U. S. Air Force Honor Guard
Published May 11, 2006
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard is the official ceremonial unit of the U.S. Air Force with headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C. The Honor Guard reports to the 11th Wing, Air Force District of Washington.
The U. S. Air Force Honor Guard's primary mission is to represent Airmen to the American public and the world.
The Honor Guard renders military honors to Air Force personnel and their families during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery. It also conducts military ceremonies at the White House, Pentagon and national memorials. Representing the Air Force in presidential, joint armed forces, Air Force and public ceremonies in the nation's capital, the Honor Guard is under the scrutiny of the highest ranking officials of the United States and foreign nations, including royalty.
The Honor Guard is the lead organization for support, training and standardization for Air Force base honor guard programs worldwide. The unit also promotes recruiting, retention and awareness among Air Force personnel and U.S. and foreign civilians.
The Honor Guard is a selectively manned unit with more than 300 ceremonial guardsmen and support personnel. It is made up of four ceremonial flights, each with the primary color guard, body bearers, firing party, and parade flight qualifications. The Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team is the traveling performance and exhibition unit.
Each qualification team performs a specific function at ceremonies and funerals. The color team displays and guards the United States flag, Air Force flag and flags representing the many offices of visiting dignitaries, as well as every country's flag. The body bearers escort and carry flag-draped remains to burial sites and fold the flag for presentation to a family member. The three-volley salute is executed by the firing party element with seven-man teams firing in unison. The parade flight marches in official ceremonies, from funeral processions to Presidential Inaugurations.
The Drill Team travels around the United States and overseas promoting recruiting, retention and awareness of America's Airmen. They support Air Force Recruiting Service as the official Ambassadors in Blue. Drill Team members perform precision-oriented routines in which they spin, flip and toss 11-pound M-1 Garande rifles with fixed bayonets.
The Honor Guard participates in multiple funerals and ceremonies daily. On average, the units participate in more than 3,500 each year.
The Honor Guard traces its beginning to May 1948 when the newly-formed Air Force headquarters were instructed to develop plans for an elite ceremonial unit comparable to those of the other armed services. The result was a ceremonial unit activated within the 1100th Air Police Squadron in September 1948 with an authorized strength of 98 enlisted and two officers.
Because of transfers and personnel attrition, the ceremonial detachment was disbanded by the end of the year. It wasn't until March 1949 that sufficient personnel were assigned to enable the unit to function.
The Air Force Ceremonial Detachment continued to be assigned to the Air Police Squadron until December 1971. On Jan. 1, 1972, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard became a separate unit.