Local

April 19, 2013

Select Honor Guard delivers with demanding presence

Soldiers in the Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard prepare a flag before a full honors memorial. This accomplishes two things at once: it makes sure the flag is folded properly for the ceremony ahead of time and it helps the Soldiers to practice.

We see them at funerals and at ceremonies on post, but behind the perfectly pressed blue and dark green uniforms, the Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard keeps busy. Seven days a week, rain or shine, its members handle the honors for fallen retirees, veterans and active duty Soldiers in addition to ceremonies on post involving the garrison and state flags.

Not only are they responsible for carrying out honors in Arizona, but in Nevada, New Mexico and Southern California as well.

“Most of our guys work as if they are deployed,” Sgt. 1st Class James Budden said.

Towards the end of the week, the Honor Guard is scheduled for three to four ceremonies on average, but on rare occasions, its Soldiers will see eight to nine memorials scheduled in one day.

As busy as the schedule gets, Honor Guard Soldiers are only given this duty for six months before they are transferred out of the duty. According to Budden, this is due to the unit having a rotational basis.

Honor Guard Soldiers are chosen for this special duty either by interview or unit selection.

Honor Guard Soldiers open a flag that will be given to the Family later during a ceremony. They arrive an hour before to practice.

No matter how the Soldier is chosen, Honor Guard selectees like Staff Sgt. James Barr considers it a highlight in his career. He mentions how everyday he is performing a duty, one that has a significant meaning to not only the Garrison, but to Family members and the general public.

Once selected, the newest members of the Honor Guard start 10 days of training. During this time the Soldiers first learn flag folding. Next, they go through training for a memorial service where two Honor Guard Soldiers are present for the cremated remains of the fallen and then for the services where a casket is used.

The final training involves getting the Soldier ready for a memorial with full honors. Normally for a funeral service, three Honor Guard Soldiers give the honors for a fallen veteran while seven Soldiers perform full honor duties for fallen retirees and active duty Soldiers.

At a memorial with full honors, if it takes place at the Post Cemetery, the Soldiers will first stop by Brown Parade Field to lower the flag at half staff and stop again after the service to raise the flag to full staff again. At the memorial, they perform the gun salute, firing shots with M-16 rifles. While not in use, the guns are placed in a pyramid-shape, called stack arms, which puts them in a ready position.

As soon as the last shot is fired, “Taps” is played on the bugle by a Soldier from the 62nd Army Band or an Honor Guard Soldier selected for bugle duty. Budden said sometimes one of his Soldiers plays the bugle to not over-exhaust or over-use the band Soldiers with as many memorial as they go to.

Seven Soldiers of the Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard perform a gun salute at a full honors ceremony. After the shots are fired, a Fort Huachuca Band Soldier plays taps on the bugle.

The final aspect of a full honor ceremony is the flag presentation. The flag is unfolded by all seven Soldiers and folded back into the triangular shape. The Soldiers positioned at the end of the line of folding work diligently to make sure the flag has three distinct pointed corners.

Also important to the flag folding tradition, no red stripes can be visible. This is due to the red representing the color of blood. Once folded, the flag is presented to the next of kin or appropriate Family member.

Honor Guard Soldiers arrive one hour early to every memorial. This allows them time to practice and meet with the funeral director to learn important aspects of the memorial. The time also allows them to meet with the Family when they first arrive.

Barr said they work closely with the Family to ensure they are an important part of the ceremony and their needs and desires are addressed.

When the Honor Guard is not performing honors, they practice. On average, the Soldiers will practice 20 hours a week to perfect the presentation the public sees. According to Staff Sgt. David Sawyer, synchronization is important. If a Soldier turns the wrong way or takes a step too soon or too late, “it takes away the magic.”

Not only do they practice for memorials, but take the time to practice for ceremonies as well. Some aspects of practicing for a ceremony include preparing for color guard and cannon duties.

Despite the heavy schedule at times, Fort Huachuca’s Select Honor Guard practices to never miss a detail.

Honor Guard Soldiers get ready to practice color guard duties. Before they can begin, flag holsters must be adjusted and secured to the Soldiers to make sure all flags are at the same height.




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


 
 

 
Courtesy photo by United Kingdom Ministry of Defense

Army researchers develop pocket-sized aerial surveillance device

Courtesy photo by United Kingdom Ministry of Defense A British Soldier holds a Prox Dynamics’ PD-100 Black Hornet, a palm-sized miniature helicopter weighing only 16 grams. Researchers with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Resear...
 
 

Active duty Service members must change Roth TSP contributions

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Active duty members of the Army, Air Force or Navy making dollar-amount Roth contributions to a Thrift Savings Plan account should know that these deductions will stop on Jan. 31, unless action is taken. “The Roth [Thrift Savings Plan] contributions are going from a dollar figure to a percentage of pay,” said...
 
 

THANKSGIVING DAY SAFETY MESSAGE

Thanksgiving is a day set aside to pause, reflect and give thanks for the gifts of peace, freedom and opportunity we share as Americans. Holiday weekends provide a well-earned respite from work and an opportunity for travel to visit Family and friends. However, increased travel means increased exposure to the hazards associated with heavy holiday...
 

 
Defense Commissary Agency

Commissary Value Brand returns for more savings

Defense Commissary Agency Starting in December, the Fort Huachuca Commissary will add Commissary Value Brands to its shelves. FORT LEE, Va. – In response to growing patron demand for products comparable to the low-cost privat...
 
 

FH visitors, Civilian workers can dine at Exchange facilities

At military installations across the globe, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service provides a taste of home to Soldiers, Airmen and their Families. While rules governing who can buy merchandise at exchanges often apply to a select few, anyone can dine in exchange restaurants or pick up grab-and-go fare from Express locations. The Fort...
 
 

Chapel serves up community generosity

From left, Staff Sgt. Daniel Carnaghi, 62nd Army Band; Chaplain (Lt. Col.-P) Kim Norwood, senior Garrison chaplain; his wife, Cindy Norwood; Jo Moore, Outreach Ministries coordinator; and Spc. Benjamin Sepulveda, Main Post Chapel chaplain’s assistant, prepare to distribute turkeys to Fort Huachuca Families in need Thursday at the Main Post Chapel. Thanks to generous donations...
 




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