PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The High Frontier Honor Guard hosted its first graduation since the COVID-19 pandemic and the standup of the Peterson-Schriever Garrison Sept. 1 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
The honor guard provides public and professional support to the community including retirement ceremonies and veteran funerals.
“A lot of the services we do are the last things families see regarding the military,” said Staff. Sgt. Michael Vialpando, High Frontier Honor Guard program manager. “It's important for [families] to see us give the most respectful and proper honors they deserve.”
To become a ceremonial guardsmen at the unit, Airmen must complete a two-week, 80 hour course that covers basic protocol and a ceremonial course that teaches the Airmen how to give the proper honors at any ceremony they support.
Vialpando said there is a high attrition rate due to the intensive training. “It's not for everybody. When you do funerals, a lot of people can't bear the atmosphere. You have to have thick skin to be here. We can't have someone breakdown or lose their bearing during a service.”
Seventeen Airmen completed the training and many would describe the experience as humbling.
“With my training and the support of my team, I know we’re well equipped to provide world-class support whenever we’re tasked to,” said Senior Airman Billie Fisler, High Frontier Honor Guard flight lead and distinguished graduate.
Despite the challenges 2020 has brought, the unit stays busy. In 2019, the High Frontier Honor Guard performed 473 services, 280 of those being funerals, with numbers projected to be similar at the end of this year.
Col. Jennifer Fitch, P-S GAR vice commander and presiding officer, charged the graduates to continue perfecting the skills they have learned to honor service members and their families.
“What you do is incredible and meaningful to everyone you touch with your perfection,” she said.