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Vandenberg NCOs join Armed Forces Inaugural Committee

WASHINGTON --  U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alicia Ward (far right) attends an all-hands meeting on Fort McNair, D.C., May 21, 2008. Tech. Sgt. Ward is a member of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee preparing for the 56th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathrine McDowell)

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alicia Ward (far right) attends an all-hands meeting on Fort McNair, D.C., May 21, 2008. Tech. Sgt. Ward is a member of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee preparing for the 56th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathrine McDowell)

WASHINGTON --  Staff Sgt. Mark Cornejo attends an all-hands meeting Fort McNair, D.C., May 21, 2008.  Staff Sgt. Cornejo is a member of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee preparing for the 56th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathrine McDowell)

WASHINGTON -- Staff Sgt. Mark Cornejo attends an all-hands meeting Fort McNair, D.C., May 21, 2008. Staff Sgt. Cornejo is a member of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee preparing for the 56th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathrine McDowell)

WASHINGTON -- Tech. Sgt. Alicia Ward, assigned to the 30th Operations Group, and Staff Sgt. Mark Cornejo, assigned to the 567th Test Squadron, recently joined the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, which is preparing to support the 56th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2009.

AFIC is a joint service committee charged with coordinating all military ceremonial support for the inaugural period. As a joint committee, it includes members from all service branches of the armed forces of the United States, including Reserve and National Guard components.

Sergeant Ward is assigned to the command group as an executive assistant. She is responsible for assisting the commander and deputy commander in directing AFIC planning as well as coordinating and executing Department of Defense ceremonial support within the National Capital Region for the 56th Presidential Inaugural. Tech. Sgt. Ward is an active duty member of the United States Air Force and has served for 15 years.

"To participate in the 56th Presidential Inaugural is quite an honor. Many individuals are only able to imagine what it is like here in Washington D.C. and what goes on behind the scenes during these historic events. I get to be at the heart of it and that is breathtaking!" said Tech. Sgt. Ward.

Sergeant Cornejo is assigned to the ceremonies directorate as an administrative noncommissioned officer. He is responsible for establishing administrative channels and correspondence flow, tracking and processing personnel evaluations, and briefing VIPs. Staff Sgt. Cornejo is an active duty member of the United States Air Force and has served for eight years.

"It's an honor to be a part of AFIC. I have never had this deployment before, and this will be a great experience for me," said Staff Sgt. Cornejo.

The U.S. Armed Forces have participated in the inauguration of the president of the United States since April 30, 1789, when members of the U.S. Army, local militia units and Revolutionary War veterans escorted George Washington to his first inauguration ceremony at Federal Hall in New York City. Two hundred twenty years later, the military's participation continues to honor our commander in chief, recognize civilian control of the armed forces and celebrate democracy.

Military participation traditionally includes musical units, marching bands, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen assigned to AFIC also provide invaluable assistance to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a not-for-profit, partisan organization made up of members selected by the president-elect, and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies.

The Secretary of Defense has authorized nearly 750 service members to be assigned to AFIC by Inauguration Day to coordinate Department of Defense support in and around the District of Columbia. Historically, as many as 5,000 service members have participated in the celebration, both in view of the public and behind the scenes.

Sergeants Ward and Cornejo have a role in the armed forces in the 56th Presidential Inaugural that is like that of any other essential mission during peace or war. While the U.S. armed forces are deployed around the globe, military participation during the presidential inaugural period is an essential demonstration of support to the nation's newly elected commander in chief.