A little help from the pros: USAF Honor Guard teaches base team a thing or two

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AFB, N.C. -- "In honore et dignitate" is their motto. And that's what they do. Whether they're part of the base honor guard team or the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard team, they render military honors to Air Force personnel and their families with dignity during funerals, and other ceremonies and events.

From Aug. 14 until Wednesday, three members of the U.S. Air Force's Honor Guard team from Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., spent hours upon hours at Seymour Johnson training base honor guard members from the 4th Fighter Wing, the 916th Aerial Refueling Wing, Pope AFB, Langley AFB, Va., and the North Carolina Air National Guard.

The first day of training was spent entirely in the classroom, with the majority of the lessons focusing on proper wear of the ceremonial uniform. The Air Force team also taught basic standing manuals, or maneuvers.

After the first day of classroom training, they took it outside and shifted the focus to the proper way to pay tribute to the families of a lost loved one during a full military honors funeral.

"Our goal is to standardize the way active duty funeral honors are performed across the Air Force," said Tech. Sgt. Charles Forrest, NCO-in-charge of the USAF Honor Guard's base honor guard training program. "We should be able to bring them all together without any variances."


To do that, the three team members spent time teaching proper procedures for pall bearing, the 21-gun salute, posting colors and even bugling. Every base team member rotated through each element so they could learn the ins and outs of that element. They even performed full mock funerals so they could get a true perspective of how the different elements should work together.

Sergeant Forrest and his team members, Staff Sgt. David Little and Senior Airman Andrea Isder, travel to different areas around the country providing this training, stopping in each area every two years. Since there are so many bases, they limit their scope to areas of responsibility and invite members from bases within that area to attend.
This opportunity is of huge benefit to the 4th FW honor guard.

Typically, base team members serve 90-day rotations and receive their training from the NCO-in-charge, a detail leader and two trainers from the previous rotation. And while not every Airman who joins the base honor guard will get to participate in the USAF team's training, the continuity will still be there, so they can continue to do what they do with honor and dignity.

"Seymour Johnson already has a great honor guard," said Staff Sgt. Tamika Robinson, base honor guard NCO-in-charge. "With this training, we hope to perfect ourselves even more in the honors we give throughout the base and the community. We want to make sure we're at our best and we give the utmost honor and respect to everyone, from the active duty person retiring from the military to the veteran receiving full military funeral honors."

Staff Sgt. Eric Rossin, the NCO-in-charge of Pope AFB's honor guard agrees that the training had huge benefits.

"The training gave us a good chance to clarify what was hazy in the training manual," he said, explaining that reading the manual and using the visual aids from the manual didn't always fully demonstrate how things should happen. "So I'm going to take this back to Pope, and we'll fix a lot of minor details and tighten up our movements. It's also good to know we'll be able to join up with another honor guard detail and be streamlined."