Four words drive 108th Wing honor guard members
By Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez, 108th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 06, 2011
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- In the practice room of the 108th Wing's Honor Guard's office, there are various custom flags, banners, patches and other paraphernalia used by its members. A lone trophy case displaying the awards, thank-you notes and trophies that have been presented to these volunteers are also in the room.
But walking outside into the hallway of the practice room, one can see the four inspirational posters that these members hold dear.
"I was originally volun-told to do this," said Staff Sgt. Isaiah Thomas, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 108th Wing Honor Guard's detail. "But now I am starting to see and understand the real reason behind this."
And the reasons are within the four inspirational posters on the hallway that leads to their practice room. Each poster is inscribed with a single word: 'Respect', 'Discipline', 'Precision' and 'Patriotism'.
The honor guard detail are there so they may serve as ambassadors to the public, present a positive image of the unit, and assist with recruiting effort. In addition, these honor guards are a ceremonial unit, and are composed of volunteers who are carefully screened for their physical ability and dexterity.
While one of their primary roles is to provide funeral honors for fallen comrades, they also serve as "guardians of the colors" by displaying and escorting the national and state flag on ceremonial occasions at official functions.
And with outmost respect these volunteers conduct the ceremonies, standing at attention for hours without moving.
"Originally I was intrigued by drill and ceremony when I first came out of basic training," said Airman 1st Class Paula Daniels. "Now I am honored when we attend funerals and 9/11 ceremonies."
With discipline they volunteer for this, as this is an additional duty. Only those persons who are highly motivated and maintain exceptionally high standards of appearance and conduct are likely to be considered.
"Members have to ensure they are up to par with their CDCs, and they keep current with their job training and duties," said Thomas. "In the Active Duty, honor guard is your job, but in the Guard, you have to know the honor guard stuff, plus your job."
It is that discipline that helps them during ceremonies. The discipline to stand still during the ceremony and "find time to practice after they have completed their work," said Thomas.
And practice is what keeps them sharp and precise with their movements when they conduct ceremonies. Precision is how their uniforms are worn. With each medal exactly centered on their chest, their dress shoes highly polished and their headgear precisely over their eyes. No detail is too small.
Proud and patriotic they hold high the state and U.S. flag during these ceremonies. Even as the weight of these flags bear down on their arms and shoulders.
"This takes a lot out of you," said Thomas. "But at the end, when the event is over and everyone is saying 'thank you', it's really all worth it."