Air Force

June 13, 2014

LRS Airman finds passion in honor guard

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Senior Airman DEVANTE WILLIAMS
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Master Sgt. Keith Cooper, 56th Force Support Squadron Honor Guard NCO in charge, shows new guardsmen how to properly flare their hands June 4 during a firing party at Luke Air Force Base. The honor guard’s primary mission is to provide military honors at funerals for veterans and retirees.

Few Airmen are chosen to represent the Air Force. Fewer are chosen to lead those Airmen. One of these Airmen is Master Sgt. Keith Cooper, 56th Force Support Squadron Honor Guard superintendent.

Cooper was born Oct. 26, 1973 and joined the Air Force Aug. 18, 1992, continuing his family’s legacy of military service.

“It’s a family tradition,” Cooper said. “Everybody in my family joins the military, whether it’s the Air Force, Marines or the Navy.”

His current job in the Air Force is with the 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron as an equipment custodian. He found out about the base honor guard superintendent slot opening from Luke’s base paper, the Thunderbolt. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I saw the ad in the base newspaper and put in an application for it immediately,” Cooper said. “I was scheduled for an interview and about two weeks later, found out I was accepted.”

Cooper was sent to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, for five days of training. He was trained how to manage the base honor guard program and also some of the basic honor guard movements to teach to the new Airmen.

While he enjoys being an honor guard superintendent and helping Airmen succeed, he also has a job outside the Air Force, and that’s taking care of his 9-year-old son.

“This will be my first year having full custody,” he said. “It’s been a trying time, but I’m glad to have him.”

It’s very difficult to balance both military and civilian life, but Cooper handles it well and continues to make improvements.
“Patience is key,” he said. “I can’t do stuff on my own. I will always need help in some way, shape or form.”

Cooper has been base honor guard superintendent for more than two years of a three-year special duty. While being a superintendent is no easy task, he enjoys working with the Airmen and leading them to represent the Air Force.

“My best moment as an honor guard superintendent was at the annual awards banquet,” he said. “About 30 members of honor guard showed up to support their fellow Airmen. Also, to hear everyone in honor guard say their chant was pretty awesome. That is one of the moments in honor guard that I won’t forget.”

He has earned respect from his peers and also from the honor guard Airmen he supervises.

“From the first day I joined honor guard, I could see how pumped up about the Air Force he is,” said Airman 1st Class James Hensley, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs. “He’s very involved in the Airmen that he leads, and it really shows in the training involved for honor guard. If you have trouble getting a movement down, he takes you to the side and shows you one-on-one how to properly execute that movement.”




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