Slide background


The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team performs for a crowd at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wis., July 29, 2023. The Honor Guard's primary mission is to deliver premier ceremonial honors and represent Airmen to the American public and the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kristen Wong)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin. (September 5, 2023): It is one of America’s oldest military traditions, rendering honors to the fallen in a solemn, dignified manner befitting their service to our nation. This sacred duty falls upon the Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team, pictured here performing for a civilian crowd, who are responsible for delivering spotless performances of ceremonial honors at military funerals (Photo credit Kristen Wong).

The Honor Guard also represents the Air Force at public and official events including the wreath-laying ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The team performs at White House ceremonies, receptions, and other state and military occasions.

As you can imagine, a posting to the Honor Guard is prestigious and highly sought after.

Air Force members from all careers and posts worldwide can apply for this special posting. If selected, Airmen are reassigned to Bolling Air Force Base for a standard tour of duty (usually 3 years) and are referred to as Ceremonial Guardsmen.

Color guard teams trace their roots to the custom of carrying the colors onto the battlefield to identify the location of the combatants and to inspire pride and confidence. The team is led by a non-commissioned officer and includes a flag bearer and two rifle guards. During funeral ceremonies, the rifle guards fire three rounds in memory of the fallen.

This custom originated with the Roman Legions who, at the end of the day’s battle, would call out the names of slain soldiers to honor their sacrifice. Today, the three fired cartridges are placed into the folded flag prior to presentation to the next of kin.

The cartridges signify “duty, honor, sacrifice.”