USAF Honor Guard instructors set standard

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dillon White
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
Instructors from the United States Air Force honor guard stationed at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., traveled to F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., to conduct a mobile training class to standardize ceremonies and uniform wear at the base level. 

More than 20 Airmen from five Air Force bases including Hill AFB, Utah; Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; and the United States Air Force Academy, Colo., attended the 80-hour course taught by instructors from the United States Air Force Honor Guard technical school. 

"I enjoyed training with the personnel from all of the bases," said 2nd Lt. Robert Wray, 12th Missile Squadron missile combat crew member and base honor guard member. "It was a unique opportunity to work toward a common goal with other men and women who share the desire to volunteer their time to represent their base through honor guard service."

The three instructors usually train technical school Airmen whose sole job is to perform military honors at Arlington National Cemetery and represent the Air Force in ceremonies and official events involving the President, senior Department of Defense and Air Force leaders, and in Joint Service ceremonies. 

"We are faceless," said Tech. Sgt. Toby Farr, pall-bearer instructor, "Being a ceremonial guardsman is not about you or getting your picture in the newspaper. The only thing that matters is the family who lost their loved one." 

The instructors also reminded the students that practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. 

"The training was challenging as it required the highest level of perfection and attention to detail," Lieutenant Wray said. "There were many new skills that were taught and they had to be mastered almost immediately." 

The skills that were taught were already practiced by the students, but some found a new appreciation for performing parts of a funeral that they had less experience in.

"I use to really enjoy firing party, but after training for pall bearing, I like it better," Senior Airman Kwinton Estacio, 341st Force Support Squadron physical trainer and honor guard member said. "Everyone moves in unison to move a 500 pound casket. If you don't work as a team, you won't go anywhere." 

Following each rotation through the three sections, a mock funeral was performed and each individual was evaluated on their performance. Each student was required to pass all three rotations in each section to graduate from the course. 

"I want to thank my supervisor for letting me attend the course," Airman Estacio said. "I want my supervisor to know that when I am at honor guard, I am training to be the best. People look up to you when you are a ceremonial guardsman, and because of that, your standards must be above reproach like it states in the honor guard charge." 

Lt. Col. Anthony Taylor, United States Air Force Honor Guard commander, presented the graduates with their certificates on graduation day. 

Following graduation, the class performed a mock active-duty funeral for leadership of the United States Air Force honor guard, and F.E. Warren leadership, as well as friends and family of the students, to show their proficiency. 

"I joined the honor guard because I truly believe that we are free today due to the service of those who came before us; I can think of nothing better than to be able to appropriately honor their memory," Lieutenant Wray said.

The base honor guard is looking for more personnel from all ranks to volunteer, Lieutenant Wray said. If you have questions about joining, please contact Tech. Sgt Michelle Rue at 731-2831.