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To honor with dignity: A different kind of Guard duty

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class William O'Brien
  • 95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The 34 sharpest Airmen from Edwards, March Air Reserve Base and Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. are responsible for rendering Honor Guard services for the surrounding 82,000 square miles.

No matter the circumstance when the Honor Guard is called on, they must perform, giving a professional presentation.

When a servicemember passes away, the last representation of the military for their family is the Honor Guard as they render Last Rights and present the family with the American flag.

"It gives me a feeling of diginity and honor to be the focus of a tribute to a servicemember or retiree who gave so much for this country," said Staff Sgt. Mike Anderson, Edwards Blue Eagles Honor Guard noncommissioned officer in charge. "It's my passion to go out there and and show that family how much we appreciate everything their family member gave for this country by giving them a perfect ceremony reguardless of the circumstances."

The ceremonies at which they perform are not limited to funerals -- the Honor Guard presents colors at various base events and graduations as well as retirements and retreat ceremonies.

"I know all kinds of things are going to come up during a performance," said Sergeant Anderson . "That's why I prepare them for everything I can think of during practice. We treat every practice like the real thing from start to finish and have every Airman get used to every role so everyone's confortable when they go out there and every movement is crisp and percise."

"When we go out there it's our job to give a professional performance every time, this could be the last memory this person's family has of the service they fought for and it's our job to show them how truly professional we are."

Senior Airman Efren Ramirez, a member of the Honor Guard for the past two years, said that Honor Guard is his passion and that's why he's willing to put in the time and dedication required to be great.

"I can't even describe how much I love to be a part of Honor Guard," he said. "It takes a lot of time and dedication, you have to truly want it to get better. Being a part of these ceremonies and seeing the different aspects of the Air Force has really broadened my perspective and helped me to appreciate the Air Force even more."

Sergeant Anderson says he beleves the Honor Guard plays a crucial role in the military because of how publicly visible it is.

"Not only do we represent the Air Force to the families of passed Airman, we perform in front of thousands of people during flag ceremonies at sports venues and our professionalism is what they use to judge the military."