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Ceremonial guardsman showcases AF excellence in hometown

Symmetry

Airman 1st Class Liam Cain, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsman, performs a rifle maneuver during the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, March 18, 2018. Cain was part of the team’s U.S. northeastern outreach tour from March 16-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Viglianco)

Smiling at the parade

South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade attendees watch as the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard passes by during the parade in Boston, March 18, 2018. The team participated in St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York City and Boston, with both being a part of the Honor Guard’s U.S. northeastern outreach tour to recruit, retain and inspire Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Viglianco)

Parade percussion

Airman 1st Class Mason Yu, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsman and drummer, performs during the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, March 18, 2018. Along with parade performances, the team also visited four high schools in New York and Massachusetts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Viglianco)

Tight grip

Airman 1st Class Liam Cain, right, and other U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen, march in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, March 18, 2018. Cain, a Boston native, got the opportunity to perform in person for his family and friends for the first time during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Viglianco)

St. Paddy’s Day crowd

U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen march in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, March 18, 2018. The event was part of the team’s U.S. northeastern outreach tour, which included both the Boston and New York City St. Patrick’s Day parades, as well as for four local high school visits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Viglianco)

Left, right, left.

U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen march in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, March 18, 2018. The guardsmen promote the Air Force’s mission by showcasing attention to detail, excellence and discipline at public and military venues to recruit, retain and inspire Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Viglianco)

Banner holder

Airman 1st Class Liam Cain, center, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsman, holds a banner during the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 17, 2018. The Air Force Honor Guard followed up their New York performance by marching in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Viglianco)

BOSTON -- As Airman 1st Class Liam Cain, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsman, started marching, cheers erupted from the crowd of parade goers dressed in green. Large groups of attendees lined the city streets as parade performers strode in kilts to Irish themed music while the sounds of bagpipes bounced off the city buildings.

It was the beginning of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 18.

“We are supposed to have our head and eyes straight forward the whole time while we march, but sometimes you just can’t help and glance at all the people on both sides of the street,” Cain said. “You could tell as we marched along the way that people were cheering for the Air Force as a whole. It’s inspiring to witness the love and support we have around the country.”

Cain was part of the Air Force Honor Guard’s U.S. northeastern outreach tour from March 16-19. More than 40 guardsmen traveled to New York and Massachusetts to showcase Air Force excellence.

“The main point of us coming out to these places is to support the Air Force recruiting effort,” said Capt. Riley Platt, Air Force Honor Guard support flight and drill team commander. “We do this by traveling out of the local Washington, D.C., area and interacting with the public, displaying attention to detail, service to the country and discipline of not only the honor guard, but the Air Force as a whole.”

Cain said the trip was different from his previous temporary duty assignments. It offered him the unique opportunity to present his Air Force pride to his hometown of Boston. He said that he has a special connection with the parade because growing up it was tradition to go out and celebrate his Irish heritage by watching it.

“I’ve been going to this parade for many years and it was kind of weird seeing it from the other side,” Cain said. “It felt amazing, and it was a cool opportunity to march down the streets that I walked around as a kid.”

More than 20 friends and family members came out to offer their support as they watched him perform as a guardsman for the first time.

“I was so excited when I saw him go by,” said Kathleen Cain, Liam’s mother. “We brought the whole family out to cheer for him. It was wonderful to see him, and the Air Force looked so sharp during the parade.”

Not only did Cain and his fellow Honor Guard members get to march in Boston, but they also got the chance to display Air Force heritage by marching in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the oldest St. Paddy’s Day parade, first held in 1762. Each year, over 150,000 people participate in the parade and nearly 3 million people line the parade route to watch.

In addition to these large-scale events, the honor guardsmen got to interact with the public on an intimate level by heading out to four high schools in the local area. They performed a color presentation and drill team performance for students. After the presentation, students had an opportunity to talk to guardsmen and ask any questions they have about the Air Force.

“Myself and the other students were so excited when we found out the Air Force Honor Guard was coming to our school,” said Joclin Tapia, Aviation Career & Technical Education High School student. “It was my first time seeing them perform, and I thought it was amazing. ”