Preserving Air Force Heritage

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jacob Stephens
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

The United States Air Force prides itself on its history, heritage and tradition. It is on today’s Airmen to carry on the legacy of those who served before them.


The Airmen assigned to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Honor Guard do this through their support of memorials, ceremonies and other official events.


“Our mission is to provide military honors to service members,” said Tech. Sgt. John Crona, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Honor Guard program manager. “We present the colors, fold the flag, play taps and perform other functions at the different events we support.”


As the second busiest honor guard team in Air Combat Command, they support over 1,200 events per year across an area of more than 49,000 square miles.


“I had always wanted to be a part of the honor guard as a way for me to give back,” said Senior Airman Mercedes Rodriguez, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base honor guardsman. “My father was part of the honor guard and it makes me happy to be able to honor him and others who have served.”


Honor guard Airmen are selected from different units across DM and support the program for six months at a time. Over the six-month period, they learn new skills, network with those outside their assigned career field and experience a new mission set.


“It has been amazing to see a different side of the Air Force outside of my typical job,” Rodriguez said. “It reminds me why I wear the uniform and makes me proud to be part of the honor guard team.”


Honor guardsmen can be recognized by their special uniform, which includes an honor guard emblem and no nametape. The special appearance is associated with their clean and professional presentations, which are a result of countless hours of training.


“We work hard to ensure that every family and event get the same quality of service,” Crona said. “The Airmen go through a two-week initial training course to qualify as an honor guardsman and then continue to train throughout their time here to ensure they perfect their movements.”


This training is extensive, continual and targeted. Honor guardsmen are required to have intricate attention to detail, precise movements and the ability to maintain military bearing in all situations in order to fulfill the requirements of their mission.


“We stand on the shoulders of giants,” Crona said. “We recognize heroes from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as current service members. To be able to recognize these heroes, pay respects and provide closure to the families is something like I have never experienced and is one of the most gratifying things I have ever done.”


Air Force heritage and traditions have been built and solidified by Airmen since the Air Force’s inception in 1947, and even before as part of the Army Air Corps. The honor guardsmen at DM are charged to carry on this legacy every time they don their uniform. Through their practice and dedication, they continue to precisely execute this rich, meaningful mission.