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Honor with dignity

Tech Sgt. Cory McKelvey, 48th Fighter Wing Command Post NCO in-charge or reports (right), aids Staff Sgt. Allen Michaels, 48th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, in properly folding a flag Aug. 4 at RAF Lakenheath. Sergeant Michaels was practicing for his honor guard certification. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Tech Sgt. Cory McKelvey, 48th Fighter Wing Command Post NCO in-charge or reports (right), aids Staff Sgt. Allen Michaels, 48th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, in properly folding a flag Aug. 4 at RAF Lakenheath. Sergeant Michaels was practicing for his honor guard certification. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Tech Sgt. Cory McKelvey, 48th Fighter Wing Command Post NCO in-charge or reports (middle), observes Staff Sgt. Allen Michaels, 48th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics technician (left), and Senior Airman Michael Luna, 748 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron programs manager, while they perform a two-person flag fold. Sergeant McKelvey has been on the honor guard for six years and is one of the trainers at Lakenheath. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Tech Sgt. Cory McKelvey, 48th Fighter Wing Command Post NCO in-charge or reports (middle), observes Staff Sgt. Allen Michaels, 48th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics technician (left), and Senior Airman Michael Luna, 748 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron programs manager, while they perform a two-person flag fold. Sergeant McKelvey has been on the honor guard for six years and is one of the trainers at Lakenheath. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Staff Sgt. Robert Abato, 48th Communications Squadron military postal supervisor (right), trains new honor guard recruits Aug. 5, at RAF Lakenheath. The Lakenheath Honor Guard performs on base and all ceremonies north of the Birmingham line. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Staff Sgt. Robert Abato, 48th Communications Squadron military postal supervisor (right), trains new honor guard recruits Aug. 5, at RAF Lakenheath. The Lakenheath Honor Guard performs on base and all ceremonies north of the Birmingham line. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Honor guard members perform a six-man flag fold during practice at RAF Lakenheath Aug. 4. The RAF Lakenheath Honor Guard practices on the top floor of the Military Personnel Flight, building 977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Honor guard members perform a six-man flag fold during practice at RAF Lakenheath Aug. 4. The RAF Lakenheath Honor Guard practices on the top floor of the Military Personnel Flight, building 977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Airman 1st Class Zack Moran, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew member, spins a rifle Aug. 5 at RAF Lakenheath.  The honor guard practices every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

Airman 1st Class Zack Moran, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew member, spins a rifle Aug. 5 at RAF Lakenheath. The honor guard practices every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. These are the Air Force core values, and these core values can be seen firsthand through the RAF Lakenheath Honor Guard.

With an average of 250 details per year, the base honor guard is on the front lines presenting the colors; an Air Force tradition since 1948.

"Contributing to this extraordinary service affords and epitomizes both our core values and our rich tradition and history," said Staff Sergeant Robert Abato, 48th Communication Squadron military postal supervisor. "Upholding this heritage and representing our proud Air Force is a demonstration of respect and a show of force."

The honor guard supports ceremonies ranging from changes of command to retirement.

"The thing I like most about being on the honor guard is performing at ceremonies and having the audience appreciate what we do," said Senior Airman Michael Luna, 748 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron programs manager. "Whether it's funerals, retirements, changes of command, or special occasions like Memorial Day or Veterans Day, the ceremonies we perform at are well-deserved. Everyone who puts in time for their nation deserves to be recognized."

It can take up to six weeks of training to learn basic movements and protocol for the different types of ceremonies.

"It is a wonderful experience and different from anything else you will ever do in the military," said Senior Airman Branden Alexander, 48th CS cyber systems operator.

It starts with a volunteer. Anyone can wear the uniform, hold the flag and spin the rifle. The outcome is a Guardsman; wearing the uniform, holding the flag and spinning the rifle with honor and dignity.

"I've been on RAF Mildenhall's and RAF Lakenheath's Honor Guard since November 2005 and have learned a great deal of military customs and Air Force heritage," said Sergeant Abato. "Plus the networking and friendships have been second to none."

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