E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. (AFNS - 3/6/2012) -- When joining the
Air Force many of us look forward to the opportunity to serve,
pursue our education or seek job security. All of these thoughts
plus a few others crossed through my mind as I signed on the "dotted
line," and committed the next six years to serving in the Air Force.
Little did I know within the first two years of my commitment, I
would understand a greater concept than I had ever before.
was introduced to the Air Force Core Values during basic training.
They were printed everywhere and continued as such through technical
school. We reemphasized them in the First Term Airman's Center and
further events thereafter. I knew them, I understood them, but it
wasn't until I became a member of the F. E. Warren Honor Guard that
I was able to fully comprehend them. Specifically Service Before
Self and Excellence In All We Do.
These two core values became very clear to me when I was
standing in Alliance, Neb., on a frigid, snowy, less than desirable
day. The little town of Alliance provided an experience which will
live with me until the day I die. On the outskirts of town lies its
cemetery, the place where I experienced my first funeral as an Honor
Guard member. This was not the typical funeral, but one of a fallen
active duty member. It was at this point I comprehended the
significance of Service Before Self.
The Honor Guard Charge
requires we stand sharp, crisp and motionless and our performance
will never be dictated by the type of ceremony, severity of the
temperature or size of the crowd. The greatest highlight of 2011 was
being a trainer for a two-week session, when I was able to take 20
individual Airmen and mold them into our team. Transitioning an
Airman into the team is more than just movements and bearing, it's
ensuring every member finds synchronization and mirrors every
minuscule detail of the team rendering honors. To me, this is the
epitome of Excellence in All We Do.
As an Honor Guard member,
it is humbling to serve those who served before me. I am reluctant
because an individual lost their life - however, I am honored to
bestow their rightful honors as a servicemember. This became
extremely apparent at the beginning of this year when I provided
honors for the two fallen F. E. Warren members, one of them being a
fellow 90th Civil Engineer Squadron member. It was an honor and
privilege to pay tribute to these Airmen.
Being able to
participate in three active duty funerals has given me perspective
on how important it is to live everyday like it is your last. As
much as we try not to think about our mortality, we could be the
person receiving military honors within a split second. As I have
heard in the past, I try to live my life to the motto of carpe diem,
seize the day. I encourage each of you to do the same.
Serving as an Honor Guard member, I am representing F. E. Warren Air
Force Base and every Airman serving in the United States Air Force.
This alone drives me to be the best at everything I do.
By USAF Airman 1st Class Alexander Helling
90th Civil Engineer
Air Force News Service
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