Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team performs for special needs students

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff
  • Air Force Honor Guard Public Affairs
Though the usual cheering and applause was muted, the excitement was palpable as the Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team took center stage, or center parking lot, to perform for a special audience Nov. 8.
The team, in Las Vegas to perform for the Air Force's 60th Anniversary Air Force Week at Nellis Air Force Base, took the time out of their busy performance schedule to put on a show for the students at the John F. Miller School for Special Needs.
"We were really excited to do this performance," said Capt. Joshua Hawkins, drill team commander. "We came out to Vegas to not only perform for the air show, but to interact with the community, and this gave us the perfect opportunity to go beyond our normal venue and give back to the community that supports us and to a school that supports the Air Force."
Though all the students attending John F. Miller School are severely handicapped, they were still very excited about the performance, according to Jean Reynolds-Trudell, the school principal. "None of our children can speak, but they can hear the noises the rifles make and see the movement of the team, so it was a very exciting performance for them, as well as our staff. The children enjoy the attention as well, we don't get very many visitors so it means a lot to the staff, as well as the parents and grandparents, that the team came here today"
While at the school the team did the performance, then met with the students to talk and sign autographs, as well as pose for photos and talk with the staff of volunteers, some of whom are also veterans.
"It's such an honor to have them come to our school," said Mrs. Reynolds-Trudell. "We don't have many opportunities to have visitors, so it makes it even more special knowing they set aside time to come to us, even with their very busy schedule. We've been planning this for a while and invited all our students' parents and family members. Because our school has such severely handicapped students, many servicemembers come to Nellis because they know resources are available for their families here - we have two dependents right now, one whose father is deployed. So we already feel we have quite a tie to the Air Force."
But it wasn't just the drill team who came out to support the school, members of the 60th Anniversary Task Force out of Washington, D.C., came out as well.
"Every performance is important, and though these students have special challenges they have to face, each and every one of them deserves the opportunity to see and enjoy performances such as the drill team's," said Col. Benjamin Hulsey, 60th Anniversary Task Force office, Headquarters, Air Force, Washington D.C. "We wanted to give these young children the opportunity to see some of the Airmen defending our country and protecting our freedoms, and this gave us a great opportunity to learn about and interact with each other and gave us a great appreciation and understanding for the challenges these students and their families face on a daily basis."
The stop at the John F. Miller School was only one of the many stops the drill team will have this week, but one of the most memorable ones, according to the team. The team has also performed at a local high school, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and the opening of the air show, and is also slated to perform at the air show throughout the weekend and at the UNLV football halftime show Nov. 10.