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.


 
 

 

VA implements new online tool for military members, Families, transitioning out

In conjunction with the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program, the new Veterans Employment Center, or VEC, is the federal government’s single authoritative online resource for connecting transitioning service members, veterans and their Families to meaningful career opportunities. The VEC is the first government-wide product that brings together a reputable cadre of public and...
 
 

ACAP has new name, now Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program

As part of the Soldier for Life Program that was introduced last year, the Army Career and Alumni Program, or ACAP, has changed names to the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program, effective immediately. In an effort to better reflect the new direction of Army transition with the Soldier for Life Program, Army Chief...
 
 
Courtesy Photo

Army has ally in Natick lab

Courtesy Photo Secretary of the Army John McHugh, left, learns about the hypobaric chamber at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine during a March 15, 2012, visit to Natick Soldier Systems Center in Massach...
 

 

Monsoon start means break from hot weather — keep safety in mind this summer

In Arizona, as in other regions of the world including India and Thailand, we experience a monsoon, a season of high temperatures, high winds, and high moisture, resulting in potentially deadly weather. The term “monsoon” comes from the Arabic “mausim,” meaning “season” or “wind shift.” Even though rain doesn’t typically begin in the southern Arizona...
 
 

Melanoma – silent but deadly

Do you love having fun in the sun? If you do, it is essential you protect your skin from exposure to harmful sun rays known to cause skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, more...
 
 

Civilian of the Month

Rick Davis Agency: Engineer & Instrumentation Branch within Intelligence Electronic Warfare Test Directorate, U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground Position and duties: Electronic technician; provides technical support for testing new Army Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Systems. AISRS does all operational testing here for the military intelligence systems by conducting a test and r...
 




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