Honor Guard--a time honored tradition

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Dominique Brown
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
They are seen at the base ceremonies, performing with precision movements and whispered commands, each detail practiced to perfection.

From change of commands to promotion ceremonies, the Honor Guard provides traditional military ceremonies with dignity and honor.

"Our basic mission here is to provide professionalism and honor to a ceremony," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Richards, 374th Airlift Wing, Air Base Honor Guard noncommissioned officer in charge, also a contracting specialist with the 374th Contracting Squadron. "We are very fortunate to have 20 dedicated volunteers on the Honor Guard team here from the wing."

Although most Honor Guards are known for rendering military honors to Air Force personnel and their families during funeral services, there are not many funeral details overseas, said Sergeant Richards. "Because of this, we do not need the same manpower that a stateside base requires, and the wing does not need to mandate members to join the guard."

However, the Honor Guard tasks to the fullest each of its 20 members with mission requirements here and around the Pacific region. "Our main duty is to present the colors at various ceremonies," said the NCOIC.

Sending out retirees with a professional flag folding ceremony, securing the flags during Wing or Group formal retreat ceremonies, saber courdons for ceremonies or military weddings and providing distinguished visitors with courdons are just some of the ceremonial details the Honor Guard performs.

Yokota's Honor Guard also performs off base details throughout the Pacific. "We attended the 60th Anniversary of the end of WWII military action in the Pacific, held in Manila, Philippines, and also performed a joint color guard with the Australian Government celebrating their actions during World War II," said Sergeant Richards. "We even have performed details at various professional baseball and football games throughout Japan."

"Drill has always fascinated me, and after I saw the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery, I decided to join the Honor Guard," said Airman 1st Class Malcolm Sharpe, Honor Guardsman from the 374th Maintenance Squadron, aircraft structural maintenance section. "Being in the Honor Guard requires incredible bearing and professionalism at all times during a detail, no matter how hot or cold it is or if I am tired or feeling sick."

To maintain their bearing and keep their courtesy photo courtesy photo precision movements sharp, the guardsmen must practice once a week. "We practice every Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. and also the last Friday of every month is an all-day practice," said the Honor Guard NCOIC.

For individuals interested in becoming an Honor Guard member, they must first pass training requirements. "We train spotential members on Honor Guard movements and evaluate them at the end of the week. If they pass the training seminar, they are on a 30 day observation training period," said Sergeant Richards. "After the 30-day period, the member is evaluated again to become a Ceremonial Guard."

New recruits must also sign a 13- month contract of commitment to the Honor Guard. Which must be signed by their supervisor and First Sergeant.

To contact the Honor Guard for a ceremony detail, or for information on becoming an Honor Guard member, call Sergeant Richards at 225-8880.