The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Honor guard takes pride in duties

 


Cannon Connections photo: Clarence Plank Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard practices folding the American flag. They practice for occasions when the honor guard is assigned to perform a task for either a retirement, a change of command or funerals.

Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard members spend a lot of hours working so that they can honor retirees, a change of command or the fallen.

The honor guard acts as a liaison between the community and Cannon Air Force Base personnel to bring honor, said Honor Guard Superintendent Tech Sgt. Javier Aguirre. That is what links them to the civilian world, he said, whether they’re carrying a casket or forming a firing party.

Honor guard member Senior Airman Ryan Fisco said the most important part of being with organization is the camaraderie.

“You meet a lot of good guys out here from different jobs and different squadrons,” Fisco said. “This way we learn a lot from each other and become well-respected in training. It kind of helps me out, too.”

The honor guard members train a lot, working on situations that could arise during a retirement ceremony or a funeral. Fisco said they sometimes have to adjust to the environment and the situation.

“You’re kind of getting ready for that part where you’re looking at the next of kin right in the eyes,” Fisco said. “And you’re telling them the line, on behalf of the president of the United States and all of that, and they are crying and really sad.”


Aguirre said honor guard members practice from 8 a.m. to noon all week, and handle details.

“We consider a detail something like a retirement ceremony,” he explained.

Training is specialized for what the honor guard has to do, from being pallbearers to presenting colors. They must learn their creed and maintain a high standard of discipline, Aguirre said.

They do push-ups or lift weights in order to prepare for different situations. The caskets they carry can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

The honor guard members are contracted for one year and rotate out after their tour is done.

During the time airmen are participating, they spend two weeks training, and then they go into flights. They’re divided into groups of 10, with one group ready for details, another group on stand-by and the third group off on a given week.

They rotate weeks to be working, on stand-by and off.

Senior Airman Matthew Watts is going through his second contract in the honor guard. He goes over the steps in his head during a march or a funeral.

Watts said being able to give someone their final honors is what he enjoys about being part of the honor guard.

“A lot of times you have to keep your bearings because the pastor might tell a funny story,” Watts said. “You can’t laugh, while doing your duty. A lot times you have to focus on what is coming up next and try to prepare for it. I look at it like I’m doing my job for that person who had passed away.”

 
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