USAF Honor Guard epitome of standard during CSAF transition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lindsey A. Porter
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
Don't move. Don't move a single muscle.

Hours of drill and ceremony, dress rehearsal and uniform preparation have all come down to this.

Don't move. All eyes are on you.

Standing sharp, crisp and motionless, in full U.S. Air Force Honor Guard service dress, you know how important a day like today is. This isn't your first dog-and-pony show.

Today is different though. Today, you'll be standing at attention, front and center, before some of the Air Force's most-senior leaders. For 90 minutes, all eyes will be on you during the Chief of Staff of the Air Force's transition ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.

This is what being a member of the 11th Wing and one of the world's most-recognizable honor guard units is all about. Choosing to be a ceremonial guardsman in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard means you've been training for a day like this since you joined.

Oh (and by the way) the Pentagon Channel, The Defense Media Agency and Air Force Television are all broadcasting this performance live.

Bring it on.

During the ceremony, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the color guard and the two flights of motionless Airmen standing at ceremonial parade rest before him.

"I remember looking as good as they do now when I was a younger soldier," said Dempsey. "Well, maybe not that sharp."

Dempsey wasn't the only general to recognize the dedication of those Airmen either. From the start of the transition ceremony until Gen. Norton Schwartz's farewell speech, the color guard had stood at attention, holding their bearing.

"Before I begin, I'd like to request the color guard to go to parade rest," said Gen. (Ret.) Norton A. Schwartz, former Air Force Chief of Staff. "You've been at attention this whole ceremony. I know I'm retired, but I think I still have that power."

With a myriad of rehearsals, performances, and more than 40 color team and honor guard qualifications under his belt, Senior Airman Anthony Wagner, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard NCO of the color team, has built the confidence to lead his team through any type of situation - even a ceremony where the highest-ranking Air Force member makes impromptu requests.

After hearing his instruction, Wagner's voice echoes through the ceremony Hangar as he commands his team to parade rest.

Wagner and his fellow honor guardsmen weren't endowed with this level of precision. For every ceremony, the members of the 11th Operations Group, to include the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard, have been prepping for a while.

"Ceremonies like this don't just happen," said Master Sgt. Jack Whitfield, CSAF transition NCO in charge of ceremony. "Everyone with a key position has been handpicked to be here. The backbone of this entire mission is the honor guard and other 11th Wing Airmen. You may not see it on their faces, but everyone is very motivated to be here."

Capt. Scott Belton, Assistant Director of Operations for the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard agrees.

"We are always training in the honor guard. We do events like this all year round," said Belton. "This is my first transition ceremony, but one of the only differences from the average ceremony we do would be today's pass and review."

The mission of the honor guard is to the American public and the world. The role of the Air Force Honor Guard is to set the military standard, perfect its image and preserve its heritage. During the Chief of Staff of the Air Force transition ceremony, the honor guard not only upheld this mission, they epitomized it.

"No, I wasn't nervous," said Senior Airman Charles Black, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard personal colors bearer. "I've performed as an honor guard personal colors bearer more than 20 times. We've trained in this type of atmosphere so much that there's no way we're nervous. It's another day in the guard."