386th NEWS

Honor Guard carries on rich tradition at Ali Al Salem Air Base

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Patrick Evenson
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE - The room is silent and still. From the rear comes a synchronized, “Tap. Tap. Tap,” from military issued boots. All present display a humble reverence as the flags of their nation and a deployed military unit pass by, displacing the air around them.

“Present arms!”, comes a sharp commanding order that draws the attention and focus of all within the room.

The slapping of the stock of an M-1 rifle is the only sound heard, reverberating off the walls and seamlessly blending in with the pivot of the feet.

Silence.

The flags are gently lowered into their stands with the care of a newborn placed in their mothers arms. Respect is clearly shown by the bearers of the colors, encouraging others to have the same regard.

And with the rhythmic calculating tapping of the soles, the Ali Al Salem Air Base Honor Guard exits the stage.

This is one of the last times the outgoing members of the base honor guard will train their incoming counterparts on the protocol and etiquette needed for the position.

The honor guard provides military ceremonial support and mortuary related duties.

“Over my years in the military, some of the most touching moments I have are watching the honor guard,” said Maj. Tanas Estrada, 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron Operations Officer and Officer in Charge of the ASAB honor guard. “Every action, step, slide of the foot, slap of the rifle; everything has so much meaning.”

Air Force honor guards trace their beginnings back to May of 1948 when the service was instructed to develop plans for an elite ceremonial unit comparable to those of the other armed services.

Senior Airman Devante Williams, a materiel management specialist with the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron and Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the base honor guard, understands the importance of leaving the team in good hands.

“I believe it’s a special detail to have,” said Williams. “When we go up in front of the crowd, we want to make sure that we keep a strong military bearing, that we are precise and accurate on our movements and that we know what we are doing. We take pride in what we’re doing.”

“It’s heritage,” said Staff Sgt. Leonardo Meza Camarena, 386th Air Expeditionary Financial Management specialist and member of the outgoing honor guard team. “There is tradition behind it. It’s a nice way to pay your respects to those who have come before and those who have done amazing things for us and for America in the present.”

The past week was spent with Williams and his team focusing on recruiting new members and getting them spun up on everything from change of command ceremonies to promotions and awards.

Williams, who upon arrival at ASAB July 2021 had no prior background in the honor guard, gained much from the experience.

“It helps with good military bearing and good discipline,” said Williams. “It teaches you what the Air Force is all about.”

Estrada was happy with the interest in the recruiting event, which provided the outgoing team a good turnover with the newcomers.

At the end of the practice, she gave the newcomers some simple advice, “Soak up as much as you can. Ask all the questions.”