Base Honor Guard begins training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Denise Nevins
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The Ellsworth Honor Guard, an elite group charged with conducting various ceremonies, began its annual Initial Skills Training at the Pride Hangar Sept. 14.

IST is a two-week course where Honor Guard members are trained to perform military honors, including those rendered for deceased veterans, retirees and active-duty members. Any Honor Guard member can participate, however, IST is geared to new members.

While the Honor Guard primarily provides services for funerals, the Color Guard details also perform at ceremonies such as retirements and changes of command.

"We also perform for a lot of functions that are in the community - hockey games, rodeos and parades," said Staff Sgt. Bobby Pantfoeder, 28th Force Support Squadron Honor Guard NCO in charge.

Pantfoeder said performing at community events is important for the Honor Guard because it helps foster a positive Air Force presence.

"Our mission is absolutely, 100 percent community outreach," said 1st Lt. Mark Callan, 28th Operations Support Squadron airfield operations officer. "We are paying respect to those who have served."

From funerals to parades, performing at events requires Honor Guard members to be mentally sound, with military bearing a key element.

"Military bearing is by far the most important characteristic to have when being a member of any Honor Guard," Pantfoeder said. "In some cases, you could be the last military member a family sees when their loved one passes."

In addition to Honor Guard Airmen being a part of ceremonies and community events, they also get the opportunity to lead in certain instances.

"I hope to lead something big in my future with the Honor Guard," said Airman 1st Class Josh Kropenski, 28th Communications Squadron cyber transport technician. "Being a part of the Honor Guard helps me realize that I am a part of something greater than myself."

Pantfoeder said although the Honor Guard training can be challenging, the rewards that come from being a member are worth it.

"The most rewarding aspect of being an Honor Guardsman is the opportunity to give back to those fallen members who paved the way for us to be where we are today," Pantfoeder said.