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Airman upholds honor guard tradition

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Most people can’t imagine having to present a folded American flag to a grieving family member as a symbol of appreciation on behalf of the president of the United States, the U.S. Air Force and a grateful nation when a service member or veteran passes.

Few Airmen will ever experience consoling a next of kin; thanking them for their loved one’s honorable and faithful service, and of those, even fewer stand out above the rest as truly exceptional.

Airman 1st Class Taylor Brown, 741st Maintenance Squadron power refrigeration and electrical lab technician and prior member of the Malmstrom Honor Guard, recently earned the Base Honor Guard member award for the third quarter.

“Brown is an all-around Airman,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Cenatiempo, Malmstrom Honor Guard NCO in charge. “He understands and exemplifies the total Airman concept. He is very upbeat, positive, fun and outgoing.”

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Brown was selected by his leadership to fulfill the commitment to the base’s honor guard May 2016 rotation.

Those selected for the task are handpicked to serve because their standards of conduct and level of professionalism are higher than their peers. These Airmen, who wear the ceremonial guardsman uniform, represent every member of the U.S. Air Force, both past and present.

“My advice to anyone in my position is to keep an open mind and be positive,” said Brown.

During Brown’s four-month commitment, he maintained a professional and helpful attitude.

“He always took the initiative to help out,” said Cenatiempo. “He performed in as many ceremonies and details as he could and never complained. He went above and beyond.”

Cenatiempo also said Brown exceeded standards by always wearing his ceremonial uniform properly and proudly.

The honor guard service uniform is different than traditional service dress. Special badges, patches, cords and stripes are worn to distinguish honor guard members from other Airmen. The uniforms must always be perfectly pressed, cleaned, and assembled because when worn, all eyes are focused on that Airman.

According to the base honor guard code of conduct, Airmen must never allow their performance to be affected by the type of ceremony, temperature or size of the crowd.

To be considered for Base Honor Guard member of the quarter, an individual must complete a minimum of 24 details.

Brown completed 44 details, not including two active-duty funerals he supported after his contract expired. Out of his ten-member rotation, he completed the most details.

“Even after he hit the minimum of 24 details he continued to support and perform details, no questions asked,” said Cenatiempo.

Brown upheld the honor guard charge by perfectly executing all movements throughout every detail and ceremony.

He participated in flag color teams both as a rifleman and as a flag bearer, veteran funerals as a flag folder and presenter, and two active duty funerals; one as a casket pallbearer and one as a member for a three volley firing party.

“I loved doing it,” said Brown. “I played my role in upholding the Air Force tradition of having an honor guard team perform military funerals.”

The mission is to render military honors for those who earned the right for Airmen to wear the uniform.

“It’s important that we as an Air Force continue to build on that tradition and support our service members and veterans,” said Brown. “I wouldn’t trade the experience I had for anything.”

Brown, however, remains modest and said he appreciates the opportunity he was given to honor those who paved the way for him and his fellow Airmen. Brown was constantly driven to excel by a devotion to duty and a sense of dedication.

“There is something truly inspirational about laying to rest a service member,” said Brown. “There is no other experience like giving a flag to a family member. Honor guard isn’t about you. It’s about honoring the heroes who served before you. You have to put that first.”