Andersen Blue Knights Honor Guard team stands sharp, crisp, and motionless

Andersen Blue Knights Honor Guard team stands sharp, crisp, and motionless

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot
36th Wing

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- At Andersen Air Force Base, there is a group of individuals who are carefully chosen for their professionalism and conduct to perform as base honor guard members.

Airmen who maintain their uniform in the highest standards and are recommended by their leadership are the ones typically chosen to be a part of the Andersen Blue Knights.

"Being in the honor guard, you hold yourself to a higher standard," said Senior Airman Zackary Mannino, 36th Medical Operations Squadron. "Perfection is the only way we practice and perform."

While the Andersen Blue Knights Honor Guard members perform duties like the presentation of colors for changes of command and award ceremonies, their primary mission is to provide final honors to current, retired and veteran service members when needed.

"I love performing the final honors for veterans, retirees, or active duty," Mannino said. "I still get goose bumps at every funeral when I hear 'Taps' being played. The pride you get from performing at funerals is beyond description."

Since the honor guard strives to perform everything with perfection, they train meticulously every Wednesday.

Members perform a single movement repeatedly until every member executes it correctly. After perfecting every movement, the team runs through the sequence in its entirety.

Although the guardsmen train for performances, known as details, all members start with the basics. When they first enter the base honor guard they'll learn the standing manuals - how they march and perform facing movements.

"Everything from basic training is thrown out the window because we do things differently," Mannino said. "It's slower and looks more ceremonious. This is where we are picky with the perfection part, because it's the foundation of what we do."

Next, the team is taught the proper way to present the colors. Since presenting the colors is one of the honor guard's most requested details, it is taught first. When learning how to perform the detail correctly, they are taught how to present the colors indoors and outdoors.

Afterward, the Airmen learn the firing party and funeral sequences, which might not occur as often but each ceremony serves its own purpose.

Before performing at ceremonies, every member must pass skills evaluations for each sequence. The evaluation process is extensive and requires dedication and participation from every ceremonial guardsman.

Evaluations help guardsmen prove their abilities and get used to performing in front of a crowd. Assessments also help the rest of the team build trust as they observe how each Airman performs under pressure. Every member watches the evaluations and honor guard trainers get together afterward to decide if the guardsman passes or needs to be re-evaluated.

"I am proud to say I'm a part of the honor guard family and we always need more team members," said Senior Airman Alexander Barrett, 644th Combat Communications Squadron. "I recommend that Airmen who are qualified to join at least do one term. It's an awesome experience and a great method for professional development."

For Airmen interested in joining this team, contact Staff Sgt. Lemuel Oliver, NCO in charge of honor guard, at lemuel.oliver@us.af.mil for more information or to get an application.

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