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Embracing Guardian Spirit In Base Honor Guard
by U.S. Space Force Airman Collin Wesson
July 12, 2023

The first years of the United States Space Force were defined by those not just unafraid, but eagerly willing to stand up a new branch of service.

The Space Force’s core values of character, connection, commitment, and courage are all integral in defining what it means to be a Guardian and to ensure unhindered access to space for any future conflicts that may arise.

The Guardians at the center of it all are ultimately the people responsible for developing an innovative and distinct culture of space-minded warfighters.

U.S. Space Force 2nd Lt. Andrew Syzdek, 5th Space Launch Squadron Space Force responsible engineer, and U.S. Space Force 2nd Lt. Akira Harris, 645th Cyberspace Squadron cyber crew commander contribute to the development of this culture by being among the first Guardians to serve in the Honor Guard.

June 21, 2023 - U.S. Space Force 2nd Lt. Andrew Syzdek and 2nd Lt. Akira Harris are among the first Guardians to proudly serve in the Honor Guard on Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force photos by Airman Collin Wesson.)
June 21, 2023 - U.S. Space Force 2nd Lt. Andrew Syzdek and 2nd Lt. Akira Harris are among the first Guardians to proudly serve in the Honor Guard on Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force photos by Airman Collin Wesson.)

The base Honor Guard flight is a special duty assignment comprised of Airmen and Guardians who, for six months, render final military honors to fallen veterans.

Additionally, Honor Guardsmen represent the United States Air Force and Space Force to the American public during ceremonial events.

“As officers in the Honor Guard, we oversee the current flight on rotation,” said Harris. “Our main duties are to assign members to funeral details, but we also deconflict schedules, manage manpower, address and find solutions to any issues, ensure the flight is properly trained and equipped to accomplish the mission, and act as the liaison between flight members and administrative personnel.”

“We also perform with the flight during events,” said Syzdek.

Harris’s and Syzdek’s positions enable them to lead in a joint-service environment, hone their leadership skills and serve as ambassadors to members of their sister service.

“I think it is an invaluable opportunity to lead Airmen,” said Syzdek. “My primary job as an SFRE doesn’t often give me the chance to interact with many junior Airmen, so I am grateful that I get to work with people of all ranks and career fields here.”

“Any future joint-service endeavors stand to benefit greatly from the positive connections made during our temporary assignment here,” said Harris.

Harris and Syzdek uphold the elements of the Guardian Spirit not only within the unit but also publicly during funeral details.

They are tasked with being some of the most visible representatives of our Nation’s newest branch of service and rely on these values when performing and interacting with the public.

“Those of us in Honor Guard engage with the local community frequently,” said Harris. “People want to know what we do and what’s happening in the world of the Space Force.”

Syzdek and Harris constantly experience personal and professional development opportunities in their temporary assignment with the Patrick Space Force Base Honor Guard, but the pride and responsibility of the mission and what it means to the families of fallen service members is more valuable to them.

“Without a doubt, being an Honor Guardsman showcases the importance of selfless public service and connection,” said Syzdek. “Everything we do is about the family and the service member that is being honored. We are there not as individuals, but as a part of something bigger. We have the responsibility and privilege to potentially be the last impression the family has of the military.”

On the other hand, Harris and Syzdek are likely the first impression that the family has of the Space Force.

This is one of many reasons Harris’s and Syzdek’s commitment to what it means to be a Guardian is so important.

“Knowing that we are among the few to represent the Space Force is something that I am very proud of and will always remember after my service,” said Harris.

Through exemplifying the core values, they set the stage for those who choose to serve after them – and ultimately, ensure the United States Space Force will continue to have absolute freedom of action in the warfighting domain of the future.

U.S. Space Force | U.S. Department of Defense

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