Honor Guard practices for perfection

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alex Martinez
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
"To honor with dignity," shouted the line of Airmen standing sharp in the broken light of the open hangar door. This is how they end their uniform inspections and begin their session. With ceremonial rifles and flags in hand, they follow the commands belted out by the group leader and march in sync with each other.

In an instant, their stern faces vanish and they return to "themselves," falling out of formation because they had a misstep and need to reorganize. Again and again they march until they are satisfied with their gestures and their expectations are met.

These members of the 39th Air Base Wing Honor Guard are practicing for perfection, but what does that mean exactly?

"The honor guard is a team for Airmen who show dedication to the Air Force, wear their uniforms proudly and practice their skills with the best of the best," said Staff Sgt. Ismael Rodriguez, 728th Air Mobility Squadron and honor guard noncommissioned officer in charge. "Honor Guard is a time-honored tradition, and it allows people to be part of something bigger than what they're used to."

It takes about a month to teach new members of the honor guard the basic skills needed to perform the duties they execute at events such as change of command ceremonies, funerals, retirements and other official Air Force functions. The Incirlik team here practices at least once a week to perfect those skills.

Some notable events the honor guard has participated in are the POW/MIA and 9/11 Remembrance and the Fourth of July ceremonies.

"The level of professionalism and dedication exhibited by our Honor Guard Airmen is something to behold, and the make me proud every time I see them at a function," said Col. Eric Beene, the 39th Air Base Wing commander. "From sharp dress and appearance to strong military bearing, much is required from Honor Guard members. I hope to find more Airmen who are up to the challenge of joining such a team. Our wing is always looking for interested Airmen, officer and enlisted, to represent us and themselves in a positive way."

The Air Force Honor Guard abroad is one of the oldest organizations in the Air Force, and its members highlight the importance of keeping its heritage strong.

"Honor guard is a good way to maintain Air Force traditions that must be followed as a member of the team," said Staff Sgt. Constantine Malek, 39th Medical Support Squadron and honor guard trainer.

Being part of the honor guard team is voluntary, but being sharp and professional is mandatory. Standards like that attract Airmen by highlighting the selflessness of the service and its benefits; benefits such as free dry cleaning, ceremonial uniforms, competition for multiple awards and an achievement medal and an opportunity to be part of a professional team.

"Airmen should join to show pride in their Air Force and themselves as Airmen," Sergeant Rodriguez said.

The team currently has about 18 members, and its leaders hope that number will increase as more Airmen become aware of the program.

Sergeant Malek said Airmen who are hesitant to join should stop in on a practice to see what it consists of.

"If they like what they see, we would be happy to have them join and be part of a good, fun team," Sergeant Malek said.

The 39th ABW Honor Guard team meets every Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Hangar 5.

For more information on how to join the team call 676-3034.