Behind the bayonets: Drill Team maintains professional, personnel readiness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel DeCook
  • 844th Communications Group
Spinning rifles with precision, standing in the public eye presenting the crisp Air Force image, to support the never-ending Air Force mission of recruiting, retention and inspiration, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team embarked on yet another cross-country journey, this time to California.

The Drill Team performed at Edwards AFB, Calif., two local high schools in the Edwards area, the famed Walt Disneyland Resort, and on the set of the feature film "Iron Man."

With days packed full of performances, practices and long bus and plane rides, the Drill Team still finds time to keep up with the things important to an Airman's career. And with the current emphasis on physical training and education, there is not much time for fun and games.

After driving 20 minutes from the Air Force Honor Guard's home base at Bolling to Andrews AFB, Md., many senior airmen testing for staff sergeant in the coming months had some serious study time during the six-hour military air flight to the Los Angeles area. Promotion Fitness Examination study guides and study software were abundant, along with audio tapes and practice tests, as the team set out on its 17th temporary duty assignment since the beginning of their performance season, in late November 2006.

The Honor Guard's recruiting team, a part of the Drill Team, made final preparations for the events at Edwards on the flight to California, and the Drill Team's leadership took the time away from e-mails and phone calls to coordinate details for future tours in May and June.

"It is very difficult to study with the draining and fast-paced schedule we keep," said Senior Airman Adam Clonick, drill team member. "The extreme concentration that goes into one of our performances doesn't leave a lot of mental energy for studying. But I know if I don't do it while I'm on the road, it will be impossible for me to keep up with my peers."

Although the performances are physically taxing, it is also important for the Drill Team to find time for physical training. The entire team gets together at the end of each day for group PT. After a quick warm-up, they do push-ups and sit-ups. Then, with an Honor Guard guidon in hand, the team sets out for a two-and-half-mile formation run, despite the intense heat of the Mohave Desert.

"The Air Force has set a high standard for us to keep in order to be mission ready, and it requires more attention than just a few times while we are at our home base," said Senior Airman Issac Kendrick, drill team member. "The formation run is a great way for us to stay in performance condition and make sure we are always ready, because the Honor Guard has PT testing not just once like most organizations, but we test twice per year."

Airmen across the globe often make sacrifices to meet the expectations of being Air Force members. And as one of the most visible and recognizable units across the Air Force, drill team Airmen are no exception. So, it's no surprise that just as the Honor Guard touts its mission, the Airmen on the Drill Team represent everyone in the Air Force who, despite the long and exhausting duty days and personal or family sacrifices, keep focused on successful mission accomplishment.