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Honoring Tradition: 97 AMW Welcomes Newest Blue Knights

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing Honor Guard team, fold the U.S. flag during a practice ceremony, Oct. 19, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing Honor Guard team, fold the U.S. flag during a practice ceremony, Oct. 19, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Members of the 97th AMW gathered to watch the new members of the Altus Blue Knights Honor Guard team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jackson Haddon)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Douglass, member of the Altus Blue Knights Honor Guard team, plays taps on the bugle, Oct. 19, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Douglass, member of the Altus Blue Knights Honor Guard team, plays taps on the bugle, Oct. 19, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Douglass is one of eight new Honor Guard team members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jackson Haddon)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

The 97th Air Mobility Wing held an Honor Guard graduation ceremony on Oct. 22, 2018 to welcome the newest members of the Blue Knights. Honor Guard’s primary mission is to professionally represent the U.S. Air Force at all public ceremonies both state-side and abroad.

U.S. Air Force SrA Isaac Bernatchez, Honor Guard member, said the graduates participated in approximately 80 hours of challenging training to get to graduation.

Bernatchez served his year in the Honor Guard and is now welcoming new members into the rotation as he is getting out.

“The process of getting to graduation is the learning of the ceremonial movements and procedures of funeral services, firing party and colors details,” said Bernatchez. “The ceremonial movements are different than proper Air Force movements. Graduating means that you now have the confidence and skills to perform proper military honors and execute the many special events that are tasked to us.”

During the ceremony, the newest graduates performed a mock funeral service, demonstrating the precision and confidence required in their field. The ceremony included a flag folding, bugle playing and firing party.

There are occasions in which the only interaction someone may have with the Air Force is with a Base Honor Guard.  They ensure that their interaction with the Air Force is meaningful.

“The significance of Honor Guard is to honor with dignity and respect,” said Bernatchez. “Some of our roles and responsibilities are to perform funeral honors for veterans and perform at special events.

The Base Honor Guard members manage a facility, ensure equipment is maintained, and conduct funerals and general details. Bernatchez shared that being in Honor Guard has greatly impacted his life in positive ways.

“Honor Guard has helped me to grow as an individual and practice my leadership skills by allowing me to hear about the people Honor Guard affected. Learning that I was helping people showed me how I impact friends and family as well as myself,” said Bernatchez.

Honor Guard Members are selected from various units on base to represent the Air Force at a multitude of ceremonies.  Due to the structure of the Honor Guard, members frequently rotate in and out. Members serve approximately a year before getting out.

“Members are chosen by the leadership of their respective squadron based on their exemplary performance and who would best represent the Air Force to the public,” said Bernatchez.

The Honor Guard has a long-standing tradition of providing the most precise and honorable ceremonies and continues this today. Tradition is a vital part of the Air Force, ceremonies and events revolve around it, customs and courtesies are influenced by tradition and it adds to the professionalism of the U.S. Air Force. The 97th is comprised of dedicated Airmen who will continue to honor past and present traditions in the future.