Drill Team members reflect on where they came from during AF Week

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tabitha N. Haynes
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
The Ambassadors in Blue for the United States Air Force Recruiting Services performed during the Air Force Week events Aug. 19 at Pier 86, New York, N.Y.

The ceremonial unit, otherwise known as the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team, tours worldwide to demonstrate the commitment to service and excellence every Airman in the U.S. Air Force strives to perform daily.

One member of the Drill Team had the honor of demonstrating his commitment to excellence in his hometown.

Master Sgt. Whitfield Jack, superintendent of the Drill Team, was welcomed by his friends and family cheering him on in the crowd as he led the 16-man ceremonial unit through the intricate performance that included overhead throws of the M-1 rifle.

"This is something I never imagined - it gave me goose bumps. I grew up on the streets of Brooklyn and Staten Island," said Jack. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would lead a fine, sharp group of young men right here in New York City."

Prior to leading the ceremonial unit known for recruiting and inspiring new Airmen into the force that protects air, space and cyber space, Jack was a military training instructor at (then) Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

"I have had a storybook career," said Jack. "At first I was making sure the Airmen were being the best they could be, and on the Drill Team I get to see the fruits of my labor."
One of Jack's ceremonial guardsmen strived to be the best he could be in order to become a member of the Drill Team.

"I was a sophomore in high school and I was in a ROTC program. The Drill Team came to my school to drill," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Vanderbeck. "The Drill Team is the reason I joined the military. Seeing them made me want to go above and beyond. Since that day I have had that as a dream."

From that moment, Vanderback set out to fulfill his dream of becoming a ceremonial guardsman on the Drill Team. He worked hard within his career field as an F-16 avionics technician to ensure he would be ready when the opportunity called.

"I worked on the flight line and those were hard days," said Vanderback. "I just had to be the best. With everything in the military, that is what I have done - I have always tried to step up my game and not be second best."

For more information on the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team visit their website here.

The Drill Team is the traveling component of the USAF 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 USAF Honor Guard Drill Team is known around the world for their precision, discipline, and sheer ability to inspire awe.

In addition to operating the USAF Drill Team, the USAF Honor Guard also consists of four ceremonial flights: Colors, Bearers, Firing Party and Parade Flight qualified personnel. The selectively manned unit has more than 210 ceremonial guardsmen and support personnel. Together, the ceremonial flights perform an average of 10 ceremonies per day, and exceed approximately 2,750 ceremonies annually.