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Air Force Honor Guard beefs up 2007 routine

Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team members unveil their new 16-man performance for their 2007 drill season at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., on Nov. 21. The team spent a month at Lackland AFB, Texas, practicing and perfecting the routine. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff)

Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team members unveil their new 16-man performance for their 2007 drill season at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., on Nov. 21. The team spent a month at Lackland AFB, Texas, practicing and perfecting the routine. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff)

Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team members unveil their new four-man performance for their 2007 drill season at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., on Nov. 21. The team spent a month at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, practicing and perfecting the routine. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff)

Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team members unveil their new four-man performance for their 2007 drill season at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., on Nov. 21. The team spent a month at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, practicing and perfecting the routine. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff)

First Lt. Joshua Hawkins, Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team commander, stands at attention during a drill by members of the four-man drill team. The drill team unveiled their new performances for 2007 Nov. 21 at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff)

First Lt. Joshua Hawkins, Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team commander, stands at attention during a drill by members of the four-man drill team. The drill team unveiled their new performances for 2007 Nov. 21 at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff)

BOLLING AIR FORCE BASE, D.C. (AFPN) -- Throw, flip, twist, turn, roll, swing, catch. As the routine drives home and the final rifle hits, the team is welcomed back with an overwhelming reception. Only when their nerves settle do they see the people and hear the applause, they can finally relax and appreciate the reception.

After a month spent away from family and friends practicing, training and learning, the Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team has returned ready to show off a new team and a new performance for their 2007 drill season.

With plans to visit more than 50 Air Force bases and travel more than 170 days of the new drill year, the team was glad to start off with a performance at home Nov. 21 where they "unveiled" their new routine to not only base Airmen, but friends and family as well.

"They are outstanding, truly inspiring," said Col. Kurt Neubauer, 11th Wing commander. "Every time I see them I get reblued, they remind me why I serve."

After both the four-man and 16-man routines came to a close, the team received a standing ovation from the crowd, which was the reaction each driller hoped for.

"We wanted to 'shock and awe' with our new routine, but I was amazed by the response we got, it definitely made all the hard work we did worth it," said Senior Airman Jeremy Schlaubach, drill team member. "What you will see from us this year is a much more intense performance than in years past, and I hope we get the same response everywhere we go."

To prepare the new routines, drill team members spent 30 days at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. This break from the ops tempo and demands of work and home allowed new members the time they needed to practice and catch up with experienced drillers, and gave every member of the team the time to focus on perfecting the performances. Also, because the drillers practiced up to 18 hours a day and lived and worked with one another constantly, they learned to trust and rely on each other.

"This was my first time at the camp with these men, but I was really impressed by all I saw and how focused everyone was on getting the drills right," said Lieutenant Hawkins. "And from the performance we had today, I can see how important it really was because today was definitely a great success."

The new performances are not polar opposites of the past, but a reworking to incorporate faster, more advance maneuvers. The actual routines are slightly shorter, but include more overhead and underhand rifle tosses and exchanges between drill members.

"It's amazing what just the short time away did for us," said Lieutenant Hawkins. "We just came off the heels of a great season, but I have great hopes that this coming season will exceed the last."

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