WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard is one of the most tasked Honor Guards in the Air Force and the Department of Defense.
The Honor Guard’s primary mission is to provide military funeral honors for active-duty members, retirees and veterans who served honorably in the Air Force within their six-state 210,000 square mile area of responsibility. States include all of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, half of Indiana and West Virginia and two counties in Pennsylvania.
“I love the Honor Guard,” said Staff Sgt. Isabella Allen, an education and training non-commission officer from the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, who is currently serving a six month rotation with the Honor Guard. “Every time you hand off the flag to the next of kin is a special moment.”
Military funeral honors is an Air Force tradition.
The Honor Guard began in 1948 as a single guard responsible for ceremonies in the Washington D.C. area. In 1972, the current Honor Guard system was formed and bases throughout the United States received training. In 1998, the US Air Force standardized training for all honor guards, and in the year 2000 the Wright-Patt Honor Guard was fully recognized and accepted.
“It is a very humbling experience,” stated Airmen 1st Class Melissa Domingues with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. “The service member that passed away is ending their Air Force journey and I am taking their place and giving them a proper send off and thank you.”
The Honor Guard has 32 personnel that are assigned on a rotational basis, 12 Air Force Reserve and National Guard members on orders, and six staff members. They average approximately 300 details per month and more than 4,000 per year.
“The Honor Guard teaches you direction while learning new movements,” said Airmen 1st Class Jeremy Riviere, a communications specialist with the 88th Communications Squadron. “It can be a struggle but after the ceremony your confidence builds.”
The Honor Guard also performs color guard events which include retirements, promotions and change of command ceremonies. In addition more than 400 community events are performed each year.
“I recommend this job to any military person,” said Master Sgt. Keith Watson, superintendent of the Wright-Patt AFB Honor Guard. “It gives you the opportunity to broaden the leadership and management skills you learn in Professional Military Education because of the diversity of active, Reserve, National Guard members you encounter within the unit. I believe this is one of the most rewarding ways to serve and give back to the Air Force and those that paved the road for us.”
Despite the long hours and occasional severe weather, each member of the Wright-Patt Honor Guard lives by their creed of representing every member, past and present, of the United States Air Force.
To schedule the Wright Patterson AFB Honor Guard, call 937-257-8964 and request a funeral honors request form.
Story courtesy of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.