Honor guard sharpens skills

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
The base honor guard recently spent their days training as part of an 80-hour training course taught by Air Force honor guard instructors here, March 23 through April 1.

The Air Force honor guard training instructors train base honor guards at the request of the base, which unifies honor guard standards across the Air Force.

"We want to make sure that military funeral honors are standardized amongst all 225 bases that have an honor guard program," said Tech. Sgt. Doumit Elias, Air Education and Training Command Air Force honor guard team chief. "We want to ensure that everyone is on the same sheet of music and we are all performing the ceremonies properly."

Many of the Airmen who received training had no previous experience with the honor guard.

"Normally when we train base honor guards, they are established and they have a program," said Elias. "We are just coming in to evaluate and give our input here and there. But this honor guard is mostly brand new. We had to adjust the way we train. We went from evaluation mode into instructor mode. We are training these Airmen to be ceremonial guardsmen."

The fact that many of the Airmen had no previous experience actually proved beneficial for the instructors, as they didn't have to help Airmen 'unlearn' bad habits.

"The great thing about them being new is that we can mold them from scratch," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Spear, AETC Air Force honor guard training instructor. "You aren't trying to break old habits; you are molding them into exactly what you need them to be."

The Vandenberg honor guard covers three counties, so having a large contingent that is well trained and focused is imperative.

"The training had a tremendous impact on our skills," said Master Sgt. Robert Varkonyi, 30th Space Wing honor guard NCOIC. "It helped standardize what we do and reinforced the proper honors for funerals in the three counties we serve, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. It's great having such a large group well trained and all on the same page."

The hard work of the Airmen is evident in how they conduct themselves as well as the way in which they wear the uniform.

"The honor guard reinforces the professionalism that the military has," said Staff Sgt. April Spilde, AETC honor guard training instructor. "Vandenberg should be proud of this honor guard, they learned to work together and put great effort into their training. They are also taking more pride in how they wear the uniform. This base should be proud to have this honor guard representing the Air Force at local funerals and ceremonies."