The mission of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard is to represent Airmen to the American public and the world.
The vision of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard is to ensure a legacy of Airmen who promote the mission, protect the standards, perfect the image and preserve the heritage of the organization.
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard originated in 1948 when Headquarters Command, U.S. Air Force, directed the creation of an elite ceremonial unit. The ceremonial unit was activated within the 1100th Air Police Squadron at Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C., with the responsibility of maintaining an Air Force ceremonial capability in the National Capital Region. The USAF Honor Guard officially became a separate squadron in 1972, and the unit remains at the base now known as Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C.
Now, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard has evolved into a selectively manned unit with more than 210 ceremonial guardsmen and support personnel. Organizationally, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard consists of three ceremonial flights, made up of Colors, Bearers and Firing Party qualified personnel. The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard also operates the U.S. Air Force Drill Team.
Together, the ceremonial flights perform an average of 10 ceremonies per day, and more than 2,500 ceremonies annually.
Technical Training SchoolThe U.S. Air Force Honor Guard operates a Technical Training School located on-site. The eight-week training program teaches drill, discipline and standards to all incoming ceremonial guardsmen. The school is mandated by the Air Education and Training Command curriculum. The unit provides indoor and outdoor training areas with structures and equipment to simulate locations in Arlington National Cemetery.
Standardization & Evaluations
The Standardization & Evaluations flight assesses, inspects, evaluates and monitors all functions affecting the quality of the Air Force Honor Guard. It provides the commander with feedback on all operations, personnel and programs. Through effective and thorough evaluations on all ceremonies performed in the National Capitol Region and beyond, the Standardization and Evaluation team is responsible for developing, maintaining and preserving all of the unit's operational processes, instructions, manuals and lesson plans.
The Honor Guard operates its own armory on-site. The facility is responsible for every weapon as well as managing the unit's five-vehicle fleet. The armory protects, secures and maintains over two-million dollars worth of weapons, ordinance, vehicles and other resources used in more than 2,500 ceremonies the Honor Guard performs every year. The personnel are responsible for weapon safety and accountability, and must ensure strict adherence of DoD, Air Force and Honor Guard policy and directives. There are four different weapons housed in this particular armory: the Springfield 1903, which is the primary weapon of Color Teams, the Garand M-1, used by the Drill Team and for presidential ceremonies, the Grand M-14, used by the Firing Party and the Ceremonial Flight, and finally, the Smith & Wesson .38 Cal. M-15 that serves as the Noncommissioned Officer's sidearm along with the Beretta Model 92F M9 that serves as the Armorer's sidearm.
Supply manages the mandatory equipment for every member of the Honor Guard by issuing, replacing, and providing on-site alterations and professional dry cleaning to the specialized ceremonial uniform worn only by the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen. Supply is also responsible for maintaining and servicing all flags used by the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard as well as providing special uniform support to Air Force Aides and the White House Social Aides.
Mission Operation Center
The scheduling section orchestrates the commitment and movement of approximately 120 Airmen to more than 10 different ceremonies each day in the National Capital Region. The daily schedule can run from 2:00 AM to 11:00 PM every day of the year, to include federal holidays. To contact the scheduling office, call 202-767-9254 during business hours.
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard houses an on-site barber shop, exclusively available to ceremonial guardsmen and women assigned to the unit six days a week. The Barber Shop is critical in ensuring that the Airmen display the professional image standard set by the Air Force daily. All Ceremonial Guardsmen must have a fresh haircut when they report every Monday, and they must maintain a fresh haircut throughout the work week.
Additionally, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard has a Resource Manager, Force Development Manager and Training Manager -- some of whom are also ceremonial guardsmen.
ColorsThe Colors Flight displays and guards the Nation's flag, U.S. Air Force and Space Force flags, and flags of the many visiting dignitaries' native countries. The flight presents the colors for both Air Force specific events and with other services' honor guards for joint service missions.
These teams generally consist of four individuals. The two outermost are rifle guards and serve as protectors of the colors, which are carried by the two individuals in the middle. The individual on the right carries the Nation's flag and the other carries the Air Force and Space Force flags. This tradition dates back to the origins of warfare.
The battle streamers hanging from the Air Force flag represent every conflict and campaign the Air Force has fought in since its birth in the U.S. Army Aeronautical Division in 1907. Their total weight is nearly 40 pounds. There are ceremonies in which additional flags are presented as well.
The Body Bearers Flight participates in U.S. Air Force, joint service, and state funerals by carrying the remains of deceased service members, their dependents, senior or national leaders to their final resting places at Arlington National Cemetery.
The bearers begin by removing the casket from the caisson used to transport the deceased to the gravesite. The caskets generally weigh from 450 to 600 pounds, but there are exceptions, when some caskets have been known to exceed 900 pounds. They then carry the fallen to the gravesite while keeping the casket perfectly level and without showing any visible signs of strain as military bearing must be maintained at all times.
The length of the carry can easily exceed 60 yards. Once the grave-site is reached, their duties continue by holding the flag taut and level at rigid attention until the service is complete.
Next, the flag is folded and presented to the next-of-kin. Additionally, the bearers serve in the Awards Bearers and Wreath Bearers capacities for many ceremonies throughout the National Capital Region.
Firing Party performs the firing of three volleys (commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as the "21-gun salute") during a funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery.
These seven-man teams fire their three rounds in perfect unison honoring the fallen.
Historically, three volleys of rifle fire were fired to indicate that the casualties had been cared for in a combat environment, and that the fighting could resume. As time passed, these volleys became an official military custom that survives to this day.
The Firing Party trains two to six hours each day depending on scheduled commitments.
The mission of the Training Flight is to provide comprehensive training support and standardization for the rendering of military honors for the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard and base honor guards worldwide.
The training flight runs the eight-week basic technical training course for all newly assigned members to the Honor Guard, and the ten-day in-residence/mobile training team course for base honor guards.
The training flight also encompasses the Honor Guard Recruiting and Force Development sections of the Honor Guard.
The Drill Team is the traveling component of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard. Their mission is to promote the Air Force mission by showcasing drill performances at public and military venues to recruit, retain, and inspire Airmen.
The team performs drill movements with a fully-functional M-1 rifle in intricate, constantly changing formations. They support the Air Force Recruiting Service as the official Ambassadors in Blue.
The Honor Guard Drill Team is known around the world for their precision, discipline, and sheer ability to inspire awe.
USAF Honor Guard
50 Duncan Ave., Suite. 1
Bolling AFB, DC 20032
Click here to see the full list of contacts