WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – They honor the fallen, and their primary mission is to represent Airmen to the American public and the world.
You can trace the beginning of the Honor Guard back to 1948, now all these years later, the selectively manned unit is more than 300 strong.
Members of the McConnell Air Force Base Honor Guard said the special honor means so much to them.
“I honor those members who have laid the pathway for me,” Sgt. Kenneth Milton said.
The Honor Guard units participate in multiple funerals, and ceremonies each day, and on average they are part of about 3,500 events each year.
“The Honor Guard is responsible for paying honors to service members who have served honorable in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard,” Sgt. Milton said.
The McConnell Air Force Base Honor Guard helps honor their fellow service members at ceremonies in Kansas and Oklahoma.
“You get a bigger picture of what matters in life when you see somebody leave and how much they impacted the people around them,” Airman Germaine Lishman said. “It makes you want to become better so that when your times comes, people feel the same way.”
Each qualification team performs a specific function at ceremonies and funerals.
The color team displays and guards the United States flag, Air Force flag, and flags representing the many offices of visiting dignitaries, as well as every country’s flag.
The body bearers escort and carry flag-draped remains to burial sites and fold the flag for presentation to a family member.
The three-volley salute is executed by the firing party element with seven-man teams firing in unison.
The parade flight marches in official ceremonies from funeral processions to Presidential Inaugurations.
“I hope you would see we take extreme pride in what we do and are truly blessed to be in the position we are in,” Sgt. Milton said. “We don’t take our freedom for granted.”
The Honor Guard is under the scrutiny of the highest-ranking officials of the United States and foreign nations, including royalty.
“Those are sad moments that the families are experiencing so to be there and be that strong will to represent and show respect to the families, it means the world to us,” Sgt. Milton said. “It means the world to me.”