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Training week shapes Vandenberg's ceremonial guardsmen

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  Vandenberg Honor Guard trainees practice posting the colors at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010.  During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg Honor Guard trainees practice posting the colors at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010. During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lemens, Airman 1st Class Julian Newby, Capt. Douglas Carmean and Airman 1st Class Isabel Perri, all Vandenberg Honor Guard trainees, practice posting the colors at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010.  During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lemens, Airman 1st Class Julian Newby, Capt. Douglas Carmean and Airman 1st Class Isabel Perri, all Vandenberg Honor Guard trainees, practice posting the colors at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010. During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Senior Airman Laura Blanco, a Vandenberg Honor Guard flight trainer, leads base honor guard trainees during pallbearer training at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010.  During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Senior Airman Laura Blanco, a Vandenberg Honor Guard flight trainer, leads base honor guard trainees during pallbearer training at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010. During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg Honor Guard trainers perform pallbearer duties during training week at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010.  During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg Honor Guard trainers perform pallbearer duties during training week at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010. During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg Honor Guard trainers perform pallbearer duties during training week at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010.  During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg Honor Guard trainers perform pallbearer duties during training week at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010. During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lemens and Airman 1st Class Julian Newby, both Vandenberg Honor Guard trainees, lead their team by moving a casket at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010.  During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lemens and Airman 1st Class Julian Newby, both Vandenberg Honor Guard trainees, lead their team by moving a casket at the base honor guard facility here Wednesday, March 3, 2010. During the ceremonial guardsmen training week, the trainees are taught teamwork, drill and rifle movements, and other Air Force ceremonial details. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Vandenberg Honor Guard is currently conducting its quarterly ceremonial guardsmen training week here March 1-5.

This quarter, six Airmen, coming from various career fields, have volunteered their time, on- and off-duty, to become a part of the Vandenberg Honor Guard.

Each day at 7 a.m., before the day's training begins, the trainees fall into formation for daily announcements and a routine uniform inspection.

"We make sure all of our Airmen are meeting the Air Force's uniform standards of appearance," said Staff Sgt. Ian Perry, a Vandenberg Honor Guard instructor. "As ceremonial guardsmen, it is also important for us to set the standards on base and represent the Air Force the best we can."

After the morning formation, the instructors oversee the trainees through a series of ceremonial guardsmen movements, details and physical conditioning sessions.

"Training is both physically and mentally demanding," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lemens, an honor guardsmen trainee. "Although demanding, it is good training because it keeps all of us Airmen on the same page - looking sharp and in uniformed order. It gives you a good basis of professionalism, respect and teamwork."

At the end of the week, the discretion of the instructors, the trainees are certified as ceremonial guardsmen and are officially part of the Vandenberg Honor Guard. Ultimately, it is the instructors' responsibility to ensure the Airmen are prepared to perform at Air Force ceremonies and events.

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. The primary responsibility of the Vandenberg Honor Guard is funeral honors, paying the final respects to fallen servicemembers.

For Sergeant Lemens, this detail is what inspired him to become a ceremonial guardsman.

"After watching a ceremonial funeral procession for my father, I decided that I would also do it for other people and carry on the tradition," he said. "That experience has left a lasting mark on my memory; there was nothing else like it. I, too, would like to give that to others."

Although, honor guard programs are mandatory Air Force-wide, the Vandenberg Honor Guard still encourages dedicated Airmen to volunteer for the duty.

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 606-3654.