United States Air Force Base Honor Guard

United States Air Force Base Honor Guard

The primary mission of the United States Air Force Base Honor Guard program is to employ, equip, and train Air Force members to provide professional military funeral honors for active duty, retired members, and veterans of the United States Air Force. The Base Honor Guard Program is a mandatory Air Force program and is the responsibility of the installation commander. Members are usually volunteers from the installation host and tenant units, with selections generally coming from the installation's Airman Basic to Technical Sergeant pool. The base honor guard emphasizes the importance of military customs and courtesies, dress and appearance, and drill and ceremonies.

Origins

The origins of the base honor guard can be traced to May 1948 when Headquarters Command, United States Air Force, directed the creation of an elite ceremonial unit comparable to the other Services. The first base honor guard was activated within the 1100th Air Police Squadron, Bolling Field, Washington DC, and was responsible for maintaining an Air Force ceremonial capability in the National Capital Region. However, other Air Force installations worldwide approached ceremonial responsibilities and military funeral honors quite differently.

For 25 years, the Air Force used the base detail method to provide for military funeral honors. The mortuary affairs office would routinely task the installation's security police squadron with the burial detail. However, the selected detail members usually had little to no experience with burials, thus the quality of the ceremony suffered. In 1995, the Protocol Honors, and Ceremonies course was established to provide the Base Honor Guard Program with much needed written guidance on funeral procedures and the authorized wear of the base honor guard ceremonial uniform. This course provides standardization throughout the Air Force.

In January 2000, public law 106-65, "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000", October 5, 1999, Section 578, and Title 10, United States Code, "Armed Forces", was implemented, providing for all veterans to receive, at a minimum, a funeral ceremony that includes the folding of a US flag, presentation of the flag to the veteran's family, and the playing of "Taps".

Types of Ceremonies Performed

Any serviceman honorably discharged after six months of service in the USAF or any of the pre-1947 Air Force/Army organizations and considered to be in veteran status is entitled to the Veterans Funeral Honors. Veterans Funeral Honors are performed in two different ways, a two-man or three-man. In a two-man ceremony, Taps is played before the folding of the flag, whereas in the three-man version, Taps is played after the flag-folding is complete.

For servicemen who have completed 20 years or more in the USAF or any of the pre-1947 Air Force/Army organizations, they receive the Standard Honors funeral service. This detail consists of a pallbearing sequence, a six-man flag fold (performed by the pallbearers), three volley salute, and the playing of Taps. After this is completed, the flag will be presented as it is in the veteran's funeral along with three shell casings.

Active Duty deaths or anyone deserving of a Full Honors ceremony will receive a ceremony performed by twenty guardsmen, six pallbearers, seven firing party members, four color guardsmen, one bugler, one non-commissioned officer (NCO) in charge of firing party, and one officer in charge of the detail. If the fallen service member was considered to be in "Flying Status" a flyover may be authorized, often referred to as the "missing man formation".

See also

Air Force Honor Guard Badge

Sources

This text was taken from AFPAM 36-2241V1, pp. 120-121. [http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/pubfiles/af/36/afpam36-2241v1/afpam36-2241v1.pdf 1]


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