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Honorable and Faithful Service

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Vernon L. Fowler Jr.
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
"On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Air Force, and a grateful nation please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service."

It would be difficult for someone to imagine the feeling of staring into the eyes of a grieving family member while presenting them a carefully folded flag and simultaneously reciting that phrase.

This is what Airmen who have the privilege of participating in the MacDill Air Force Base Honor Guard experience on a daily basis.

In April of 2013, I was chosen by my leadership to participate in the base honor guard.
Upon my arrival, I had no idea of what I would be facing. I was anxious because I had never heard of the base's honor guard; and after being informed of everything I would need to learn, it only made me more uneasy.

I was required, with the other new members, to constantly practice flag folds, firing party drills, presenting the colors and all the other services honor guard provides. Everything had to be precise and performed ceremoniously, all while maintaining strict bearing. Even if a mistake was made, we were to continue as if nothing happened.

I visited cities and cemeteries all throughout Florida, such as Sarasota National Cemetery, Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, and cemeteries as far as in Ft. Myers.
The goal during each ceremony was to display the utmost respect to the deceased service member and the family and friends in attendance.

It would hurt my heart each time I would have to look into the eyes of the individual receiving the flag as they hung onto my every word.

On numerous occasions, following the ceremonies, widows, children and friends of the deceased emotionally thanked us for coming and doing the honors.

I recently finished my contract and I must say it was truly a humbling experience. Honor guard has taught me the true meaning of our core values and to be genuinely selfless in the service we provide.