Honor guardsmen graduate
By Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 31, 2017
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
Sixteen Airmen temporarily assigned to the 20th Force Support Squadron Honor Guard graduated from a two-week training course at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 30.
The training, which involved learning how to perform funeral details and presenting the colors during official events, prepared the Airmen for the start of their six-month honor guard rotation scheduled for Nov. 1.
During Shaw’s second graduation of its kind, the Airmen posted the colors and performed a six-man funeral detail, including carrying a casket and folding a flag for presentation, in front of their squadrons.
Tech. Sgt. Ashley Long, 20th FSS Honor Guard noncommissioned officer in charge, said she began hosting the graduation ceremonies to highlight the accomplishments of new honor guardsmen in front of Team Shaw because the base only witnesses approximately 10 percent of what honor guard does.
“Although we present the colors for change of commands and awards ceremonies, and fold the flag for retirement ceremonies, our priority is providing military funeral honors for our fallen warriors, retirees and veterans within (Air Combat Command’s) second largest area of responsibility,” said Long. “We cover a total of 35,000 square miles including the states of S.C., North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.”
Having to cover a large area, the honor guardsmen are tasked with 80 to 100 details per month, working as multiple teams.
The new graduates were taught that they must be above standards because of what they represent, said Airman 1st Class Daniel Aguda, 20th FSS Honor Guard member and recent graduate. This means they must maintain a sharp appearance and keep their military bearing at all times, especially during difficult situations such as presenting a flag to a family member.
Honor guardsmen face emotionally challenging situations often, but they strive to perfect their discipline.
“My mother was handed my grandfather’s flag, so I already know the importance and symbolism behind the honor guard and passing the flag to the next of kin,” said Airman 1st Class Reginald Box, 20th FSS Honor Guard head trainer. “(The training’s) not easy by any means, but everyone is willing to go through the work because they know what it represents.”
After completing their training and gaining a new understanding of the responsibilities ahead of them, the graduates are prepared to begin their rotation.
“Each and every one of them deserve the recognition for the hard work and dedication they've put towards the rigorous training,” said Long. “It's an interactive (graduation) ceremony where the audience can see the bulk of what we do every day, rain, sleet, snow, or shine!”