Airmen to provide support for Ford's memorial services

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons
  • Air Force Print News
Airmen from the Air Force Band and Air Force Honor Guard will be involved over the next five days with the memorial services planned for former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford who passed away Dec. 26.

Bandmembers from the Air Force Band of Flight out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and the Band of Liberty from Hanscom AFB, Mass., will play during the arrival of the casket at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Michigan and while the casket leaves the chapel to be buried at his presidential museum in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"We are a small cog in a big wheel, but it is highly-important for our professional airmen to be there for our service and our country," said Chief Master Sgt. Doug Harry the band manager for Band of Flight.

Honor Guard members from Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., were part of the joint-service efforts during Ford's three-stage funeral beginning Dec. 29 at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif.

Senior Master Sgt. Andre Karr, acting director of operations, said Airmen would be a part of all transfers of caskets including carrying the casket up the steps of the Capitol Rotunda and to the Guard of Honor.

The Guard of Honor always has two persons standing on opposite sides, watching and protecting the casket.

"To be chosen to be in that honorable position, watching over the president is something an Airman will never forget. It is an honor. It's in (his or her) heart and soul to do this," Sergeant Karr said.

Ford's vice presidency began when President Nixon chose him to replace Spiro Agnew who was forced from office. Ford then took over for Nixon as president after Watergate.

Ford signed legislation permitting women to enter the military academies Oct. 7, 1975. Women first entered the United States Air Force Academy on June 28, 1976.

When civilian consultants reported Community College of the Air Force standards exceeded requirements of associate degree programs in civilian community colleges, Ford signed Public Law 94-361 authorizing the CCAF to give the associate degree.

In a joint tribute to the wartime Navy reserve veteran and the armed forces, Ford's hearse will at the World War II memorial.

President Ford's final resting place will be on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., the president's hometown.

President George W. Bush has declared Jan. 2 a national day of mourning.