Andrews Base HG integrates with USAF HG for 57th presidential inauguration

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Bahja Joi Jones
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
To the Airmen of The Unites States Air Force Honor Guard, a presidential inauguration is one of many high-profile, high-visibility events they will participate in during their careers. To many other Airmen in the National Capitol Region, however, participating in this year's inauguration is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Twelve members of the Joint Base Andrews Base Honor Guard fall into the latter category. They will integrate with U.S. Air Force Honor Guard for the 57th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C.

Interested Andrews honor guardsmen auditioned in August of 2012, where they demonstrated their skills with weapons manuals and handling. They also had to explain to a panel why they believed they should be selected.

"It is an honor to not only be a part of history, but also to work with the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard as they have always been immortalized as my military idols," said Fresno, Calif., native Airman 1st Class Suchi Xiong, 744th Communications Squadron cyber transport apprentice.

The selectees were then sent to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., for 10 days of intense training.

"The training consisted of six to 10 hour days of basic honor guard standing movements, weapons manuals and marching and an in-depth ceremonial uniform preparation and wear briefing," said Grass Valley, Oregon native Senior Airman Matthew von Borstel, United States Air Force Honor Guard training instructor. "The training was tough, but the members I trained were all highly motivated and proud to be a part of the mission and understood the importance of what they were about to be a part of, which made the integration easy."

Following the training, the members attended rehearsals and received additional training up to twice a week from early December leading up to Inauguration Day.
"The way the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard executed drill and ceremonies and weapons manuals caught me off guard as I had overconfidence in myself," said Xiong. "But with structured practices I persisted and learned the ways of a ceremonial guardsman."

The day of inauguration, the group will march an approximate two-mile route through D.C. in a nine-by-nine formation and salute the President near the White House during a pass and review. Those who aren't a part of the formation will be escorts and ushers at the Capitol building for various distinguished visitors.

"I really look forward to the opportunity to present a professional military image to the civilian population who will be in attendance," said Staff Sgt. Kody Whiteside, 779th Medical Operations Squadron Emergency Care Center technician, an Andover Kan., native. "It will also be an exciting opportunity to meet, however briefly, some of the famous and important people in our society."

This enthusiasm for the mission at hand made the intense training a smooth experience.

"I'm very impressed with the team work of both the USAF Honor Guard and Base Honor Guard for how well they were able to work together and make the integration as easy as it was," said von Borstel.