Behind the Bayonets of the Drill Team's California Tour

  • Published
  • By SrA Daniel DeCook
  • 844th Communications Group
Spinning rifles with precision and accuracy, standing in the public eye 24-7 presenting the crisp Air Force image, all supporting the never-ending Air Force mission of recruiting, retention, and inspiration, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team embarked on yet another cross-country journey, this time stopping in California on a five day TDY. The Drill Team performed for the entire base populace assigned to Edwards AFB, Calif., two local high schools in the Edwards area, guests visiting the famed Walt Disneyland Resort, and on the set of the feature film "Iron Man", taping in California. 

With days packed full of performances, practices, and long bus and plane rides, the Drill Team still must find time to keep up on all the things important to an Airman's career and with the current emphasis on physical training and education, there is not much time for fun and games. A six hour military air flight from the Air Force Honor Guard's home base at Bolling AFB in Wash., D.C., to the Los Angeles area meant some serious study time for many Senior Airman testing for Staff Sgt in the coming months. PFE's and study software were abundant along with audio tapes and practice tests as the team set out on its 17th TDY since the beginning of their performance season. The USAF Honor Guard's Recruiting Team, a part of the Drill Team, made final preparations for the events at Edwards on the flight to Calif. and the Drill Team's leadership took the time away from emails and phone calls to coordinate details for future tours in May and June. 

"It is very difficult to study with the draining and fast-paced schedule we keep," said Senior Airman Adam Clonick. "The extreme concentration that goes into one of our performances doesn't leave a lot of mental energy for studying, but I know if I don't do it while I'm on the road it will be impossible for me to keep up with my peers." 

The performances are also physically draining and more than just maintaining physique, it is critically important that while on the road the Drill Team finds a way to work in time for physical training. The entire team joins up at the end of a long day for group PT. They begin with a quick warm up then move on to the push-ups and sit-ups. Then, with a USAF Honor Guard guidon in hand, the team sets out for a two and half mile formation run, despite the intense heat of the Mohave Desert at Edwards AFB, Calif. 

"The Air Force has set a high standard for us to keep in order to be mission ready and it requires more attention than just a few times while we are at our home base," said Senior Airman Issac Kendrick. "The formation run is a great way for us to stay in performance condition and make sure we are always ready, because the Air Force Honor Guard has PT testing not just once like most organizations, but we test twice per year." 

Airmen across the globe constantly make sacrifices to meet the expectations of being an Air Force member and as one of the most visible and recognizable units across the Air Force, Drill Team Airmen are no exception. So, it's no surprise that just as the Air Force Honor Guard touts in its mission, the Airmen on the Drill Team represent everyone in the Air Force who--despite the long and draining duty days and personal or family sacrifices--keeps focused on successful mission accomplishment. These Airmen do not complain or bellyache about their rigorous schedule, but like everyone, they still try to find a few quiet hours in the day to collect their thoughts and unwind. Knowing they will rest, wake up, and start at everything again the next day.