GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Military members in distinctive uniform slowly and precisely fold the flag. Family members gathered to mourn their loved one watch as the team honors the individual who served before them. The folded flag is ceremoniously passed to the family with a quiet word of thanks from the noncommissioned officer in charge.
To honor with dignity. What does that mean? Depending on who you ask you get a variety of answers. To the Goodfellow Honor Guard it means taking time to memorize the maneuvers needed to perform Military Honors, Posting the Colors and POW/MIA ceremonies for Goodfellow and surrounding counties.
Members of the Honor Guard give up their free time to practice or perform duties while most other military members are enjoying their evenings or weekends. They travel all over Texas to perform a variety of ceremonies, in rain or shine, they go where they are needed to honor those individuals who have gone before us.
Before becoming a member, interested individuals must first complete a week-long training course where they learn maneuvers that they will perform. Being in the Honor Guard is not taken lightly, individuals commit to a year of being on the team.
Considered as the face of the base that they are a part of, the Honor Guard is also seen as the face of the Air Force, presenting some families with their first, last or only glimpse of members in uniform. Knowing that, they take pride in being some of the sharpest looking Airmen on base.
“One portion of our course is an hour long class on uniforms,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Kidd, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Goodfellow Honor Guard. “Not just our ceremonials and how everything is positioned, but also taking care of our everyday uniforms, we should be the sharpest looking Airmen setting an example all over base.”
The initial training course includes the basics to all of the ceremonies that the guardsmen may be a part of. Then throughout their time being a member, individuals will continue to practice the skills they are taught. From wearing the uniform to the subtle differences in movements made when performing with the Joint Service Color Guard.
“Part of our training is going through movements that are different between our ceremonies and the Joint Service Color Guard,” said Kidd. “There is just enough of a difference to throw someone off if they aren’t prepared, but we rehearse so we can be as sharp and crisp as possible.”
After their initial training, members of the guard have weekly practice to focus on particular sequences or maneuvers to maintain muscle memory.
A recent change to the Goodfellow Honor Guard is the option for service members who are waiting to start class or go to their first duty station, commonly known as casuals, to perform honor guard duties while they wait.
“I really enjoy it,” said Airman 1st Class Israel Giribaldi-Mallada, 315th Training Squadron student waiting on class. “It feels so much better doing something that means something to others instead of other things.”
Students who are participating in the program don’t have to worry about balancing technical school and honor guard duties once starting class.
“The Air Force mission and needs always come first, I will use the extra help when I can, but once they start class that is their focus,” said Kidd. “Same if an individual is tasked to deploy, they are excused from their commitment, if they want to start again once they return then we welcome them.”
Kidd reminisced about the first time he ever saw a base honor guard perform military honors.
“It was at my grandfather’s funeral,” said Kidd. “I would later find out he was in the honor guard as well, it was just awesome to see them be so precise and crisp. Now I get to follow in his footsteps.”
From presenting the best face of the base and the Air Force to families and loved ones of service members who have gone before, to being the sharpest Airmen on base, the Goodfellow honor guard is always striving to do more and be better.
“The biggest thing I love about the honor guard is that it is a chance to give back to the community,” said Kidd. “You also get to hear a piece of Air Force history from such a personal perspective, it re-invigorates me every time I get to go out and honor someone who has served before me.”