Chef named Honor Guard Member of the Year

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
An Air Force Global Strike Command senior airman spins a rifle as an orchestra sounds the national anthem with violins and pianos in the background.

She looks over at the next-of-kin as she performs at a funeral.

From funerals to changes of command to weddings, this Airman commutes up to four hours for a detail that sometimes lasts a mere five minutes.

A member of Malmstrom's Honor Guard for three years, Senior Airman Miriam Santiago works as a senior chef with the 10th Missile Squadron; she was recently named the Air Force Honor Guard Member of the Year.

This New York native was first introduced to the mindset and training movements required of an Honor Guard member before joining the Air Force. For four years, she performed drill as the only female with a ROTC program at her high school. By the time she graduated, she was determined to be a member of the Air Force Honor Guard.

"I always used to tell myself that I need to be the best that I can be," Airman Santiago said.

Her attitude has served her well and receiving the prestigious award of Honor Guard Member of the Year, which was a huge surprise to this humble senior airman is proof.

"When I won at the Air Force level, it was more of a surprise," Senior Airman Santiago said. "I'm still shocked about it. I always try to be the best of the best, and take any opportunity, but I never strived for an award."

Not only is she is the youngest and most junior trainer, who's responsibilities include teaching a flight, her extensive list of accomplishments range from performing 45 details in 2010 - eight more than anyone else on Honor Guard - to teaching 150 children proper flag etiquette. This Airman is extremely dedicated.

Tech. Sgt. Thomas Chase, 341st Force Support Squadron, Base Honor Guard NCO in Charge is quick to praise her accomplishments.

"Senior Airman Santiago goes above and beyond her duties with us by surpassing monthly commitments with additional Honor Guard weeks from her off-duty time," Sergeant Chase said. "With the details she has completed and the leadership role she plays, this shows why she earned Air Force Honor Guard Member of the Year."

Airman Santiago always places Honor Guard at the top of her priorities.

"Even if I've made plans I will drop everything to perform a detail for Honor Guard," Airman Santiago said.

After three years with the program, she has become the definition of an outstanding Airman whom many admire.

"Senior Airman Santiago is a true professional and is dedicated to the Honor Guard mission," Sergeant Chase said.