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NEWS | Aug. 4, 2010

437 MXS Airman selected for Air Force Honor Guard

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Trading skills steeped in the nuts and bolts of aerospace ground equipment, an Airman with the 437th Maintenance Squadron here is preparing for an honorable mission far from the edges of the Charleston flightline.

Senior Airman Arthur Eschenburg and his wife Rebecca will be embarking on the next phase of their life together with the "Chief's Own" Air Force Honor Guard team at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., in October. In less than two months the couple will depart, and the feeling Airman Eschenburg said he now enjoys has surpassed his expectations.

"The day I found out, I called my wife over lunch and said, 'Start packing.' She asked why, and I said, 'Just start packing' - that's when she put the dots together and she started crying," he said. "If you told me a year ago I'd be going to the Air Force Honor Guard, I wouldn't have believed you."

Airman Eschenburg goes by "Ecsh" for short at the Base Honor Guard detachment. His last name has proved too hard for most to pronounce, he said. He arrived at Charleston nearly three years ago and has been an Honor Guard member for one. It was approximately six months ago he set out to prove he has what it takes to stand with the "Chief's Own," although he was nearly counted out due to a clerical error.

With many thanks for the overwhelming support of Charleston leadership, he said his package was able to be resubmitted for a second time. It is with great pride he will join the team, Airman Eschenburg said, and speaks highly Joint Base Charleston that he was selected.

In the course of the past year Airman Eschenburg discovered he had something more to prove - to himself, his family and to the Air Force. In joining the Boy Scouts at 11 years old, he found he had an eye for detail and excellence, he said. Childhood reflections, carried into adulthood, only reaffirmed in his mind the choice to make Air Force Honor Guard his aspiration, he said.

Ironically, he said he'd been oblivious a detachment existed at Charleston upon first arriving, until seeing them perform at a promotion ceremony. After the experience, it wasn't long before he joined up.

The indoctrination into Charleston's Base Honor Guard can be a difficult one, said Staff Sgt. Chanice Reid, Base Honor Guard noncommissioned officer in charge, but Air Force Honor Guard is even more difficult, she added. The training she administers at Charleston was derived from experience she gained at Bolling Air Force Base, where she trained among Air Force-level guardsmen.

"I train to prepare for Air Force Honor Guard," she said. "When members first come in, they are placed in a basic training-style program. A lot goes into it, and you can really tell the ones who love it."

Airmen Eschenburg said he is under no illusions about the difficult duty he has in store. He knows some of the same stories of honorable services performed by guardsmen as Sergeant Reid, from service members standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in the face of a hurricane, giving funeral honors to national leaders at Arlington National Cemetery and facing hours of grueling training in a facility she calls "The Barn". Even a shoe shining session lasting up to eight hours is not beyond the resolve of its most committed members, they said.

Airman Eschenburg has had months to consider his new assignment, he said, and many nights falling asleep wondering what the future would hold.

"It'll be hard, but it's worth it," he said. "They are everything the Air Force represents - the epitome of the Air Force."