedicated service to this country. As the smoke clears, a familiar sound fills the air, a tune most everyone recognizes, but only military service members truly understand -- Taps.

Slowly, the guardsman approaches the family member with flag in hand, presents it to the member and leans forward. A conversation meant for one person, the surrounding attendees strain to hear the words, "On behalf of the president of the United States, the Department of the United States Air Force and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of your family member." As the honor guard drifts slowly away from the ceremony, all eyes are on them and all minds will hold this memory dear of that significant day.

Ceremonial guardsmen do not wear name tags on their ceremonial uniforms due to the fact they are representing the Air Force and not themselves. The F. E. Warren honor guard is an all volunteer force that fulfills the duties of honoring all those that have served. This program is an opportunity to render one last honor to veterans, retirees and active duty members. As a ceremonial guardsman, our primary duty is to represent the brave faces of individuals whom served and took an oath to defend our beliefs and ideals as a nation. Paying these last respects emphasizes to family and friends that this individual's contribution to our country will never be forgotten.

Taking part in the honor guard exemplifies two of our Air Force Core Values -- Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. Your contribution to the Honor Guard will never be forgotten; this is an opportunity to perform a tradition remembered for a lifetime.

Our team is looking for highly motivated individuals in the ranks of airman basic through technical sergeant and second lieutenant through captain. In you would like more information on the Base Honor Guard or interested in joining please contact the Staff Sgt. Gary Wayland, 90th Missile Wing honor guard NCO-in-charge, at 773-2686.