Team Vance Honor Guard provides pomp to ceremonies, dignity to funerals

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cameron Schultz
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Few things stir emotions more than the presentation of Old Glory.

Whether presented during a funeral to a grieving widow or widower, or when displayed proudly during the playing of the national anthem, the Airmen of Team Vance’s ceremonial Honor Guard ensure these signature moments are performed with dignity and pomp.

Comprised of 20 enlisted Airmen, the Honor Guard is the ceremonial arm of the 71st Flying Training Wing. They present the American and Air Force flags during official military ceremonies, perform POW/MIA Remembrance ceremonies for formal events and represent the Defense Department during funerals for veterans throughout Northwest Oklahoma. 

The Honor Guard’s primary job involves funeral details, said Tech. Sgt. Quinton Franklin, the NCO in-charge of the team’s Alpha Flight. Two Airmen will fold an American Flag slowly into a precise triangle of white stars on a blue field before presenting the memento of service to the surviving family.  

“Just being there for families and honoring their loved ones is an important and sobering moment,” said Franklin, a member of the 71st Installation Support Squadron. 

“The first funeral is always the hardest just because there’s a lot of emotion involved and it’s something new, but our team handles it perfectly, always professional,” he said.

The positive impact these young men and women have on the families of veterans who have died cannot be understated, said Kent Brund from the 71st Force Support Squadron, who manages the team. Knowing that one day a fellow service member will provide this service with dignity and honor provides peace of mind to every veteran. 

The team also conducts the POW/MIA Remembrance ceremony at formal military events to ensure all Airmen never forget those captured by the enemy during war time and those who are still missing in action. 

The ceremony consists of a table covered in white cloth, with symbolic items presented by a single Airmen in service dress while a script is read. The ceremony ends with a salute to the table. 

The remembrance ceremony was performed by the Honor Guard at the 8th Flying Training Squadron’s 80th Birthday Bash May 8. Airman 1st Class Kevin Gonzalez, had the honor of giving the solemn finale salute. A salute Lt. Col. Nathan Perry, then commander of the 8th FTS, said was the greatest salute he had ever seen.

The Team Vance Honor Guard is comprised of two flights, Alpha and Bravo. The flights swap on-call duties every month. The team practices on Mondays. The first Monday of the month for a full day and four hours the other days. 

The Airmen earn an Air Force Achievement Medal after serving for one year with the Honor Guard. But it’s not about earning an award, said Franklin. It’s about the sense of fulfillment that comes from serving others.