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United States Air Force Base Honor Guard: Wikis


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United States Air Force Honor Guard

A U.S. Air Force Ceremonial Guardsman stands at ceremonial-at-ease during the dedication of the United States Air Force Memorial Oct. 14, 2006, in Arlington, Virginia.

The United States Air Force Honor Guard is the official ceremonial unit of the United States Air Force. It's primary mission is to represent the Air Force at all public and official ceremonies within the National Capital Region and abroad when directed by the Military District of Washington, Headquarters U.S. Air Force or subordinate commands. These ceremonies include those for visiting dignitaries and military officials, funeral ceremonies for deceased Air Force personnel and their dependents, and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. It also provides color guards for official White House receptions and other state and military occasions. It must be noted that the USAF Honor Guard is a completely separate unit that is permanently assigned to Bolling AFB, Washington DC and should not be confused with the honor guard teams that are assigned to every U. S. Air Force base world-wide who are selected from the various units that comprise those bases. The ceremonial uniforms worn are identical with the following exceptions: members assigned to the USAF Honor Guard wear white shirts, full-size anodized medals, a chrome-plated Honor Guard badge, and a left shoulder arc reading "USAF Honor Guard" while members assigned to a Base Honor Guard wear standard-issue Air Force blue shirts, ribbons, a colored enamel Honor Guard badge, and a left shoulder arc reading "Base Honor Guard". A USAF Honor Guard member is traditionally referred to as a Ceremonial Guardsman.


The USAF Honor Guard's origins can be traced to May 1948 when Headquarters Command, United States Air Force, directed the creation of an elite ceremonial unit comparable to that of the other services. A ceremonial unit was activated within the 1100th Air Police Squadron at Bolling AFB, Washington DC, with the responsibility of maintaining an Air Force ceremonial capability in the National Capital Region. 24 years later, the USAF Honor Guard officially became its own separate squadron in 1972 and has remained at Bolling to this day.

Base Honor Guard Training Role

For 25 years, the Air Force used the base detail method to provide for military funeral honors. The Mortuary Affairs office would routinely task the installation's security police squadron with the burial detail. However, the selected detail members usually had little to no experience with burials, thus the quality of the ceremony suffered. In 1995, the Protocol, Honors and Ceremonies course was established to provide all base honor guard programs with much needed written guidance on funeral procedures and the authorized wear of the base honor guard ceremonial uniform. This course provides standardization throughout the Air Force. Depending on the circumstances, a contingent of honor guardsmen from an Air Force base may travel to Bolling AFB for formal training conducted by the USAF Honor Guard's training flight, or a trainer may be sent to the base from Bolling on temporary duty to perform the required training.

In January 2000, Public Law 106-65, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, October 5, 1999, Section 578, and Title 10, United States Code, Armed Forces, was implemented, providing for all veterans to receive, at a minimum, a funeral ceremony that includes the folding of a U.S. flag, presentation of the flag to the next-of-kin, and the playing of "Taps".

Types of Ceremonies Performed

Any service member honorably discharged after six months of service in the U.S. Air Force or any of the pre-1947 Air Force/Army organizations and considered to be in veteran status is entitled to the Veterans Funeral Honors. Veterans Funeral Honors are performed by either a two-man or three-man team. In a two-man ceremony, Taps is played after the folding of the flag, whereas in the three-man version, Taps is played before the flag-folding is complete.

For retired service members who have completed 20 years or more in the USAF or any of the pre-1947 Air Force/Army organizations, they receive the Standard Honors funeral service. This detail consists of a pallbearing sequence, a six-man flag fold (performed by the pallbearers), a three-volley rifle salute, and the playing of Taps. After this is completed, the flag will be presented to the next-of-kin. Three expended shell casings may be presented to the next-of-kin upon request.

Active duty deaths or anyone deserving of a Full Honors ceremony will receive a ceremony performed by twenty guardsmen; consisting of six pallbearers, seven firing party members, four color guardsmen, one bugler, one non-commissioned officer (NCO) in charge of the firing party, and one officer in charge of the detail. If the fallen service member was on flying status, a flyover may be authorized utilizing a single or multiple aircraft of the type that the deceased served upon. This is sometimes referred to as the "missing man formation".

See also

Air Force Honor Guard Badge




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