JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team performed a demonstration and recruited potential candidates at the 305th Aerial Port Squadron’s Dock 23 here March 28, 2013.
The drill team members spun, flipped and tossed authentic M1 rifles, with bayonets attached, while marching and moving precisely to their coordinated locations. The crowd was encouraged to cheer and clap to show the team members’ concentration could not be broken.
Master Sgt. Whitfield Jack, USAF HG superintendent, marched between two lines of members spinning rifles, twice, for the walk through gauntlet maneuver. The drill team members threw rifles in the air to their counterparts in another display.
“The difference between the discipline the USAF HG enacts with their drill and the basics of drill we use at base-level honor guard is incredible,” said Airman 1st Class Megan Ross, 6th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “One of my favorite parts of the performance was the master sergeant walking between the rows of spinning rifles. I also really enjoyed when they swapped rifles by standing them on the ground and just letting go.”
Audience members were allowed to ask the drill team members questions after a brief slideshow presentation. Audience members asked questions about requirements to join the team and experiences team members have had.
The drill team, along with the USAF HG’s other sections, represent the Air Force through precise drill and support the mission through public performances and serving as the Air Force’s ambassadors. The USAF HG differs from base honor guards as the USAF HG representing the whole Air Force and dedicates more time.
“USAF HG members first are interviewed before going through an eight-week tech school,” said Senior Airman Alexander Wilson, USAF HG Drill Team member and Detroit native. “The training is extremely intense with 12-hour days of physical training. The course is designed to weed out weaker members. After making it into the USAF HG, you can try out for the Drill Team, where you will undergo more training.”
The Airmen, ranging from junior-enlisted Airmen through field-grade officers, constantly train to be the most precise drill team in the U.S. armed forces. The drill team won in a drill competition against the highest-level honor guards of its sister services 2011 and 2012.
The drill team members all agreed the USAF HG provides Airmen with opportunities to grow professionally and individually.
“One of my favorite aspects of this job is mentoring young Airmen,” said Jack. “NCOs here are responsible for six to eight Airmen on average. This experience has prepared me to be a great leader wherever I may go.”
The minimum requirements to join the USAF HG are:
—Members must be eligible for a permanent change of station reassignment. Reference AFI 36-2110, Assignments Quality Control, paragraph 2.40 for specific requirements.
—Performance reports must show the applicant has consistently demonstrated high standards of character, discretion, loyalty and performance.
—No physical disqualifiers, to include history of posture, back, knee, feet, joint or equilibrium problems.
—20/20 vision is required, or it must be correctable via contact lenses.
—Must present impeccable military image and conform to exact grooming standards. No shaving waivers are allowed.
—No fear of firearms or a history of anxiety, emotional or nervous system disorders.
—Ability to speak clearly and distinctly with no speech impediment.
—Desired height requirement for males is 5'10" and for females it is 5'6".
—Have no conviction under the uniformed code of military justice during current enlistment.
“The training is arduous, but it merits a sense of pride,” said Wilson. “We are all really close due to the immense amount of time we spend together, so we have a lot of fun at work. This is a one-of-a-kind career that I would recommend anyone interested to pursue.”
Anyone interested in joining can find additional information at www.honorguard.af.mil/recruiting.