Drill Team honors POW, wows cadets

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lindsey A. Porter
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team showcased the precision and excellence of the Air Force and inspired esprit de corps within a local Air Force Junior ROTC unit at Indian River High School in Virginia Beach, Va. during a presentation here April 19. The drill team also conducted a flag-folding demonstration honoring guest speaker and former Vietnam prisoner of war retired Navy Cmdr. George Coker.

"Cmdr. Coker is actually the father of a teacher here," said Craig Blackman, Indian River High School history instructor. "When I heard that, I thought 'There's no way I'm not getting him to speak to my students.' "

During his speech, Coker highlighted the type of mindset required of him in order to maintain inner strength while a POW, specifically noting the mental discipline and standards of conduct he was taught to uphold while a military service member.

After Coker's speech, members of the drill team presented Coker with a folded American flag given to him on behalf of Indian River High School's Air Force Junior ROTC unit and the entire U.S. military.

"Events like these are great because the drill team has the opportunity to showcase the Air Force and demonstrate our teamwork," said Airman 1st Class Russell Schaub, Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team member. "After we perform, we also take time to sign autographs and talk face-to-face to the students. It's an honor to be part of events like these have that have such a huge impact on the local community."

At the event's end, members of the drill team, as well as numerous Air Fprce Junior ROTC students, took time to ask Coker questions one-on-one and personally thank him for his sacrifices as a POW.

"The opportunity to hear Coker speak has been awesome," said Blackman. "If my students take anything away from today I want them to understand just how powerful their mind is and the concept that a standard is a standard is a standard - no matter what time. I'm truly humbled to have had the opportunity to see the drill team and have Cmdr. Coker speak to my students."