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Practice makes perfect

Dover Air Force Base

Senior Airman Joseph Mendoza, 736th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-17 crew chief and head trainer, demonstrates a modified parade rest position typically used during a prayer or invocation Jan. 15, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. To become a member, recruits must first complete a 10-day training session that covers military ceremonies, standing manuals, command voices, flag folding, basic rifle drill, and uniform inspections. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base

Airman 1st Class Franz Magpayo, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron heating and air conditioning apprentice, renders a salute Jan. 15, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Base honor guard members are typically first-term Airmen recruited from the 436th Airlift Wing, the 512th Airlift Wing and tenant units throughout the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base

Senior Airman Daniele Belovarac, 3rd Airlift Squadron loadmaster and honor guard flight leader, demonstrates the carry of a folded American flag Jan. 15, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. In 2018, the base honor guard supported 1,041 funerals services, averaging almost three a day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base

Senior Airman Daniele Belovarac, 3rd Airlift Squadron loadmaster and honor guard flight leader and Senior Airman Ben Newsome, 436th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance, demonstrate a flag folding ceremony Jan. 15, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. While a flag folding requires only two Airmen, some ceremonies can require up to 20 airmen grouped in several moving parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base

Members of the base honor guard practice a three-volley salute Jan. 15, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. After completing a required 10-day training course the Airmen strive to perfect their drills through constant practice and repetition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base

Senior Airman Joseph Mendoza, 736th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief and honor guard head trainer, corrects another member on proper rifle angle Jan. 15, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Members of the honor guard rely on one another to help perfect each other’s form during drills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base

Airmen of the base honor guard perform incentive push-ups Jan. 15, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The airmen perform push-ups together as a team whenever a member of the team makes a mistake during drills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base

Airman Donovan Gilhooly, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron aircraft parts apprentice, gets dressed before heading out for a funeral service. During their four month tour the Airmen are assigned a locker at the training hall, where they keep their ceremonial uniforms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base

Airman 1st Class Franz Magpayo, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron heating and air conditioning apprentice, adjusts his uniform gig line in preparation for an event Jan. 21, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Members of the base honor guard travel on a daily basis to support funerals and ceremonies throughout a 12,245 square mile area of responsibility that covers Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and parts of Pennsylvania.(U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base
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Airman 1st Class Christopher Loera Jr., 436th Aerial Port Squadron cargo processor and Senior Airman Jonathan Sharp, 436th Operational Support Squadron radar airfield and weather system technician, load rifles and flags into the trunk of a vehicle Jan. 21, 2018 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. In 2018, the base honor guard supported over 153 events, providing colors details for military ceremonies, marching in 10 parades and appearing at professional sporting events and federal holiday celebrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base
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Senior Airman Jonathan Sharp, 436th Operational Support Squadron radar airfield and weather system technician, prepares and American flag before an event Jan. 21, 2019 at Delaware State University, Delaware. Each ceremony along with novel venues, poses new challenges, so the team always arrives early to assess the location and rehearse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base
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The Dover Air force Base Honor guard presents the colors during the singing of the National Anthem at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Jan. 21, 2019 at Delaware State University. Among those in attendance were Delaware Governor John Carney, Delaware Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, Delaware Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester and Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen.(U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- – Integrity, service and excellence are the core values of the United States Air Force, and the embodiment of those values is seen every day in the Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard.

On a daily basis, members of the base honor guard travel within a 12,245 square-mile area of responsibility that covers Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and parts of Pennsylvania, performing funeral honors for active-duty Airmen, Air Force veterans and retirees. In 2018, they supported 1,041 funeral services, averaging almost three a day, as well as a funeral service in Puerto Rico for the Air National Guardsmen who perished in a C-130 crash in Georgia. In addition to funeral services, the base honor guard contributed to over 153 events, providing colors details for military ceremonies, marching in parades and appearing at professional sporting events and federal holiday celebrations throughout the year.

“Our motto is to serve with dignity, honor and respect,” said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Harrington, base honor guard noncommissioned officer in charge.

Base honor guard members are typically first-term Airmen recruited from the 436th Airlift Wing, the 512th Airlift Wing and tenant units throughout the base.

“A good candidate for the honor guard would be someone who’s already squared away as far as uniform, military standards and bearing,” said Harrington.

With precision drill movements, impeccable uniforms and attention to detail, they act as ambassadors for the base and the United States Air Force. To civilians, the base honor guard may be their first and possibly last encounter with the United States Air Force. Knowing this, the honor guard strives to always leave a great impression. Even for the sharpest Airmen, that takes practice – lots of practice.

To be in the honor guard, recruits must first complete a 10-day training session. The crash course covers military ceremonies, standing manuals, command voices, flag folding, basic rifle drill and uniform inspections to ensure everyone looks his or her best. Upon completion, the flight of 24 Airmen are ready to serve a four-month tour; although, the tour length will soon be extended to six months.

Practice doesn’t stop there, though. When the Airmen are not performing services, they are constantly perfecting their drills. You can always know when the honor guard is practicing because their heels come together with a loud “pop” as they snap to attention.

Each type of ceremony has different requirements. While a flag folding requires only two Airmen, some ceremonies can require up to 20 Airmen, grouped in several moving parts. Every routine is repeated until the Airmen learn to move in unison, to verbal commands and cadence. All of the flight members know they are serving for something greater than themselves.

“Without teamwork, we are not one cohesive unit… Whether it’s carrying a casket, presenting colors or folding a flag, we all need to be on the same page at all times,” said Airman 1st Class Christopher Loera Jr., 436th Aerial Port Squadron cargo processor.