Lasting impressions of an AF honor guardsman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

An overwhelming urge to serve and a determination to recognize the sacrifices made by Airmen in the past enabled one Airman here to represent the Air Force on a national level.

Walking tall throughout the base, it's apparent that Master Sgt. Andre Moore stands out from the rest of the Airmen. His uniform is sharp and he carries himself with pride. He has the mark of an Air Force honor guardsman.

Not unlike a tattoo, the Air Force Honor Guard experience is impressed upon Moore for the rest of his life, but instead of ink staining his skin, professionalism saturates his demeanor.

"It's a representation of more than yourself," Moore said. "It's the pride and honor of wearing the uniform and remembering all those who sacrificed before me. It's about serving an organization that serves others."

Moore was raised as a military brat with two parents serving throughout his entire childhood. When Moore was 18, he decided the military wasn't going to be the life for him. He enrolled in college and was an avid track runner for two years before an indescribable calling to do something more came over him.

"I can't really explain it, but I wanted something more," Moore said. "I needed a life change, to receive an education and to travel, and the Air Force provided all of that to me."

He joined in 1995 as aviation resource management and while stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, a traveling team representing the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard visited. He was entranced and his friend encouraged him to submit an application, saying his leadership as an NCO would be a welcome quality for a program consisting of mostly newer Airmen.

The application process for the unique special duty was extensive, with a broad range of physical requirements and duty performance history. Moore needed to show that he consistently demonstrated high standards of character, discretion, loyalty and performance and could present an impeccable military image.

He waited anxiously for an answer to his application and an opportunity to feed his never-ending ambition. The letter came and he was accepted to join one of the Air Force's oldest programs.

In June of 2005, Moore arrived at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., for technical training. All his preparation and years in the Air Force didn't prepare him for what was to occur next.

"It was definitely a different experience," Moore said. "I was met by a senior airman on the first day that was reminiscent of a military training instructor from basic training. Mind you, I was a staff sergeant at this time and it was weird to have someone who was lower in rank ordering me around."

The next sixty days would prove a struggle for the only NCO in a group of technical school Airmen. Technical proficiency in the honor guard is an art form and Moore had trouble learning the trade.

"Essentially, it's relearning how to walk and stand and dress yourself all over again, but their way," Moore said. "At the end of it all, it really made me take pride in the uniform I was wearing and the country I was serving."

After training, Moore was assigned to the Body Bearers Flight in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard. The Body Bearers Flight participates in Air Force, joint service and state funerals by carrying the remains of deceased service members, their dependents and senior or national leaders to their final resting places at Arlington National Cemetery.

According to Moore, honoring families in this manner reached him on an extremely emotional level.

"There was one time I was presenting a flag to a widow and she reached out and grabbed me," Moore said. "It caught me off guard and as I walked past the rest of their family members, they all reached out and touched me. I realized then, I was their Airman who passed away. I represented who he was and the family didn't want to let go."

Moore served with the honor guard for more than four years and had the opportunity to perform honor guardsman services at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, the Pentagon and the White House. He laid distinguished Airmen to rest, performed retirement and promotion ceremonies, and also performed with the color guard with impeccable professionalism and military bearing.

"It's selfless," Moore said. "I was proud of what I was doing because the sacrifices of Airmen can be traced to each event. It was my way of thanking those who served before me."

His time with the honor guard came to a close and he came back to his regular career field, but it seemed like something was missing when he returned.

"I said to myself, I have this knowledge and I can't let it go to waste," Moore said. "I have four years of unique information that I can impart on some of the Airmen around me and I can do more than just reminiscence on the memories."

Moore decided to join the base honor guard. The Base Honor Guard Training Program is a smaller, sister program to the official honor guard to standardize ceremonies performed from base to base across the Air Force.

"The Aviano Base Honor Guard program is important because we're presenting the Air Force to the Italian community," Moore said. "For some Italians who have never seen the United States Air Force before, we are it. We are the face of the military here."

These days, Moore is the superintendent of the Aviano Base Honor Guard Program and the 510th Fighter Squadron. He continues to develop and mold Airmen and honor the Airmen he is proud to call his brothers-in-arms.

"Being part of the program is more than just a volunteer thing for me," Moore said. "It gives me a sense of pride in wearing this uniform and it allows me to understand the importance of our flag flying. It's about knowing why we do what we do and, most of all, it's about honoring the lives of those before us because freedom isn't free; people sacrifice their lives for the cause."