BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Editor’s Note: This article is the sixth in a series highlighting the Air Force Global Strike Command Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Air Force Global Strike Command recently named its Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2019, recognizing the top enlisted members across the command.
Tech. Sgt. Paul Witt, NCOIC of the Team Kirtland Base Honor Guard, won the Honor Guard Manager of the Year category.
“Being recognized by AFGSC is a huge honor,” he said. “I truly love the Base Honor Guard program and what it represents, and being recognized for the work I have put into improving our program at Kirtland AFB is truly amazing!”
Witt, who hails from Marysville, Ohio, joined the Air Force in 2010. During the last year on the Honor Guard he was recognized for a number of outstanding achievements, but a couple stand out in his mind.
First, Witt organized a full firing party for the funeral of Fireman First Class Billy Johnson who was killed in action while serving on the USS Oklahoma when it was attacked by the Japanese in Pearl Harbor during World War II. Johnson’s remains were interred in a grave marked “unknown” until 2019, when they were identified through DNA testing and he was laid to rest by his family in Santa Fe National Cemetery in New Mexico.
In addition, Witt coordinated the first flyover funeral honors in more than two years for the Base Honor Guard for the funeral of a WWII Veteran and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross who flew missions on D-Day. Since the flying team did not have a person locally to coordinate the precise flyover time during the ceremony, Witt and his team had to rehearse and time the ceremony precisely to provide the flying squadron the time and GPS coordinates for the flyover, which resulted in perfect timing.
While his personal achievements on the Honor Guard are meaningful to Witt, he said he most enjoys working with the Airmen on his team.
“My favorite part of leading the Kirtland AFB Base Honor Guard is definitely the Airmen we have assigned. They come from two wings and three mission partners as well as all kinds of Air Force Specialty Codes from maintenance, security forces and finance, to our lieutenants with engineering and space backgrounds,” Witt said. “Kirtland has such a broad spectrum of missions that we get Airmen from, so learning about all of their impacts to the Air Force, and now the Space Force missions is amazing.”
Witt feels that serving on the Honor Guard team makes Airmen better leaders, which strengthens all aspects of the AFGSC mission.
“The Kirtland AFB Base Honor Guard’s mission is important to the AFGSC mission because we get to further develop our Airmen by being able to put them into various leadership roles, whether its leading a Color Guard mission for a change of command ceremony continuing our service’s customs and traditions, or rendering military funeral honors honoring an Air Force member’s life and service to their country,” he said. “Our mission could be the last interaction of a member’s family with the Air Force, so it is important we represent the Air Force in the most professional and honorable way possible; not doing so could seriously discredit our program and our service.”
Witt said he is extremely proud of his service on the Kirtland Honor Guard.
“I would say the thing I am most proud of was being able to see the Airmen that serve on the Base Honor Guard grow and develop their leadership skills. The Airmen on our team never cease to amaze me with how they continually raise the bar with each mission we do,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it is a Color Guard mission that takes a few minutes to do, or an active-duty member’s military funeral, our team is always elevating their performance and professionalism.”