JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Three phrases describe the core of what it means to be an Airman in the United States Air Force; Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.
The Joint Base Charleston honor guard is no exception. The members are chosen for their steadfast dedication to the integrity, service and excellence required to bring honor to the ceremonies the Air Force holds dear.
"Being a part of the honor guard team is chance to give back to the Air Force community and to be a part of a brotherhood and sisterhood that is greater than yourself," said Airman 1st Class Isiah Briggs, 437th Maintenance Squadron crew chief.
Most Airmen are just out of technical school and beginning their careers when they start training for the honor guard.
"We are learning teamwork and leadership as well as how to be a follower when needed," said Briggs. "These are all qualities that will help us throughout our career."
Members of the base honor guard flight serve a three-month rotation. At the start of each rotation, every squadron chooses Airmen from a group of volunteers. Trainers from the prior flight teach the new Airmen during a two-week long training flight.
"The toughest part of the training is the rigorous schedule," said Senior Airman John Williams, 437th MXS crew chief and honor guard team trainer. "We are constantly practicing and rehearsing every movement; precision is key."
Precision is one of the main capabilities of the Air Force not often seen by the public. However, the base honor guard demonstrates this capability during every event in which they participate.
"I have failed countless times trying to learn the techniques behind each movement we are required to learn, but my team rallied around and has helped push me to be better," said Briggs.
Once training is complete Airmen are able to participate in various events such as funerals, weddings, graduations, retirements and change of commands.
"The most important responsibility the honor guard has is the presentation at funerals," said Senior Airman Billy Joe Krehbiel, 437th MXS crew chief and honor guard trainer. "I believe the purpose of the honor guard is to show reverent respect to the deceased and to render the proper courtesies to the family of the fallen servicemember."
For many Airmen, being part of the base honor guard is considered an honor itself. Additionally, it is an opportunity to think about what it means to be an Airman in the world's greatest Air Force.
The commitment required to be a part of the Air Force often goes beyond just the service member to include the lives of their loved ones as well.
"Many times the honor guard is the only interaction a servicemember's family will have with the Air Force and we have the opportunity to leave an impact that will last a lifetime," said Krehbiel. "There is no greater distinction than presenting our flag; it's an honor like no other."