MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
Rendering a final salute to a fallen service member and handing a folded flag to their next of kin is not something that’s easy to do or taken lightly. That’s why service in the Honor Guard is reserved for those who want to exemplify Air Force tradition, honor and core values.
The 341st Missile Wing Base Honor Guard performs ceremonial functions during funerals, retirement ceremonies, changes of command and other base and community events. They perform pall bearing, flag folding, bugling, three-volley rifle fire, presenting or posting the colors, POW/MIA ceremonies and more.
“In the Base Honor Guard, we honor the memory of the fallen by carrying them to their final resting place, folding their flag perfectly while we uphold the highest standards remaining sharp, crisp and motionless as we pay our respects,” said Tech. Sgt. William Strauss 341st MW Base Honor Guard NCO in charge.
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard originated in 1948 when Headquarters Command, U.S. Air Force, directed the creation of an elite ceremonial unit. Now, in addition to the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, each installation has their own Base Honor Guard team. At Malmstrom, Airmen on the team are volunteers who commit to one-year rotations with four months active service and eight months on standby.
“The Base Honor Guard is a small team of very dynamic and dedicated Airmen who support more than 125 funeral homes across a 157,000 square mile area in Montana and part of Wyoming, which is the Air Force’s third-largest area of responsibility,” said Airman 1st Class Loglo Kouava, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron electrical power production apprentice and current honor guardsman.
Senior Airman Cho Yang, 841st Missile Security Forces Squadron defender and current honor guardsman, said that while Base Honor Guard’s mission doesn’t necessarily support developing and providing combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence, honor guard creates leaders.
“When we go back to our real jobs, our leadership skills will also transfer,” Yang said “When you join honor guard, how you carry yourself will change.”
Airmen completing an honor guard rotation spend the majority of their time training and immersing themselves in military bearing, attention to detail, teamwork and understanding why their job is important.
“We do it to honor the memory of those that fought and served before us and to let their family and friends know that they will not be forgotten,” Strauss said. “They carried our country on their backs while serving, going to battle, fighting for our freedom and now it’s our turn.”
To request 341st MW Base Honor Guard services call 406-731-2831 or email 341MW.Malmstrom.HonorGuard@us.af.mil.