Joseph Trujillo can’t remember his grandfather’s funeral at
Riverside National Cemetery in 2007.
He was 19 at the time,
so he should remember, but he just can’t.
His sister says he
was definitely there.
February 2, 2016 - Senior Airman Joseph Trujillo of the 163d Force
Support Squadron at March Air Reserve Base, Moreno Valley,
California, is also a ceremonial guardsman for the base's Blue
Eagles Honor Guard. As a guardsman, Trujillo is always striving for
perfection, which he says is an unattainable goal. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Crystal Housman)
“She said that I was hysterical and balling my eyes out,”
“She said I was in shock.”
Even when he
looks at pictures from the funeral, he said, he still can’t remember
“We were very close, so I probably just didn’t accept it
at the time,” Trujillo said.
U.S. Navy veteran Petty Officer
3rd Class Francis L. Haskin was a Bronze Star recipient who served
in the Korean War.
Trujillo called him Grandpa Red.
can’t remember it, but during the funeral, an honor guard detail
folded a flag in Haskin’s honor, Trujillo’s mother and grandmother
have told him.
When Trujillo and a Senior Airman in the 163d
Force Support Squadron at March Air Reserve Base, learned about the
Blue Eagles Honor Guard program on base, he thought about the honors
his grandfather received.
In a way, he said, becoming a
ceremonial guardsman might make up for not remembering.
been my drive for the honor guard,” Trujillo said of Haskin.
During spring of 2015, Trujillo submitted an application to join the
honor guard and was called in for an interview.
later, Trujillo learned he was selected for a special duty
assignment and would enter the honor guard’s training program.
“When I got that email, I was super excited,” he said.
January 28, 2016 - Senior Airman Joseph Trujillo, a ceremonial
guardsman with the Blue Eagles Honor Guard at March Air Reserve
Base, California, shows a photo of his grandfather, U.S. Navy Petty
Officer 3rd Class Francis L. Haskin. Honoring veterans like Haskin,
who was a Bronze Star recipient and served in the Korean War, is one
of Trujillo's motivations for serving on the base honor guard in
addition to his duties with the Air National Guard's 163d Force
Support Squadron. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Crystal Housman)
As a member of the honor guard training flight, Trujillo studied
the 261-page U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Manual, learned ceremonial
procedures, worked on his movements, and worked on his mindset.
“It’s not an easy job,” he said. “You’re dealing with death
But funeral honors aren’t about death, Trujillo
“They teach that honors are about the family, so you
want to perform at your best,” he said.
After three to four
months of training, Trujillo was ready to perform. His first event
was a two-person flag fold during a veteran’s funeral at Riverside
National Cemetery, not far from where Grandpa Red is buried.
“The flag was shaking,” Trujillo recalled. “I was so nervous.”
His first-time jitters were complicated by the presence of a Los
Angeles-area news crew, who had been working on a story about
“I hope I don’t mess up this flag
fold,” Trujillo kept telling himself.
His teammate kept him
calm as the pair folded the flag, presented it to the next of kin
and played Taps.
“It was a five to ten minute ordeal, but it
felt like an hour to me,” Trujillo said. “I’ll never forget the
Several months have passed since Trujillo made
the move from training flight to performing, but his training isn’t
“I see a lot of leadership potential in him,” said
Staff Sgt. Zakia Webster, who has mentored Trujillo on the honor
guard and also serves with him in the 163d FSS.
building him up,” she said.
Trujillo has performed funeral
honors at more services than he can recount, but he knows he can do
January 14, 2016 - Senior Airman Joseph Trujillo of the 163d Force
Support Squadron (right) performs a 3-volley rifle salute with the
Blue Eagles Honor Guard firing party while rendering funeral honors
for a retiree, at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside,
California. Serving on the honor guard gives Trujillo a way to
connect with his grandfather, a Navy veteran who is buried at the
same cemetery. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Crystal Housman)
“Even though we have our moves and our ceremony down,
there’s always room for improvement,” Trujillo said.
He keeps working on his flag fold. It was his most
challenging task during training and the same task he
nervously performed at his first event so many months ago.
“You don’t really
master anything,” Trujillo said. “You’re always striving to
be perfect, but you are never going to get there.”
Perfect or not, there is one thing Trujillo knows for sure:
that his grandfather would approve.
work, he walks the cemetery’s rolling hills to pay Grandpa
Red a visit.
“I wish he was here,” Trujillo said. “I
think he’d be really proud of me right now.”
By Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Crystal Housman
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