Shaw Weasel receives Honor Guard Centurion Award
By Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 13, 2017
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
In a quiet, solemn room, one Airman dressed in blue, in tandem with a wingman, silently folds a flag. The flag serves as a reminder of the service and sacrifice given by those who passed to those who live on.
“The first time I handed off a flag to the next of kin, the feeling you get — I don’t know how to describe it — it’s very fulfilling,” said Senior Airman Stephen Harvey, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman. “You know you’re the last thing they get to see. You’re their closure for their loved one in the military.”
During his time as a 20th Force Support Squadron honor guardsman, Harvey served as NCO in charge for over 60 funeral honors team details.
Harvey received the Honor Guard Centurion Award on Sept. 1 following his summer assigned to the 20th FSS honor guard. The award is presented to ceremonial guardsmen who, through dedication and commitment, accomplish 100 or more ceremonial details in support of a base honor guard.
During his rotation, Harvey served in more than 107 military funerals, changes of command, promotion and retirement ceremonies, and community performances.
When the 20th AMXS needed a volunteer for the base honor guard, Harvey offered to serve a rotation and later decided to do a continuous six-month rotation so that his unit would not be tasked to find another person.
Not only did he step up when his home unit needed him, Senior Airman Mykara Thornton, 20th FSS honor guardsman, said Harvey was always willing to put service before self and accomplish any details the guard needed done.
“If someone couldn’t go and they called Harvey and told him they couldn’t go, he would do it in a heartbeat,” said Thornton. “There wasn’t any complications about it. He was very flexible and a good person to work with.”
With the average guardsman accomplishing approximately 60 details, Harvey’s willingness to serve contributed to his recognition.
Along with maintaining bearing and being physically fit, Harvey said the core values are very important for honor guardsmen.
“There’s quite a few times where funeral directors will try to compensate you for your service and of course you can’t accept that,” said Harvey, speaking about necessity of guardsmen putting integrity first. “Service before self, of course, you have to be flexible. Excellence in all we do — my very first detail I was extremely nervous, but we have to go in with the mindset for every single detail we give 100 percent and never slack off.”
Harvey said his time in honor guard changed his perspective, giving him an inside look to how other Airmen from around base operate and showing him how every Airman is a representative of the Air Force.
“(Being in honor guard) made me think about the fact that I represent the Air Force,” said Harvey. “It made me think about communication and reopened my eyes to my career and what I want to do in the Air Force.”