Air Force

November 16, 2012

The Ceremonial Guardsman

Tags:
Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


Basic Military Training can be tough and stressful, and it was no different for Kellen Ferguson. His days were spent dusting corners, tightening sheets and creating e-folds. It was a monotonous routine until one day the trainees were privy to a U.S. Air Force Honor Guard demonstration that set him on the path his Air Force career would follow for the next six years.

“I was lucky enough that, while I was in basic, they came to do a recruiting trip,” said Staff Sgt. Kellen Ferguson, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance and analysis apprentice. “They did a four-man drill team and the first thing that popped into my head when I saw it was ‘I want to do that’.

After graduating from BMT, Sergeant Ferguson traveled to the Honor Guard compound on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., for technical school. There his regimented training continued.

“Tech school was like basic training times five,” Ferguson said. “We were working very closely with the instructors. They lived there, so they could see you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week if they wanted to.”

Coming to the Honor Guard straight from BMT meant that Airman Ferguson had to forget all the drill movements he’d just learned.
“We had to wipe regular Air Force drill movements out of our minds,” Ferguson said. “In Honor Guard, you stand at attention with your feet completely together instead of at a 45 degree angle. Your knuckles are parallel to the ground instead of cocked forward. They’d show us how the Air Force does parade rest, and then how the Honor Guard does parade rest. To this day I still have a hard time remembering the regular movements to a command.”

U.S. Air Force Honor Guard technical school students train for more than a month. During that time, a lot of emphasis is put on grooming standards.

“During our lunch hour we’d have to run to the chow hall and eat, and then run back to our dorm rooms to make our uniforms perfect again,” Ferguson said. “And this was during the time of BDU’s, so getting a uniform up to standards took a lot of work. Sometimes you’d have to shave again during lunch as well.”

Sergeant Ferguson graduated from tech school November 2004. He was placed into a ceremonial flight as a member of the firing party.

The Honor Guard Firing Party is a seven-man team. Their duty is to fire three volleys in perfect unison during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery. The volleys, often referred to as the “21-gun salute”, are meant to honor the fallen. Depending on their schedule, the firing party trains two to six hours every day.

Sergeant Ferguson was a member of the Firing Party for his entire AFHG career. During that time he was a Firing Party member, FP trainer, head FP trainer, NCOIC of FP, standardization and evaluation board for FP.

“We did a funeral once in the middle of a storm,” Ferguson said. “It rolled in while we were waiting in formation and it was bad. My guys hats were getting blown off, we were buffered by wind from every direction while trying to stand at attention and it was pouring rain. But in the middle of all that disorder, when they began the sequence for us to start military honors, every single man in that firing party fired at the exact same time all three times. There is no greater feeling than knowing you did your job perfectly and sent that military member off with perfect last honors.”

For six years Sergeant Ferguson was a member of the elite Air Force Honor Guard. He moved up the ranks from Airman basic to staff sergeant, and those years made a significant impact on the Airman he is today.

“It was the best part of my Air Force career,” Ferguson said. “When I made it through tech school, I knew that I was going to get to be a part of so many great things. And I was; I’ve done presidential inaugurations, I’ve fired volleys for an active-duty funeral in an alley because it was the only way we could get a good vantage point to the front of the church, and I was head trainer for the first all Air Force firing line at a joint funeral. Being in the Honor Guard was a privilege and something I’ll never forget.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Draft Total Force Training Environmental Assessment available for public review

The revised draft Environmental Assessment for Total Force Training (formerly Operation Snowbird) was released by Air Combat Command here today. The release initiates a 30-day public comment period, which ends October 23.  Substantive public comments submitted by that date will be considered before the Air Force makes any determinations on the proposal.  These comments will...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Scott Ash)

AF signs Total-Force Aircrew Management charter

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Senior Air Force leaders signed a Total Force Aircrew Management charter Sept. 18, during the Aircrew Summit at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Chief of Staf...
 
 

Airmen must revalidate dependents by Dec. 31

By Dec. 31, every Airman will be required to provide their servicing finance office with documentation for all dependents as part of Air Force audit readiness efforts. This one-time, Air Force-wide recertification process will allow the Air Force to validate Airmen’s basic allowance for housing entitlements, ensuring every dollar of the $5.4 billion the Air...
 

 

Phased rollout to improve enlisted evaluation system

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force chief of enlisted force policy outlined the implementation of the new enlisted evaluation and promotion systems at the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 17. Developed in 1968, and implemented two years later, the existing Weighted Airman Promotion System has been in...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force Photos by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron: Maintenance Flight

The 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron’s Maintenance Flight performs phase inspections on A-10C Thunderbolt IIs after 500 flight hours. During a phase inspection, the A-10 is given a complete in-depth inspection, searching ...
 
 

Air Force Enlisted Village: Not just a place to live, a place to call home

I first visited the Air Force Enlisted Village as a young first sergeant in 2009, when I was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. I went to visit with the Tyndall Active Airmen’s Association, Tyndall’s E-1 to E-4 Professional Association, and was amazed at what I saw. This was also the first time I...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin