NEWS | Dec. 7, 2010

Honor Guard Spotlight: Airman 1st Class Keitha McCarthy

By Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Name: Keitha McCarthy

Hometown: Appleton, Wis.

Squadron and job title: 437th Operations Group intelligence analyst

Time in the Air Force: one year, two months

Time in Honor Guard: 45 days

What inspired you to join honor guard? I had an instructor in technical school who spoke highly of the Honor Guard, which originally had me interested. It wasn't until after I started that the people and the mission of Honor Guard truly inspired me.

How do you feel the Honor Guard supports the mission of Joint Base Charleston?
One of the missions of JB CHS is Comprehensive Airmen Fitness, developing wholeness. The Honor Guard supports the mission by helping to complete that circle. Of course, an Airman is not just the work in front of him or her, but they are appreciated for the work they do. When they are promoted, when they retire, and when they die, the Air Force provides ceremonial guardsmen to honor this service to country -whether it was one term or many.

What lessons have you learned as a result of being in the Honor Guard? Being in Honor Guard has taught me about leadership. There is opportunity to lead and take charge here, and to shoulder responsibility.

How do you contribute most to the Honor Guard Team? The Honor Guard Team becomes fairly close knit during a rotation, and it is important to keep a positive attitude. I am usually a detail leader, and try to take a turn at everything, from the different detail positions to driving the many hours to a detail.

What is your favorite part of being a Ceremonial Guardsman? My favorite part about being a Ceremonial Guardsman is the reminder it serves: of those who have served before, the importance of ceremony and recognition, of the importance of serving your country and of patriotism. I think a lot of younger people do not think about what it means to be an American. Presenting the flag before a game, or folding the flag at a funeral, reminds the spectators and children of the importance of that flag. If it was not for the Honor Guard and what we do, the warriors' work and mission could go largely unnoticed or unappreciated.

Do you have any future career goals? The Air Force has many opportunities for commissioning, and I am currently putting together a package for the Airman Education and Commissioning Program. I am also working to complete my Community College of the Air Force degree and continuing my language skills through Rosetta Stone.

Who is your role model and why? Staff Sgt. Gonzales - he is a great leader and trainer. He is able to criticize, critique and train, and everyone is happy to have him around. He is always positive, encourages us and loves his job.

What is your single most memorable moment in Honor Guard? Being the NCO of pall bearing for a funeral will stay with anyone. The NPB is the one who hands the flag to the next of kin. The look in their eyes ... it's unforgettable.