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Nellis Honor Guard out in front

LAS VEGAS, Nev.-- US Air Force Staff Sgt. Julio Viloria salutes a funeral flag after handing it off to a widow during a performance of military funeral honors at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas, March 18, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley)

LAS VEGAS, Nev.-- US Air Force Staff Sgt. Julio Viloria salutes a funeral flag after handing it off to a widow during a performance of military funeral honors at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas, March 18, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley)

LAS VEGAS -- Members of the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard provide a dignified transfer for the remains of Maj. Russell C. Goodman, a U.S. Air Force pilot that was killed in action during the Vietnam War, from a Hawaiian Airlines flight at McCarran International Airport Jan. 12. Major Goodman served as the narrator for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadon "Thunderbirds" from 1964-65 and was declared missing in action after his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile Feb. 20, 1967, while on a combat mission over North Vietnam. At the time of his loss, Major Goodman was still assigned to the Thunderbirds and was flying with the U.S. Navy on an exchange program. Funeral services for Major Goodman will take place at the Thunderbirds Hangar on Nellis AFB at 11 a.m. Jan. 14. He is to be buried in Alaska at a date determined by his family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth/RELEASED)

LAS VEGAS -- Members of the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard provide a dignified transfer for the remains of Maj. Russell C. Goodman, a U.S. Air Force pilot that was killed in action during the Vietnam War, from a Hawaiian Airlines flight at McCarran International Airport Jan. 12. Major Goodman served as the narrator for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadon "Thunderbirds" from 1964-65 and was declared missing in action after his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile Feb. 20, 1967, while on a combat mission over North Vietnam. At the time of his loss, Major Goodman was still assigned to the Thunderbirds and was flying with the U.S. Navy on an exchange program. Funeral services for Major Goodman will take place at the Thunderbirds Hangar on Nellis AFB at 11 a.m. Jan. 14. He is to be buried in Alaska at a date determined by his family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth/RELEASED)

LAS VEGAS-- Russell Goodman (in uniform), along with his sisters, Christine and Deborah, look on as members of the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard provide a dignified transfer for the remains of their father, Maj. Russell C. Goodman, a U.S. Air Force pilot that was killed in action during the Vietnam War, from a Hawaiian Airlines flight at McCarran International Airport Jan. 12. Major Goodman served as the narrator for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadon "Thunderbirds" from 1964-65 and was declared missing in action after his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile Feb. 20, 1967, while on a combat mission over North Vietnam. At the time of his loss, Major Goodman was still assigned to the Thunderbirds and was flying with the U.S. Navy on an exchange program. Funeral services for Major Goodman will take place at the Thunderbirds Hangar on Nellis AFB at Jan. 14. He is to be buried in Alaska at a date determined by his family. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. William P. Coleman/RELEASED)

LAS VEGAS-- Russell Goodman (in uniform), along with his sisters, Christine and Deborah, look on as members of the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard provide a dignified transfer for the remains of their father, Maj. Russell C. Goodman, a U.S. Air Force pilot that was killed in action during the Vietnam War, from a Hawaiian Airlines flight at McCarran International Airport Jan. 12. Major Goodman served as the narrator for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadon "Thunderbirds" from 1964-65 and was declared missing in action after his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile Feb. 20, 1967, while on a combat mission over North Vietnam. At the time of his loss, Major Goodman was still assigned to the Thunderbirds and was flying with the U.S. Navy on an exchange program. Funeral services for Major Goodman will take place at the Thunderbirds Hangar on Nellis AFB at Jan. 14. He is to be buried in Alaska at a date determined by his family. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. William P. Coleman/RELEASED)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.-- Airman 1st Class Erastus Odongo of the Nellis Honor Guard dresses the flag during the repatriation and funeral ceremony in honor of Maj. Russel C. Goodman at the Thunderbird hanger on Nellis AFB, Jan. 14, 2010. Maj. Goodman served as the narrator for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds from 1964-65 and was declared Missing-In-Action after his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile in Feb. 1967, while on a combat mission over North Vietnam.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.-- Airman 1st Class Erastus Odongo of the Nellis Honor Guard dresses the flag during the repatriation and funeral ceremony in honor of Maj. Russel C. Goodman at the Thunderbird hanger on Nellis AFB, Jan. 14, 2010. Maj. Goodman served as the narrator for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds from 1964-65 and was declared Missing-In-Action after his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile in Feb. 1967, while on a combat mission over North Vietnam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.-- The Nellis  Honor Guard performs a 21 gun salute in honor of Major Russell Goodman outside the Thunderbird hanger, Jan. 14, 2010.  Maj. Goodman served as the narrator for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds from 1964-65 and was declared Missing-In-Action after his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile in Feb. 1967, while on a combat mission over North Vietnam.
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. William P. Coleman)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.-- The Nellis Honor Guard performs a 21 gun salute in honor of Major Russell Goodman outside the Thunderbird hanger, Jan. 14, 2010. Maj. Goodman served as the narrator for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds from 1964-65 and was declared Missing-In-Action after his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile in Feb. 1967, while on a combat mission over North Vietnam. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. William P. Coleman)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Senior Airman Anthony Berardocco plays taps during a memorial ceremony for 1st Lt. Joel Gentz, 25, a combat rescue officer assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron; and Staff Sgt. David Smith, 26, a helicopter flight engineer assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base June 18.  The two were among four Airmen killed and three wounded when an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed during a medevac mission in southeastern Afghanistan June 9. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Senior Airman Anthony Berardocco plays taps during a memorial ceremony for 1st Lt. Joel Gentz, 25, a combat rescue officer assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron; and Staff Sgt. David Smith, 26, a helicopter flight engineer assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base June 18. The two were among four Airmen killed and three wounded when an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed during a medevac mission in southeastern Afghanistan June 9. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley)

LAS VEGAS, Nev.-- Members of the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard present the flag during a high school graduation at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, June 9, 2010.
(U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley)

LAS VEGAS, Nev.-- Members of the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard present the flag during a high school graduation at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, June 9, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley)

LAS VEGAS, Nev.-- Airman 1st Class Eric O'Neill assists Naval personnel with a funeral flag during the firing party sequence of a military funeral, at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas, June 10, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley)

LAS VEGAS, Nev.-- Airman 1st Class Eric O'Neill assists Naval personnel with a funeral flag during the firing party sequence of a military funeral, at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas, June 10, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - The Nellis Honor Guard presents the colors during the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron change of command at Creech Air Force Base on May 15, 2010.
(U.S. Air Force Photo and Illustration / Lawrence Crespo)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - The Nellis Honor Guard presents the colors during the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron change of command at Creech Air Force Base on May 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo and Illustration / Lawrence Crespo)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard is one of the busiest in the country, performing upwards of 1,100 details annually in an area spanning 108,000 square miles, 16 counties and four states. These include military and civilian ceremonies as well as other related functions including color guards, funeral honors, military cordons for distinguished visitors; and flag details for retreat and retirement ceremonies.

The team's commitment and dedication to excellence contributes significantly to the superb relationship Nellis shares with the local community. In order to keep up with the demanding schedule, the Honor Guard is in constant need of new members.

"Currently, the Honor Guard is looking for 10 to 15 Airmen to backfill those deployed as well as enable us to continue to provide funeral, base and civic support," said Tech. Sgt. Jillian Swanson, NCOIC of the Nellis Honor Guard. "Previously, Airmen spent four months away from their primary duty, which impacted both the work section and individual. Under a new six-week rotation, members spend two weeks on Honor Guard duty, two weeks on call, and two weeks off duty. This allows Airmen to work up to four weeks within their duty section when not scheduled for details."

Airmen from all career fields and any rank are welcome to apply for Honor Guard duty. Those selected complete a two-week program, which provides standardized training in how various ceremonies are performed across the Air Force. While on duty with the Honor Guard, Airmen continue to maintain and improve their skills by doing drill and training throughout the day.

"We sometimes feel like we have done enough training, but we can still be surprised," said Airman 1st Class Ashley Banks, a food apprentice assigned to the 99th Force Support Squadron. "Anything can happen at a detail, so we train every day to make sure that we are prepared and that we can exceed people's expectations."

The Honor Guard's primary responsibility is to perform military funeral honors. These include ceremonies for veterans, retirees and active-duty members. Military funerals are certainly the most memorable of many Honor Guard members' experiences.
"Funerals are hard... when you pass the flag off to a widow, you want to hug them, tell them to stop crying, and that everything will be all right, but you can't," said Airman 1st Class Eric O'Neill, an assisted dedicated crew chief assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "You have to remain stoic, which is really difficult, but it is also a huge honor. Those are really poignant moments."

Anyone interested in applying for the Honor Guard should contact their immediate supervision and fill out an application. For more information, call Sergeant Swanson at 652-4136.

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