JBB Honor Guard looks for a few good men, women

Story and Photo by Sgt. Keith S. VanKlompenberg
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Service members' discipline and precision earn accolades, perhaps none more than those who serve in Honor Guards.

The Warfighters with the Honor Guard at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, volunteer their off-duty free time to performances that require a strict dedication to practice and perfect maneuvers that properly honor those who gave their lives in service to their country, said Senior Airman Valerie Vasquez, the assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of the JBB Honor Guard.

"The Honor Guard is a serious commitment of your time," said Vasquez, a diet therapy journeyman with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group and Pensacola, Fla., native.

Vasquez said the Honor Guard performs at events on base to display the military's discipline and attention to detail.

"Our ceremonies include performing colors presentations, as well as postings for various events, 21 gun salutes for the fallen, base retreat ceremonies, and other events and ceremonies in support of Joint Base Balad," she said. "These performances showcase teamwork, discipline and unwavering mutual trust."

Master Sgt. Scott Shockley, an equal opportunity adviser with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and Chamois, Miss., native, said his office has called upon the Honor Guard to participate in equal opportunity observance events.

"The expectation level is high," he said. "They are very professional and very sharp."

Shockley said he recommends anyone who has the time to consider volunteering for the Honor Guard. Not only is it a great way to honor the fallen, but it is also a great way to honor one's own unit, by displaying extreme discipline and dedication.

Because much is expected of the Honor Guard, much is expected from those who choose to join, said Vasquez.

"We would like at least three months to get you trained and participating in Honor Guard details," she said.

Vasquez said a signed letter of commitment is required prior to a service member joining, indicating a willingness to attend all performances and bi-weekly practices.

Membership in the JBB Honor Guard is open to all Soldiers, Sailors Airmen and Marines, she said.

Though the time and commitment required of the Honor Guard can be daunting, especially because service members at Balad work long hours and often conduct stressful missions, the rewards are great, said Vasquez.

"Honor Guard is the one thing I have been most passionate about through my entire enlistment," she said. "The honor I feel as I represent my service, my base and especially my team, is overwhelming.

"While performing colors, as a guardsman stands sharp, crisp and motionless, there is much time to think about why we stand in front of such an audience. We stand there, honoring our country, because this is who we are."


news photo
Service members in the Joint Base Balad Honor Guard execute a six-man flag fold during one of the team's bi-weekly practices at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.