USAF Honor Guard Drill Team considered 'best of the best'

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Daniel Burkhardt
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
In a symphony of discipline and precision, the United States Armed Forces most elite drill teams gathered at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial here April 14, 2012 to compete for the title of the "best of the best."

The fourth annual Joint Service Honor Guard Drill Competition included teams from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, the Merchant Marines, the Coast Guard and the Air Force.

For the Air Force team, something went dangerously wrong.

"I had a broken weapon," said Senior Airman Christopher Martinez-Hernandez, USAF Honor Guard Drill Team member. "Three or four people were exchanging with it, and at first it was just cracked. But, after it was butted on the ground so many times, when I got it, it was just done."

Despite the unforeseen challenge, the Air Force team pushed on as if nothing had happened.

"Military bearing. Discipline," Martinez-Hernandez said. "You just got to keep going. That's our job."

Their dedication to unbreakable bearing paid off, as the Air Force team took first place in the competition.

"I didn't notice (the broken weapon)," said Master Sgt. Nathan Todd, one of the Joint Service Drill Competition judges. "Their bearing was not broken and their training propelled them to victory."

The other services' teams also performed well, making the competition a very close call.

"The scores were very close, and I know that I was impressed by a few things from the other branches of service," said Todd. "I think this was one of the best performances I've seen from our guys in the last two years.

The victory didn't come without a price, as the Air Force team put in many hours of practice to perfect their new routine.

"We trained for anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day specifically for this," Martinez-Hernandez said. "We put in a lot of hard work and stayed extra hours."

As the saying goes, nothing good comes easily.

"Putting on this kind of show is really rewarding," said Martinez-Hernandez. "That was our mission today, and that was what we accomplished."