SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
Training to be a ceremonial guardsman in the United States Air Force Honor Guard occurs at Joint Base Anacostia-Boiling, D.C. It is a two-month long intense program that includes everything from physical training to standing at attention as students train on color guard, firing party, pallbearers, drill team, or the Pentagon detail, consisting of a small detail of Airmen that give tours of the Pentagon.
Senior Airman Robert Day, 52nd Comptroller Squadron financial operations technician and 52nd Fighter Wing ceremonial guardsman, will be departing Spangdahlem Air Base to commence this rigorous training program and join the ranks of the more than 200 member unit.
The training for Air Force Honor Guard is similar to basic military training with some additional aspects.
Day has served for over two years on the 52nd FW Base Honor Guard team and for many, his dedication and motivation have been demonstrated time and time again.
“Airman Day is extremely motivated all on his own,” said Tech. Sgt. Cecilia Ayon, fitness center NCO in-charge and 52nd FW Honor Guard program manager. “He is already motivated to go above and beyond. He is a very dedicated worker and his spirit is in the right place. He is always looking out for other individuals.”
Day’s level of dedication and professionalism is also felt by his coworkers and fellow honor guardsmen.
“When I think of Airman Day, the first thing I think about is honor guard,” said Senior Airman Nathan Gonzales, 52nd CPTS financial services apprentice and 52nd FW ceremonial guardsman. “He is very knowledgeable on Air Force history, standards, and rules. He is the go-to guy for honor guard stuff. He is what you would think to be a guardsman. That is how I think of it. The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard is a perfect fit for him. Airman Day is also very hard working in finance. He is always willing to help if you need it.”
Day has completed over 100 missions for the base honor guard. He draws daily motivation from a strong desire to continually serve his country.
“I am excited to represent the Air Force at this level,” Day said. “I am excited to witness ceremonies such as Presidential inaugurations, Air Force tattoo celebrations, high-visibility parades, anything the Air Force Honor Guard is involved with. At any point in time I could be tasked to go to the White House and welcome a foreign head of state as well as the President and that is a big responsibility.”
Day has acquired an excellent foundation in the base honor guard while here at Spangdahlem.
“He stepped up to be the head trainer for the base honor guard in early 2018,” Ayon said. “In addition to serving as the head trainer, he has assisted me with training senior NCOs for their roles in ceremonies. He has been monumental in recruiting new members and was named Honor Guard Member of the Year in 2017.”
Day has many fond memories of his time serving on the base honor guard team. His favorite memory involves an event in Paris, France.
“We had just finished a Memorial Day ceremony there and were celebrating the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I,” Day said. “We were walking towards the changing rooms and a little kid stopped me and I remember that I had a coin in my wallet, I gave him this coin, and he gave me a hug and he said ‘Mom, I think I want to join the military when I get older.’ This kid was probably six years old, he is going to change his mind a million times before he gets to that age, but I do not think he will forget his trip to Paris when he ran into an American troop. If I could inspire someone to continue on the legacy of the U.S. military, I have done my job.”
For Airmen starting at Spangdahlem, Day suggests that getting more involved on base can resulted in increased satisfaction in both their life and job environments.
“To any Airmen who might be struggling, I would say keep your head held high and get involved,” Day said. “There is more to the Air Force than just your everyday tasks. It does not have to be honor guard, it could be First IV, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, or start something you are passionate about.”
Day hopes to return to Spangdahlem in the future and expresses his appreciation for the opportunities base leadership has provided him.
“I love the leadership here,” Day said. “I do not feel I would have the passion for honor guard that I have without the support of the leadership that we have at Spangdahlem. I could not have asked for a better first base, where everyone feels like family to me. I am really going to miss Spangdahlem and am definitely going to try to come back here.”