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Serving on behalf of a grateful nation

  • Published
  • By Capt. Paul Stennett
  • 179th Airlift Wing
MANSFIELD, Ohio – The Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) Honor Guard graduated 10 new members from the Ohio Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve March 23, 2018 at the 200th RED HORSE Squadron, Camp Perry, Ohio.

Attending the graduation was Col. Allison Miller, 179th Airlift Wing (AW) commander, who presented certificates to the Base Honor Guard members from the 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus, the 178th Wing in Springfield, the 179th AW in Mansfield, 200th RED HORSE in Camp Perry, and 910th AW in Youngstown.

Master Sgt. Michael Swick, 179th AW Base Honor Guard Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge said “Camp Perry offers an ideal location to train Base Honor Guard members from all over Wright Patterson's area of responsibility, not only because it is away from the distractions of training at home but because it offers adequate spacing for the training and assures standardized training while allowing our newest Base Honor Guard members to network with their peers.”

In previous training sessions, the team has had trainees from as far as the 123rd AW in Louisville, Kentucky and the 110th Attack Wing in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard covers the largest and busiest area of responsibility in the US Air Force, covering 210,000 square miles in six states and performing over 4,000 military funeral honors per year. This equates to an average of over ten ceremonies per day.

There are three military funeral honors that are rendered: veteran honors, standard honors, and full honors.

Veteran honors are performed for any veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, and consist of two to three personnel who will fold the flag, play Taps, and present the flag to the next-of-kin.

Standard honors are rendered for those who complete 20 years of service, utilizes seven personnel, and incorporates the pallbearing of the casket, six-person flag fold, firing of three volleys, playing of Taps, and presentation of the flag.

Full honors are performed for those who pass while on active duty and incorporate 20 personnel performing the same elements as in the standard honors service.

“Current members of the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve who pass while not on active duty are eligible for standard honors,” said Swick.

The Base Honor Guard offers a moment for families to find closure and for a nation to pay its respects to the member and their family.

“Military funeral honors are the final display of respect shown to a deceased military member, and often the only exposure the family has to the military. During military funeral honors, Base Honor Guard members represent a grateful nation, thanking the deceased member for their sacrifices in the defense of our country,” said Swick.

The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard has 30 airmen assigned to perform military funeral honors.

“On any given day, the required personnel to complete the mission can exceed those resources, which is where the Guard and Reserve augment the active duty team,” said Swick.

Entire military funerals can be delegated to the Guard and Reserve teams, or Guard and Reserve personnel can be integrated into the service.

“It is not uncommon for a military funeral to be total force, that is, utilizing active duty, Guard, and Reserve personnel in one service,” said Swick.

The members who make up the Base Honor Guard team go above and beyond their normal duties. Typically, this role is in addition to their normal duty in the military and often requires them to perform their duties outside of normal working hours.

Members who volunteer for this service exemplify all the characteristics of what it means to serve your country and honor those who have fallen with their ceremonies on behalf of a grateful nation.