USAF Honor Guard performs at McConnell AFB, Derby HS

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Abigail Klein
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Marching in unison while also performing gravity defying rifle maneuvers, seventeen members of The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard drill team displayed their talent to McConnell members Feb. 14, 2011.

The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard currently consists of approximately 250 Airmen. The drill team annually performs at approximately 45 different cities nationwide.

Each branch of military service has a select group of service members who train to carry out the mission at Arlington National Cemetery. The Air Force Honor Guard drill team travels around the United States and overseas promoting recruiting, retention and awareness. Drill team members perform precision-oriented routines in which they spin, flip and toss 11-pound M-1 Garande rifles with fixed bayonets.

"The Air Force Honor Guard members apply the Air Force core values to their mission by displaying 'excellence in all they do,'" said Airman 1st Class Tabitha N. Haynes, Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs, Washington, D.C. "At each performance, The Air Force Honor Guard drill team has a goal to perform flawlessly to represent the excellence put forth by all Airmen around the world."

To represent these core values, team members must undergo specialized training after completing the Air Force standards at basic military training.

The honor guard members then continue to the Air Force Honor Guard Technical Training School for eight weeks of strict physical and technical training at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

After honor guard members are fully qualified to fulfill their mission at Arlington National Cemetery, they can elect to go through an additional six-week training course for the drill team. The course is concluded with a solo performance in front of the entire Honor Guard where the drill team trainee is evaluated and then selected for the team, said Airman Haynes.

Once trained, members perform at various events and locations ranging from high schools with Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, to halftime shows at National Football League games. The team spends nearly 180 days per year on temporary duty traveling and performing.

One member of the drill team, Staff Sgt. Kelly Webster, Air Force Honor Guard drill team NCOIC, was excited to perform at McConnell because he is a Derby, Kan., native. While in Kansas, Sergeant Webster and the team performed at his alma mater ,Derby High School, where he was a member of the class of 2004.

"It was really awesome to perform [at Derby] because that is where I first decided I wanted to be on the drill team," he said. "I was in the school's Junior Reserve Officer Training course when I saw a video of the drill team. I knew then that that was exactly what I wanted to do."

In addition to Derby High School, the drill team performed and met with McConnell's Honor Guard. Present at the meeting was Staff Sgt. David Perry, 22nd Air Refueling Wing religious program support NCOIC, who was a member of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team from 2007 to 2009.

"They are like a group of brothers to me because when you're part of the team, you're always part of the team," Sergeant Perry said. "It was almost like a family reunion."

After travelling through parts of Kansas, the team continued to Oklahoma City to represent Airmen serving around the world during military appreciation night at an Oklahoma City Thunder NBA game, and then performed at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The team will return to Washington, D.C. afterward.