USAF Honor Guard 'motivated' during CSAF transition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lindsey A. Porter
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
Don't move. Don't move a single muscle.

Hours of drill and ceremony, dress rehearsal and uniform preparation have all come down to this.

Don't move. All eyes are on you.

Standing sharp, crisp and motionless, in full U.S. Air Force Honor Guard service dress, you know how important a day like today is. This isn't your first dog-and-pony show.

Today is different though. Today, you'll be standing at attention, front and center, before some of the Air Force's most-senior leaders. For 90 minutes, all eyes will be on you during the chief of staff of the Air Force's transition ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.

This is what being a member of the 11th Wing and one of the world's most-recognizable honor guard units is all about. Choosing to be a ceremonial guardsman in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard means these Airmen have trained for a day like this since they joined.

During the ceremony, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the color guard and the two flights of motionless Airmen standing at ceremonial parade rest before him.

"I remember looking as good as they do now when I was a younger Soldier," said Dempsey. "Well, maybe not that sharp."

Dempsey wasn't the only general to recognize the dedication of those Airmen. From the start of the transition ceremony until retired Gen. Norton Schwartz's farewell speech, the color guard had stood at attention, holding their bearing.

"Before I begin, I'd like to request the color guard to go to parade rest," said Schwartz, former Air Force chief of staff. "You've been at attention this whole ceremony. I know I'm retired, but I think I still have that power."

With myriad rehearsals, performances, and more than 40 color team and honor guard qualifications under his belt, Senior Airman Anthony Wagner, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard NCO of the color team, has built the confidence to lead his team through any type of situation -- even a ceremony where the highest-ranking Air Force member makes impromptu requests. After hearing Schwartz's instruction, Wagner's voice echoed through the ceremony hangar as he commanded his team to parade rest.

Wagner and his fellow honor guardsmen weren't endowed with this level of precision. For every ceremony, the members of the 11th Operations Group, to include the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard, have prepared with training and rehearsals.

"Ceremonies like this don't just happen," said Master Sgt. Jack Whitfield, chief of staff of the Air Force transition NCO in charge of ceremony. "Everyone with a key position has been handpicked to be here. The backbone of this entire mission is the honor guard and other 11th Wing Airmen. You may not see it on their faces, but everyone is very motivated to be here."

Capt. Scott Belton, assistant director of operations for the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, agreed.

"We are always training in the honor guard," said Belton. "We do events like this all year round. This is my first transition ceremony, but one of the only differences from the average ceremony we do would be today's pass and review."

The role of the Air Force Honor Guard is to set the military standard, perfect its image and preserve its heritage.

"No, I wasn't nervous," said Senior Airman Charles Black, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard personal colors bearer. "I've performed as an honor guard personal colors bearer more than 20 times. We've trained in this type of atmosphere so much that there's no way we're nervous. It's another day in the guard."