Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Cannon’s ceremonial guardsmen

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27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Honor is defined as regard with great respect. For that reason, honor guardsmen are those who have the privilege of showing the families of fallen service members the highest esteem in their final memorial services.

Base honor guard at Cannon Air Force Base is a congressionally mandated program, managed by the 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron. The program provides detailed instructions on key areas such as manuals, uniforms, history and traditions, and a variety of ceremonies.

The requirements for base-level honor guard programs are much more lenient than those of the Air Force Honor Guard; however, all guardsmen are essentially the ‘best of the best’. The ceremonial guardsman is an individual of good reputation, having integrity, ethical conduct and exhibiting standards which merit respect. These select few are responsible for protecting and overseeing the maintenance of standards on and off duty. Those without current disciplinary actions or medical and physical limitations to prevent them from performing ceremonial functions are highly encouraged to volunteer.

Open to all ranks, enlisted and commissioned, the base honor guard program has a primary mission of providing funeral and memorial services. In addition, honor guardsmen also provide services during retirements, change of command ceremonies and various other base events.

Potential guardsmen endure an intense two-week training course which includes rifle movements, color ceremony procedures, flag carrying and folding, and casket carrying along with other necessary techniques before being evaluated and qualified.

Although the number of funerals, base ceremonies and community events varies from year to year, Cannon’s Honor Guard lends their services nearly 200 times annually.

“The base honor guard has a no-fail mission that requires its members to be selfless, ready and available, if needed, every single day—holidays are no exception,” explained Tech. Sgt. Allen McClure, 27 SOFSS NCO in charge of honor guard.

A special mission aviator by trade, McClure’s initial experience with the base honor guard led him to return and lead a group of more than two dozen Cannon airmen. His motivation is to ensure that all Air Commandos involved in honor guard program are mentally and physically prepared to represent all others in the service while exhibiting superb professionalism.

Aside from testing themselves physically and mentally, being eligible for wing-level awards, receiving an Air Force Achievement Medal after a year, and getting free haircuts during their base honor guard tenure, ceremonial guardsmen have the opportunity to walk away from the experience with an invaluable reward.

“You can execute every technique, movement and procedure perfectly, but there are no words to describe the emotional impact of the first time you hand a flag to a fallen member’s next of kin,” explained McClure. “There is no way to prepare anyone for that moment — you are forever changed.”

Cannon’s Honor Guard allows for Air Commandos from all Air Force Specialty Codes, ranks and levels of experience to join in a valiant effort of maintaining Air Force history, traditions and exceptionally high standards. These ceremonial guardsmen are essential in ensuring that base honor guards will continually be noted as icons of excellence.