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Patriotic Article
By USAF SSgt. Matthew Bates

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Honor Guard Exhibits Excellence, Represents Service
(October 29, 2010)

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BOLLING AIR FORCE BASE, D.C. (10/26/2010 - AFNS) -- For Airmen assigned to the United States Air Force Honor Guard here, excellence isn't a trait to be desired, it's expected.
"We are in the public spotlight day in and day out," said Staff Sgt. Eric Allen, the media librarian for the USAF Honor Guard. "So every time we do our job we have to make sure we are representing the Air Force positively."

To do this, the 240 Airmen assigned to the unit spend their days practicing drill and other ceremonies that are part of the USAF Honor Guard's responsibilities. These range from rendering honors at funerals to marching in parades to performing advanced drill movements at public events.

"If we're here and not performing, we're practicing," said Airman 1st Class Robert Barnhart, a trainer with the Honor Guard's firing party.
  Members of the U. S. Air Force Honor Guard's firing party practice firing their rifles Oct. 25, 2010, at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C. The firing party conducts rifle volleys at funerals for veterans.
Members of the U. S. Air Force Honor Guard's firing party practice firing their rifles Oct. 25, 2010, at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C. The firing party conducts rifle volleys at funerals for veterans.
These practices aren't just busy work, either. Every movement of every routine the Honor Guard performs has to be perfect - each hand moving at the same time, each finger pulling a trigger simultaneously and each drill movement synchronized expertly. So, practice makes perfect. And the better the practice, the better each performance.
"If we put in the effort when we practice, then that makes us better," Airman Barnhart said. "And the better we are here (on Bolling AFB), the better we look out there."

And out there, a lot of people are watching. It may be family members at a fallen Airman's funeral, kids at a local middle school or millions of people watching a former president's burial. But no matter the event or number of people watching, the USAF Honor Guard's mission is always the same: Perform with excellence and represent the service with pride.

"It's the most fulfilling job I've ever had," Sergeant Allen said. "And the things we do aren't for us, but for the Airmen and families we represent."

There are two ways to join the USAF Honor Guard. Airmen can sign up while in Basic Military Training and head to Bolling AFB right after graduation or Airmen already in the Air Force can simply go to the unit's website,, fill out a package and wait to see if they are selected. Upon selection, Airmen will go to Bolling AFB for an eight-week technical training course.

"It's been one of the best experiences of my life," Airman Barnhart said. "If I could do it all over again, I would."

Article and photo by USAF SSgt. Matthew Bates
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
Copyright 2010

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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