Nellis Honor Guard out in front
By Airman 1st Class Jamie Nicley, Nellis Public Affairs
/ Published June 24, 2010
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.