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To honor with dignity: Reservists uphold legacy, tradition

Reserve Honor Guard members from the 419th Fighter Wing fold the American flag during a retirement ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah on June 6, 2021.

Reserve Honor Guard members from the 419th Fighter Wing fold the American flag during a retirement ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah on June 6, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erica Webster)

Close up of Reserve Honor Guard members from the 419th Fighter Wing folding the American flag during a retirement ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah on June 6, 2021.

Reserve Honor Guard members from the 419th Fighter Wing fold the American flag during a retirement ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah on June 6, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erica Webster)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The base grows silent as buildings empty and streets clear at the end of the duty day, but one building remains lit as a small group of Airmen gather to continue their training into the evening.

The 419th Fighter Wing Honor Guard is comprised of reservists who’ve decided to volunteer their time to learn and perfect one of the oldest and most treasured traditions within the Air Force.

“The first thing we teach is how to fold the flag properly,” said Senior Airman Nicholas Walters, 419th Honor Guard volunteer. “Once they feel confident in that, we’ll start working on colors.”

Colors usually consists of four individuals. The rifle guards on the ends serve as protectors of the colors, or flags, which are carried by the two in the middle.

Honor Guard members provide ceremonial support for various events such as weddings, funerals, or retirements throughout the week. However, for reservists, many of the events they participate in occur during the monthly drill weekend.

“We do a lot of retirement ceremonies and those happen during our drill weekend,” Walters said. “Luckily our leadership is accommodating and supportive. They allow us time to honor and give thanks to those who have served their time.”

All service members understand the importance of dress and appearance, but as the face of the Air Force, ceremonial guardsmen receive a well-deserved upgrade to the standard dress blues. A silver stripe goes down the sides of the pants and around the wrists of the jacket. The jacket is also adorned with a silver-braided belt, silver aiguillette, an honor guard base badge on the chest, and patch on the arm. Topping off the sleek look is a pair of white gloves and heel cheaters for that iconic, uniformed sound.

“Right now, we have about six to eight people, we can always use more.” Walters said. “It’s such a unique and cool opportunity to be a part of, especially on the Reserve side.”

For those who don the silver aiguillette, being a part of the Honor Guard is an honor itself and embodies what it means to be a part of the world’s greatest Air Force.

Those interested in joining the 419th Honor Guard can call 801-777-3967 for more information.