Hill AFB Honor Guard: Nameless, selfless, flawless

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Base honor guard Airmen are charged with selflessly, namelessly and flawlessly representing the U.S. Air Force and its members, both past and present, to the American public and the world. 

The volunteer ranks of Hill’s ceremonial guardsmen execute that duty primarily as pall bearers, color guards and firing parties in ceremonial uniforms — without nametags — across a 169,000 square mile area in four states.

“For some people, watching an honor guard performance may be the only interaction with the military that person might have,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Vadnais, NCO in charge of the Hill AFB Honor Guard. “Because of this, we must uphold high standards and be icons of excellence in all we do.”

Experts in military drill, ceremonies and protocol, Hill’s three honor guard flights each specialize in a particular ceremonial element. However, all members are trained and capable of performing all duties.

“We practice daily. We have to ensure that every member is fully trained,” said Senior Airman Timothy Potter, Hill AFB Honor Guard’s lead instructor.

Volunteers for honor guard duty come from Team Hill’s active duty and reserve Airmen. Active duty members serve rotations of two weeks on duty and four weeks back at their units for the duration of a year. Reservists serve on a contract for 179 days.

Honor guard members also provide proffer and usher services when required, but primarily participate in funeral ceremonies.

“I joined the honor guard because I feel honored to be a part of the team who honors the heritage and legacy of the Air Force. I want to show deep gratitude to the men and women who in times of war and peace have faithfully defended our country,” said Staff Sgt. Kateryna Kozachenko.

Vadnais agreed.

“You can see a hundred of these ceremonies, but it’s such a humbling experience the first time you hand the flag to a family,” he said.

Volunteers typically receive an Achievement Medal upon completion of their honor guard contract.

Airmen interested in serving on the base honor guard can contact them at 801-777-3967 or Hill.Honorguard@us.af.mil.