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Honor Guard travels to Europe, one member sees familiar face

Senior Airman James Cashwell, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team member, talks with an old friend, Army Spc. Matthew Goodwin, after a surprise meeting at Laundsthul Medical Center in Germany Aug. 1. The drill team performed for patients and hospital staff before going room to room to visit with some of America’s injured heroes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel DeCook)

Senior Airman James Cashwell, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team member, talks with an old friend, Army Spc. Matthew Goodwin, after a surprise meeting at Laundsthul Medical Center in Germany Aug. 1. The drill team performed for patients and hospital staff before going room to room to visit with some of America’s injured heroes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel DeCook)

BOLLING AFB, D.C. -- Each of the many performances the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team executes each year leaves a unique mark on the drill team members. Whether it's meeting a retired veteran who is reinspired by a performance or seeing a child who stands up proudly to say, "That's what I will do," the job of being a drill team member has its own responsibilities and rewards.

But a recent trip overseas left one member of the team speechless and the rest overwhelmed. Upon seeing the bravery and sacrifice of our servicemen and women displayed during a recent trip to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany, each drill team member was proud to perform for these heroes. But Senior Airman James Cashwell had more of a reason to smile.

After the performance, when the team visited our wounded warriors in their rooms, Airman Cashwell spotted a familiar face in a very unfamiliar location. His hometown friend, Army Specialist Matthew Goodwin, was lying in a bed with his wounded arm wrapped from fingertips to elbow.

Airman Cashwell, caught up by the sight of his wounded friend, was unable to say anything except Specialist Goodwin's hometown nickname. Hearing that, Specialist Goodwin sat up in his bed and recognized his longtime friend, both thousands of miles from their hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C.

"It was pure shock, I couldn't believe my eyes and I didn't really know what to think," said Airman Cashwell. "I just couldn't believe a guy I went to school with was now lying in a hospital bed after being hit by an IED (improvised explosive device)."
As a nurse entered the room with pain medication for Specialist Goodwin, he declined and told the nurse, "Oh, I forgot about the pain; it really doesn't bother me now that he is here."

The trip to Landstuhl Medical Center, though not the only performance of this European tour, was the most memorable. The team also traveled across Italy, Hungary and Germany to perform at five Air Force bases and at a ceremony in Miskolc City, Hungary, from July 26 to August 3.