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Airman Pursues Passion In Honor Guard
by U.S. Air Force Airman Azaria Foster
October 23, 2019

He learned early in his career that he had a passion for instilling confidence and discipline into Airmen.

Now, Tech. Sgt. Jamaal Smalls feels privileged to be the NCO in charge (NCOIC) of Moody’s Honor Guard to pass those values into Airmen he leads.

Tech. Sgt. Jamaal Smalls, right, NCO in charge (NCOIC) of Honor Guard, critiques six-person flag-fold training, July 25, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Prior to being a part of Moody’s Honor Guard, Smalls was a master military training instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria Foster)
Tech. Sgt. Jamaal Smalls, right, NCO in charge (NCOIC) of Honor Guard, critiques six-person flag-fold training, July 25, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Prior to being a part of Moody’s Honor Guard, Smalls was a master military training instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria Foster)

“This is what I love to do,” said Smalls. "I love drill, providing military honors to families who’ve lost members and talking with the community. Initially when I was asked if I wanted to be the program manager of the Honor Guard, I was a little hesitant, but then I realized it’s what I’m good at doing.”

Smalls, a prior master military training instructor (MTI), remembers having some hard first lessons in leadership and team building while trying to earn the title of a Blue Rope MTI.

“I had to take a flight I had never worked with through every drill they had learned while at basic training,” said Smalls. “During the commands left face and right face, some people weren’t responding.”

A blue rope is expected to have the best of the best flights. With that in mind, he could feel himself becoming irritated, but he knew better than to let it show.

“After a while, they started to tune into my command voice and respond accordingly,” he said while smiling. “I was just glad that they caught on before I gave forward march.”

Smalls said this event helped him learn to never give up on his people.

“If I had given up on them during individual drill movement, the rest of the control test would have been a disaster, but I didn’t give up on them and they didn’t give up on me,” he said. “We worked together as a team to complete the drill card.”

Smalls said he uses that lesson almost every day here, whether he is trying to share that knowledge with an upcoming supervisor or keep it in the back of his mind while on the Honor Guard training floor.

Tech. Sgt. Jesse Larson, left, NCO in charge (NCOIC) of Honor Guard, hands the flag to Tech. Sgt. Jamaal Smalls, NCOIC of Honor Guard, during six-person flag-fold training, July 25, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria Foster)
Tech. Sgt. Jesse Larson, left, NCO in charge (NCOIC) of Honor Guard, hands the flag to Tech. Sgt. Jamaal Smalls, NCOIC of Honor Guard, during six-person flag-fold training, July 25, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria Foster)

“Every now and then when I have a new Honor Guard class, I see my MTI demeanor come out and I have to take a step back,” said Smalls. “If someone isn’t understanding the sequence that we’re doing, I’ll pull them aside and work with them one on one until they grasp what they have to do.

“However, there are times I want to pull my hair out,” said Smalls while grabbing fistfuls of nonexistent hair from his head. “But I definitely never give up on them. I never leave them behind.”

Throughout Smalls’ tour as a Blue Rope MTI he developed his professionalism and attention to detail, which has an impact on the Airmen he has worked with while at Moody.

“There are two people I always say I look up to and he is my number one because right when he got to Moody I could tell he was extremely professional and I wanted to be like that,” said Senior Airman Lacey Dixon, the NCOIC of the 23d Security Forces Squadron and a prior troop of Smalls’. “He’s always on point with dress and appearance, as well as his customs and courtesies.

“Sometimes he would look at our uniforms because that’s what he was used to doing as an MTI,” continued Dixon. “We caught him looking for loose strings and we were like, ‘Dang, watch out. MTI Smalls is coming out.’ But he always did it to better people. His number one thing is helping people out and growing them as Airmen, which is especially important in Honor Guard.”

Although Smalls no longer wears his campaign hat, he is still leading Airmen.

“I’m still mentoring and advising people that want to advance in their career,” said Smalls. “I’m still doing drill. I’m still doing what I love to do, which is leading people, leading Airmen.”

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