News>Feature - Yokota Honor Guard: Serving with dedication, integrity
Airman 1st Class William Johnson, Yokota Honor Guardsman, assists recruits with placing the flag staffs in the correct position of present arms during a training session at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Senior Airman Gabriel Gill, right, Yokota Honor Guardsman, teaches Airman 1st Class Simon Tarango, honor guard recruit, how to handle a rifle at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 1, 2012. Upon successful completion of training, Tarango was selected for the base honor guard team. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Staff Sgt. Jarrod Leonard, Yokota Honor Guardsman, holds a rifle at the position of port arms during a training session at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Staff Sgt. Shane Polk, Yokota Honor Guard recruit, practices port arms with a flag staff during a training session at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2012. Upon successful completion of training, Polk was selected for the base honor guard team. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Yokota Honor Guardsmen, left, teach new recruits the steps for performing the order arms movement during a training session at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 2, 2012. Honor guardsmen train "by the numbers" which means pausing for each move and shouting out the movement count before proceeding to the next position. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Staff Sgt. Tyrone Rael, Yokota Honor Guard NCO in charge, watches new recruits as they perform rifle movements during a week-long training program at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 1, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Yokota Honor Guard recruits learn how to perform facing movements and standing positions while carrying rifles during training at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on May 1, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
by Airman 1st Class Desiree Economides
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
5/9/2012 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- All is quiet, not a whisper to be heard. They stand fast and remain ready. The determination can be seen in their eyes. They are dressed in firmly pressed ceremonial uniforms, adorned with silver braided ropes. The command is given, "Colors...tench hut (attention)!"
The small team of Airmen snaps to the position of attention. Almost immediately they glide to the center of the stage with seamless ease and grace, melding as one to pay proper respect to the flag waving its red, white and blue in the breeze.
Eighteen Airmen at Yokota currently have the merit to wear the silver rope as members of the Yokota Honor Guard and they are looking for more Airmen to join their ranks.
"The Yokota Honor Guard strives to select only the highest caliber of Airmen to fill a position on the team," said 1st Lt. Jose Quintanilla, Yokota Honor Guard officer in charge. "Our members are representatives of our base and local community; they represent Yokota and the Air Force as a whole. They have a deep desire to provide honors to those that serve and have served and personify the Air Force Core Values."
Throughout the year, the honor guard supports approximately 75 events, or details; ranging from wing award and retirement ceremonies, bilateral ceremonies held in Japan, including the Fussa City Parade and the Special Olympics, POW/MIA ceremonies and funeral or memorial services.
"One of the most memorable details I participated in was a performance here for children who were directly impacted by the earthquake and tsunami that occurred on March 11, 2011," said Airman 1st Class Kevin Jarrett, Yokota Honor Guard lead trainer. "They were happy to see us and I really enjoyed being a part of the event."
Though the honor guard is recognizable for their sharp presentations and appearance in official ceremonies, the guardsmen do not learn these skills overnight.
Quarterly, Airmen who are interested in joining the honor guard can attend a week-long training seminar to learn basic ceremonial facing movements, rifle manuals and flagstaff techniques.
Upon successful completion of the seminar, and selection as a team member, guardsmen are required to attend weekly practice and participate in a minimum of four details a quarter.
In addition to participation requirements, guardsmen must uphold the highest standards of conduct and military discipline, which includes having no disciplinary issues.
"You have people watching what you do and how you act, whether you're on or off-duty, so it's important to always stay sharp," said Jarrett. "Maintaining your military bearing at all times is key for honor guardsmen."
Not only is there a sense of pride among the guardsmen when upholding military standards, but Airmen can attest to what it feels like when they learn and grow personally.
"Being on the honor guard is a great experience," said Staff Sgt. Tyrone Rael, Yokota Honor Guard NCO in charge. "It helps you have a better understanding of military customs and courtesies, as well as an increase in self discipline."
For those interested in learning more about becoming an elite member of the Yokota Honor Guard, or to find out information on the next training seminar, contact Sergeant Rael at 225-8968 or Staff Sgt. David Bader at 225-2666.
The desire to become a guardsman is unique to each individual, but one common theme rings true, to serve with dedication and honor.
"I joined the honor guard as an opportunity to do something honorable," said Airman 1st Class Simon Tarango, one of four new guardsmen recently selected to join the team at Yokota. "Being a part of the honor guard gives me a deep sense of dedication to something that is greater than myself, and that is a really good feeling to have."