04/03/2019 – CHARLOTTE, N.C. – --
As March sprung into April, a select group of Airmen from the North Carolina Air National Guard transformed into the newest members of the 145th Airlift Wing’s Air Force Honor Guard; a group of military professionals that represent Airmen to the American public and the world, while maintaining a high standard, flawless image, and preserve the heritage of our nation’s military.
For two weeks, fourteen volunteers from around the 145th Airlift Wing trained with traveling instructors from the United States Air Force Honor Guard Training Flight based out of Washington D.C.
“It feels wonderful to see the amount of people that actually volunteered to be here,” said Senior Airman Portia Short, a Ceremonial Guardsman and training instructor with the United States Air Force Honor Guard Training Flight. “We taught them basic standing manuals for drill and ceremony, customs and courtesies, and it was like a condensed course for them.”
One of the most common functions of the Honor Guard is rendering the flag during military ceremonies such as high ranking retirements or promotions. They also possess a sacred mission of body bearing during joint service and state funerals, in which they transport the remains of deceased service members, and senior or national leaders to their final resting places.
“To see everyone is here because they want to be here and they want to be able to give that type of honor back to these families who have lost someone in the military... words can't even express,” said Senior Airman. Short.
During the training, Senior Airman Short and her fellow instructors went over the three elements of funeral services: firing party, pallbearers, and colors. For the 145th Airlift Wing this means that it now has a large group of skilled Airmen that can provide uniformed service to funerals and ceremonies throughout the North and South Carolina states.
“I think that this ranks up there with one of the hardest things I've done,” said Tech. Sgt. Joylynn Bishop, an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician and new member of the 145th Airlift Wing Honor Guard. For Bishop, the opportunity to go through this training fulfilled a decade long dream, “I volunteered for it. It's something that I've been trying to do for almost the last 11 years and this is the first opportunity I've had, so I'm very excited to be a part of it.”
“My favorite part about this training was the constant positive reinforcement and if you got something wrong, that was okay. They (the instructors) understood you're learning, that's okay, let's do it again. You're going to get this, I know you're going get this,” said Tech. Sgt. Bishop.
Senior Airman Short explained that giving positive reinforcement payed off for each of her students, “They did wonderful. It's a really, really good group of people. You could tell they really wanted to be here and it showed in their effort; they learned a lot.”
While everyone who took the training course volunteered, not every volunteer is able to take the training. To become a member of the Honor Guard there is a height requirement, an interview process, and the final selectees are hand chosen to undertake, so the accomplishment of graduating the fourteen North Carolina Air National Guardsmen cannot be understated.
“It’s a huge honor, and it’s not one that I take lightly,” said Tech. Sgt. Bishop, “I think the highest honor you can give is to provide respect to those who served before you.”