Luke honor guardsmen get relief from AZ sun

Photo by Airman 1st Class PEDRO MOTA

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard members are getting relief from the Arizona heat from sunshades that were installed June 10 outside the honor guard building.

Honor guardsmen train for hours daily to maintain a high level of professionalism for funerals, ceremonies and presentation of colors. Installation of the sunshades has given honor guardsmen the ability to practice longer while helping them to sharpen focus.

“When the sun is beating down on you, you tend to focus on the heat and how hot you are, making it difficult to focus on the task at hand,” said Senior Airman Ryan Baez, 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief and lead honor guardsman. “With these sunshades, guardsmen can be outside longer and train more effectively for three to four hours at a time without the risk of becoming a heat casualty.”

Training is crucial for new Airmen replacing honor guardsmen who have completed their commitment to the honor guard and returned to their units.

“Without the shades, training sessions performed while in direct sun were limited to 20 to 30 minutes before stopping for water breaks,” Baez said. “That would be pushing it if the temperature exceeded the norm and became extreme. Training as a rookie takes eight hours a day outside for the first two weeks. With sunshades, it is now possible to do all year long.”

Once a guardsman passes rookie month, the official journey begins.

“When honor guardsmen are able to get the training they need, they are able to present themselves professionally in those special and meaningful ceremonies,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew Green, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment apprentice and honor guard flight trainer. “Sometimes these ceremonies are the only look people get of the military, so performing at our best is crucial to leaving a professional and respectful image of the United States Air Force.”