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Vandenberg Honor Guard recognizes its new 'Centurions'

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Vandenberg Honor Guard held its unique Centurion Award ceremony at the Vandenberg Honor Guard Training Facility (Building 7420) here May 4. The Vandenberg Honor Guard honors its ceremonial guardsmen with the Centurion Award for having completed 100 honor guard details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Vandenberg Honor Guard held its unique Centurion Award ceremony at the Vandenberg Honor Guard Training Facility (Building 7420) here May 4. The Vandenberg Honor Guard honors its ceremonial guardsmen with the Centurion Award for having completed 100 honor guard details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Ret. Chief Master Sgt. Norm Marous, the first retired Air Force member to ever actively continue serving on an Air Force honor guard, spoke about the importance of the honor guard at a Centurion Award ceremony at the Vandenberg Honor Guard Training Facility (Building 7420) here May 4. The Vandenberg Honor Guard recognizes its ceremonial guardsmen with the Centurion Award for having completed 100 honor guard details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Ret. Chief Master Sgt. Norm Marous, the first retired Air Force member to ever actively continue serving on an Air Force honor guard, spoke about the importance of the honor guard at a Centurion Award ceremony at the Vandenberg Honor Guard Training Facility (Building 7420) here May 4. The Vandenberg Honor Guard recognizes its ceremonial guardsmen with the Centurion Award for having completed 100 honor guard details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Vandenberg Honor Guard held its unique Centurion Award ceremony at the Vandenberg Honor Guard Training Facility (Building 7420) here May 4.

Staff Sgt. Brian Dinkins, a 576th Flight Test Squadron facility maintainer, Senior Airman Jose Porras, a 30th Space Communications Squadron client service center technician, and Senior Airman Laura Blanco, a 30th Medical Operations Squadron public health apprentice, recently earned Vandenberg's distinguished Centurion Award.

The Centurion Award is presented to ceremonial guardsmen who, through dedication and commitment, accomplish 100 ceremonial details in support of the Vandenberg Honor Guard.

"It is incredibly hard to attain 100 details in a few years on an honor guard like this," said Staff Sgt. Ian Perry, a Vandenberg Honor Guard instructor. "It takes a huge effort in time management; balancing normal duties, off duty education, support for squadron events and honor guard details on top of all the little, and big things, life throws at us. I commend the three individuals on achieving this tremendous milestone and encourage their supervisors to let them continue to serve the honor guard, as their knowledge and experience can certainly still be utilized."

The award is unique to Vandenberg thanks to Master Sgt. Glenn McAlister, the former 30th Force Support Squadron first sergeant, who developed the award in 2006, when he was the base's honor guard program manager.

Including the recent awardees, only 24 members have received the prestigious award since its inception.

"This award means that what I have done for the honor guard, veterans and their families, is now set in history," said Senior Airman Laura Blanco, a recent recipient of the Centurion Award. "I have played a key role in something bigger than myself, which is truly amazing. It means that my dedication and commitment has made an impact on someone else - and knowing this is very gratifying."

Some of the functions the honor guardsmen perform include the folding of the flag during "Taps" and the posting of the colors at base events. However, the primary mission of the honor guard is to render military honors to Air Force members and their families during funeral services.

"Without the honor guard, retirees, veterans and their families would never know how appreciative we are, as an Air Force and nation, of their sweat, blood and military careers," Airman Blanco said. "They put on the uniform, so I could be wearing my own. The feeling I get when showing the utmost respect to them, and their families, is unmatched by any other feeling I have ever felt."

Airmen interested in seeing what it takes to be a part of the Vandenberg Honor Guard can watch the team Tuesdays in Building 7420 from 7-10 a.m. For more information about becoming a ceremonial guardsman, call the base's honor guard office at 606-3654.