Hard never means impossible

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
A staff sergeant stands firmly at attention, rifle at his side, waiting to receive the next order from his evaluator. His hope is to become part of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard's firing party element.

Airman 1st Class Grace Taylor, USAF Honor Guard training flight instructor, will determine if his skills are proficient enough to be on the team.

Taylor is the only female tech school instructor for the honor guard.

"I thought I would be good at it," she said. "I wanted to give it a shot."

Before becoming an instructor, she was a part of firing party, which fires three volleys during funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. These seven-person teams fire their three rounds in perfect unison-honoring the fallen.

"I didn't want to stay in firing party the whole time," Taylor said. "I wanted to do something different."

During her time with the honor guard, she also tried out for the drill team, which is the traveling component of the USAF Honor Guard. The team performs drill movements with a fully-functional M-1 rifle in intricate, constantly changing formations.

She tried out for the drill team on three different occasions. Her final time, she said, she suffered an injury during week 10 of 12, which prevented her from continuing with the training.

As an instructor, Taylor said one of the biggest challenges is the schedule.

"I wake up at 4:30 a.m. for physical training at 5 a.m.," Taylor said. "I sometimes work as late as 7 p.m."

As a testament to her dedication, Taylor works with the students on the weekends.

"I want to help them as much as possible," she said.

Mark Brownlee, USAF Honor Guard training flight instructor, enjoys working with Taylor. Currently, they have been working together, as instructors, for three months.

"She has a very good work ethic," Brownlee said.

Brownlee said that having her there is helpful, because the female trainees have someone to look up to.

Outside of training, Taylor enjoys traveling, dancing and playing music.

"I play the violin," said Taylor, "I have been playing for about nine years."

Her love for dance started at the age of five, she said.

"I prefer ballet and have been doing it for 12 years," Taylor said.

After the military, Taylor said she hopes to become an actress.

When Taylor is faced with adversity, she just remembers what her mom told her: "Hard never means impossible." This bit of wisdom helps her get through the physical and mental challenges of life.