Eielson Honor Guardsmen perform a simulated funeral ceremony at the Baker Field House Feb. 8, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. As part of the Honor Guard graduation ceremony the graduates demonstrated their training in colors, firing squad and pallbearer. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Racheal Watson)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy Vasquez, 354th Contracting Squadron cyber transport journeyman, folds the American flag during an Honor Guard graduation ceremony Feb. 8, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Vasquez participated with 21 Honor Guard graduates in a simulated funeral ceremony. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Racheal Watson)
An Eielson Honor Guard firing squadron presents arms during an Honor Guard graduation ceremony Feb. 8, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The firing squad performed a simulated military funeral ceremony demonstrating drill movements, military bearing and wear of the ceremonial uniform. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Racheal Watson)
U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Shane Perry, 354th Logistics Readiness squadron readiness officer in charge, presents the American flag to Airman 1st Class Jonathon Dipasquale, 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron functional systems manager, as part of a simulated military funeral ceremony during an Honor Guard graduation Feb. 8, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Perry’s role involved offering the flag to the next of kin as a symbol of appreciation for the deceased member’s service. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Racheal Watson)
by Airman 1st Class Zachary Perras
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/15/2013 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Airmen from various squadrons of the Iceman Team participated in a rigorous week-long training program Feb. 4 to 8 in order to become members of the Eielson Air Force Base Honor Guard team.
Each year, Eielson honor guardsmen train Airmen aspiring to be a part of a team that epitomizes the Air Force's core values. The week of preparation is spent instructing proper drill movements, wear of the ceremonial uniform and being a steward of the Air Force.
The honor guard team performs at various ceremonies ranging from promotion recognition to retirements, but the one ceremony that requires constant preparation is a military funeral. Honor guardsmen represent those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so they are never forgotten.
"You are the final impression of the military to a family - it's a sobering experience," said Senior Airman Adam Bowen, 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-16 assistant dedicated crew chief. "It's been a life-changing experience and a great way to give back to families who have lost loved ones."
Having been a part of the team for over a year now, Bowen said the honor guard has helped develop him as a better Airman.
"I've definitely gotten more motivation to do things right and I care a lot more now because I've learned that it's not just for my own gain, it's for people who have lost loved ones," Bowen explained. "I have a lot more respect for the military now because it opened my eyes to a different side of the military. It's absolutely an honor being a part of this team."
Honor guardsmen at Eielson commit to a year-long service to the base honor guard. The mission is unique and it allows Airmen to be stewards of the Air Force in a completely different capacity.
Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Smith, 354th Security Forces Squadron response force member, said he volunteered to become an honor guardsman in order to display the Air Force in a positive way and do something bigger than himself.
"It's something that you have to really think about and think about why you're doing it," Smith said. "You should be doing it out of respect for what it is you're actually doing, whether that's giving a family closure [at a funeral] or anything else."
Wearing the ceremonial uniform is challenging, but ultimately gratifying. Representing the Air Force is the embodiment of the honor guard and those who do so also represent Eielson's finest.
For more information on the Eielson Air Force Base Honor Guard, call 377-2875 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.