Whiteman Honor Guard: Serving those who served

Diligent hands ceremoniously fold the Nation's flag in preparation for the funeral of a retired Air Force servicemember.  The honor guard provides a final tribute on behalf of a grateful Nation, for those who have served their country in the Air Force.  (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Corey Todd) (Released)

Diligent hands ceremoniously fold the Nation's flag in preparation for the funeral of a retired Air Force servicemember. The honor guard provides a final tribute on behalf of a grateful Nation, for those who have served their country in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Corey Todd) (Released)

Whiteman Honor Guard members Senior Airman Geoffrey Russel, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron, and Senior Airman Cory Reinerd, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, ceremoniously fold the American flag as they practice for a funeral detail, here Tuesday, Jan. 26.  The Honor Guard provides a final tribute on behalf of a grateful Nation, for those who have served their country in the Air Force.  (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Corey Todd) (Released)

Whiteman Honor Guard members Senior Airman Geoffrey Russel, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron, and Senior Airman Cory Reinerd, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, ceremoniously fold the American flag as they practice for a funeral detail, here Tuesday, Jan. 26. The Honor Guard provides a final tribute on behalf of a grateful Nation, for those who have served their country in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Corey Todd) (Released)

Whiteman Ceremonial Guardsmen study their Career Development Course materials while on rotation, as others use the facility's new computers to complete travel vouchers.  The honor guard provides a final tribute on behalf of a grateful Nation, for those who have served their country in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Corey Todd) (Released)

Whiteman Ceremonial Guardsmen study their Career Development Course materials while on rotation, as others use the facility's new computers to complete travel vouchers. The honor guard provides a final tribute on behalf of a grateful Nation, for those who have served their country in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Senior Airman Corey Todd) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The cold, stainless-steel and bland concrete that make up the Whiteman Honor Guard facility here, a former cold-storage facility, are slowly melting away, as the warmth of carpet, drywall, and furniture come together to create an atmosphere full of life, where death once resided.

Tech. Sgt. Dave Giberson, NCO in charge of Honor Guard, brought about this change, and several other transformations, in his first year at this special duty assignment.

"It's a lot more efficient, that's for sure," said Sergeant Giberson. "We've also been able to enhance training and increase morale with the changes we've made to the facility."

Drywall, carpet and furniture now adorn what used to be the main freezer room. The room was divided in half to create a conference room as well as men's and women's locker rooms.

"We are very pleased with the results here," said Senior Airman Corey Todd, Alpha Team Leader. "The facility is really taking shape."

The changes are not only cosmetic, as the growing honor guard presents the Colors at more and more civic events, representing the Air Force to the local community.

"Ceremonial Guardsman are picture-perfect examples of individuals who are highly motivated, maintain exceptionally high standards of conduct, and exude enormous amounts of pride in all they do," said Sergeant Giberson. "As Ceremonial Guardsman, we are ambassadors when we are at civic events: bringing credit to the United States Air Force and honor to the United States flag."

Last year, the honor guard completed more than 800 details, covering an area of responsibility that encompasses more than 70,000 miles.
"We averaged nearly 150,000 miles of travel last year," said Sergeant Giberson. "We are now able to do more and more."

Sergeant Giberson and the 509th Force Support Squadron leadership have worked hard with other units to recruit volunteers for honor guard duty.

"One of the biggest things we've been able to accomplish here, is to incorporate the 442nd Fighter Wing, the 509th Security Forces Squadron, and soon, the 131st Bomb Wing into our mission here," said Sergeant Giberson.

Senior Airman Adam Catts, of the 442nd FW, one of three reservists on active duty orders for honor guard, and Bravo Team Leader, enjoys his job.

"I love it," said Airman Catts. "This is a great opportunity for me to grow my leadership skills, as well as make some good friends."

Sergeant Giberson and Airman Catts agree that change is also evident in the Airmen who take part in honor guard.

"It's an honor to watch these young Airmen come in for their first rotation, all timid and shy, and by the end of that first rotation, they really open up and become part of the team," said Sergeant Giberson.

Having brought to life, the once cold and impersonal freezer, the team takes great pride in the services they are able to provide the living and the deceased.

"We are providing a final tribute on behalf of a grateful nation, for those who have served their country and we must always remember their service and sacrifice," said Sergeant Giberson.