Respect, Service, Honor

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Hada
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
For some, seeing an Air Force Honor Guardsmen perform a flag-folding ceremony or execute drill can leave a lasting impression while providing a glimpse of what the military embodies.

Those who serve in Ellsworth Air Force Base's Honor Guard represent all Airmen - past and present - showcasing professionalism and military tradition at each military funeral as well as other events they support.

"Some of these movements may look easy or it doesn't look like it takes much to perform, but it requires hours and thousands of repetitions to make it look perfect every time," said Senior Airman James Glass, 28th Maintenance Squadron aircrew egress technician. "It's important to look perfect because we are the last image families have of the military during their loved ones funeral."

Glass said precision is key to conducting a flawless ceremony and success stems from continuous training.

"When it comes to ceremonies and funerals, the Ellsworth Honor Guard's mission is to be ready, look sharp and maintain professionalism through attention to detail," said Staff Sgt. Bobby Pantfoeder, 28th Force Support Squadron Ellsworth Honor Guard NCO in charge.

"Our job is to give back to those who served before us," said Pantfoeder, one of the 32 Airmen currently serving on the Ellsworth Honor Guard. "We enforce traditions and standards a lot of Airmen may have forgotten or aren't familiar with."

The initial training class is a 120 hour-course where Honor Guard trainees learn drills and maneuvers such as flag folding, casket carries and firing party movements over a two week period. Following graduation, members practice every Monday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Honor Guard is something that I've wanted to do for a while," Glass said. "I couldn't think of a better way to dedicate my time [than] paying respect to those who served before us."

Glass added that our warfighters have one of the most unique jobs in the world and dedicate years of their lives to their country. He says Honor Guard is here to honor them when they are laid to rest.

The sense of purpose that comes with serving in the Honor Guard makes that time worthwhile, he added.

"Leaving a good impression can be done by executing commands with perfect precision, but it is also about a bigger picture," Glass said. "Showing family members the Air Force cares about its service members and their sacrifices for their country is top priority."

Glass said serving in the Ellsworth Honor Guard has been a life-changing experience.

"When you are among other honor guard members who dedicate their time to practice and perform, you have no choice but to want to be disciplined and humbled, with a genuine respect for the comrades who have fallen for our country," Glass said.

As an Ellsworth Honor Guardsman, Airmen are responsible for conducting ceremonies as a part of funerals, retirements, weddings and other special events.

Pantfoeder encourages Air Force members to experience being a member of the honor guard at least once in their career, because even if they just come out to see a training class, Airmen can learn a lot about what honor guard is all about.

For more information, call the Honor Guard office at (605) 385-1186.