Honorable mention

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Their mission is to act as representatives for Airmen to both the American public and the world.

They are guardians of a legacy which includes promoting the Air Force mission, protecting its standards, perfecting its image and preserving the heritage of the most powerful air power in the world.

"The men and women chosen to be ceremonial guardsmen are among the sharpest in the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Raymond Powell, United States Air Force Honor Guard commander, in a statement on the official Honor Guard website. "Ceremonial guardsmen are the 'public face of the Air Force' across the United States and the globe."

The United States Air Force Honor Guard has served the Air Force since its earliest years as the representative and embodiment of all Airmen in ceremonies and events. The traditions and standards passed down from the Air Force Honor Guard are ingrained in the details and practices of the base Honor Guard located at Ellsworth.

"The Honor Guard means honor and the pursuit of excellence," said Capt. Bishane Whitmore, 28th Bomb Wing Honor Guard officer in-charge. "It means devoting time to ensure base and Rapid City agency events are supported with dignity and pride."

Captain Whitmore said it takes an Airman with a good work ethic, strong discipline, willingness to volunteer, ability to adapt in adverse situations and sense of honor in order to succeed as an honor guardsman.

"The Honor Guard demands the best of its members not only during practice and details, but 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "Those who know you are the Honor Guard will expect you to carry the sense of pride and excellence above but not separate from standard military standards."

For many Ellsworth honor guardsmen, being a part of the base Honor Guard seems more of a calling than an assignment.

"Being a part of the Ellsworth Air Force Base Honor Guard allows me to carry on a proud Air Force tradition - a piece of heritage," said Staff Sgt. Thomas C. Waters, 28 BW Honor Guard NCO in-charge. "It has also instilled a great amount of pride for not only myself, but the Honor Guard, the 28 BW and the Air Force."

During their time with the Honor Guard, both Sergeant Waters and Captain Whitmore have learned several valuable lessons. However, one of the most prevalent lessons has been how the preservation of discipline can decrease the effects of a mistake.

"Rarely do things go as planned due to so many external factors," Captain Whitmore said. "If you make a mistake, but maintain your bearing and professionalism, most people never notice. When you lose your discipline is when people notice something is not correct."

Captain Whitmore recalls an incident where his military bearing was put to the test - the first funeral he attended as part of the Ellsworth Honor Guard.

"I had been to funerals before, but being an outside person looking in and performing honors are completely different experiences," he said. "Being the officer in-charge of the event, I had to hand over the flag to the next of kin. Having to give the flag over, talk to the wife while she was in tears over the loss of a loved one and maintain my military bearing was extremely difficult."

With the challenges of maintaining military bearing and discipline during incredibly emotional events a routine part of the lives of honor guardsman, Captain Whitmore and the rest of the Ellsworth Honor Guard continue to be inspirational examples for the rest of the Airmen on base and look for their own forms of motivation which push them to do better.

"I look to my family and my mentors for inspiration," Captain Whitmore said. "In both cases they push me to continue to excel and be better than I am today."