Greene County News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — National Flag Day is celebrated annually on June 14 to show respect for the flag and what it represents – The United States’s independence and unity as a nation. The flag has become a powerful symbol of Americanism.
Since 1777, the U.S. flag design has been modified officially 26 times and for 47 years the flag had 48 stars. In 1959, President Eisenhower ordered the 50-star flag. Robert Heft of Ohio was selected to design the 50-star American flag out of 1,500 submitted designs.
When displaying the flag, it is to be flown from sunrise to sunset. If the flag is displayed at night, then it is to be illuminated. The flag is to be raised quickly and lowered ceremoniously, and no other flag is to fly above it, according to the U.S. flag customs and procedures.
Embracing the flag, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base honor guard participates at formal and ceremonial events, such as a military funerals and parades.
“Last year, we served 4,200 events within 210,000 square miles,” said Tech. Sgt. Keith Watson, 88th Air Base Wing, NCO in charge of Wright-Patterson honor guard. “We serve all of Ohio and Michigan, half of Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia and two counties in Pennsylvania.”
“Requests for the Honor Guard, for our area of responsibility, are processed at Wright-Patt and depending on the availably and location of the request, we may coordinate with augmentees – Air National Guardsmen, and Air Force Reservists at other bases to participate,” said Watson.
A visitor driving or walking on a military base may notice a retreat ceremony taking place in the vicinity of the flagstaff at the end of the duty day. When the flag is flying on the flagstaff, the military retreat ceremony signals the end of the official duty day and serves as a ceremony for paying respect to the flag.
According to the Honor Guard, the military retreat ceremony consists of the band and troops positioned facing the flagstaff. The commander calls for parade rest then faces the flagstaff and orders the band leader to sound retreat.
The band plays the retreat and the junior members assume the position of attention and move to the flagstaff to arrange the halyards for lowering of the flag then the flag security detail execute parade rest in unison.
After the band finishes, the commander faces about and then commands squadron, attention, and then commands present, arms.
The band plays the national anthem. The flag security detail lowers the flag. When the last note of the music is played, the commander faces about, gives the troops order, arms and then faces to the front.
The flag security detail folds the flag. When the flag is folded, the flag security detail, with the senior enlisted on the right and the flagbearer in the center, marches to a position three paces from the commander. The senior enlisted salutes and reports the flag is secured. The retreat ceremony is finished.
The flag, often referred to as “Old Glory,” represents all people of America. It is America’s strength in honor as dignified in the stars and stripes of the flag.
Story courtesy of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.