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Patriotic Article
Troops and Veterans
By Ryan Hansen

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Special Ceremonies Team Represents Air Force
(September 26, 2009)

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (9/22/2009 - AFNS) -- Airmen who are part of a geographically separated unit are often the only Air Force representatives in their community. The same is true of the 14th Weather Squadron's Special Ceremonies Team, located in the Veach-Baley Federal Building here.
From left to right, Staff Sgt. Nick Case, Capt. Alicia Hughes, Capt. Randy Haeberle and Staff Sgt. Andrew Porden of the 14th Weather Squadron’s Special Ceremonies Team present the colors at a Hope for Wounded Warriors event featuring former Kansas senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole. The SCT serves as both the color guard and honor guard for an area covering almost 20,000 square miles in the Western Carolinas and Eastern Tennessee.
From left to right, Staff Sgt. Nick Case, Capt. Alicia Hughes, Capt. Randy Haeberle and Staff Sgt. Andrew Porden of the 14th Weather Squadron's Special Ceremonies Team present the colors at a Hope for Wounded Warriors event featuring former Kansas senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole. The SCT serves as both the color guard and honor guard for an area covering almost 20,000 square miles in the Western Carolinas and Eastern Tennessee. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The 12-person team is the only active duty unit found in the Western Carolinas and Eastern Tennessee, and its primary mission is to ingest, provide quality control, archive, simulate and exploit global environmental climatological information in support of military planning and combat operations around the world.

But its the team's other mission that draws it the most attention. The SCT serves as both the color guard and honor guard for an area covering almost 20,000 square miles.

While some might shy away from such a situation, this team relishes the opportunity and is proud to fly the flag for the Air Force -- both figuratively and literally.

"The thought crosses my mind every time I interact with the public here that I am not only representing myself, but the Air Force as well," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Porden, an applications programmer with the 14th WS and SCT member. "For some people, we are the only military personnel they will ever meet and the first impression we make could last their entire lifetime."

And, being separated from a regular base, the team's mission is often misunderstood.

"Most people do not know that there is an active duty Air Force unit here," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Hubler, NCO in-charge of the SCT and configuration manager for the 14th WS. "Typically we are asked if we are recruiters and, in some sense, we are. Many people here do not see any military on a regular basis, so for us to come to their town and support their community events is an honor and a privilege."

But the team isn't just about hoisting the flag, it also performs funeral honors for veterans throughout the area.

"Rendering final honors is the most rewarding for me," Sergeant Porden said. "To be able to show a family that their loved one was part of our Air Force family, and that we take care of our own, is a great honor."

In addition to the usual requests, the SCT also provides its services at many unique events. It led 2008's first Fourth of July parade, stepping out at 12:01 a.m. for a huge gathering in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

"This is just one small way (we) can give back to the local region and community that has offered us so much to help the men and women of our squadron," said Lt. Col. Richard Butler, 14th WS commander.

The team has also stood on stage for the NASCAR all-star race in Charlotte, N.C., and presented the colors at a Hope for Wounded Warriors event that was attended by former Kansas senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole.

"The big events like NASCAR and the NBA games are exciting," Sergeant Hubler said. "There is just so much going with the production of the prerace or pregame events leading up to the presentation of colors. Once the moment comes, in my mind, I know that I am there to represent not just the Air Force or the Department of Defense, but all service members past and present, and everything great about America."

The team has become so well-known and respected in the area they typically get asked to return to annual events.

"It's good to know their efforts are appreciated when they are called on year after year for high profile events," said Master Sgt. Angela Tristan, 14th WS first sergeant and the SCT's senior enlisted member. "It's a great experience to serve with such outstanding Airmen and to learn from them. I couldn't ask for a better team."

By Ryan Hansen
Air Force Weather Agency Public Affairs

Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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