BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA) - There's a heaviness that never becomes routine when dealing with loss of a life. For a select few airmen on Barksdale Air Force Base, their job is to show honor and reverence for the fallen.
"There's always loss involved when we're around, so it's something that these airmen are going to carry with them throughout their time in the military," explained Director of BAFB's Honor Guard, MSgt Brandon Henry, "We expect perfection out of our funeral services. We don't always get it, but we train and we train and then when we're finished with that, we train some more just ensure that we are as perfect as we can possibly be."
Airmen spend an average of 40 hours a week fine tuning their movement to ensure precision and grace.
"For us to be able to provide that final memory for the family, that final salute to the veteran after they pass, it's something you really don't get anywhere else in the military as far as satisfaction from a job well done," explained Henry.
There are 50 Barksdale Honor Guard positions on base, 25 active and 25 on reserve. Each guardsman is contracted for a year, splitting time between funeral details and their individual units.
"We cover 53,000 square mile area over Louisiana and Texas," said Henry. "Any veteran, retiree, or active-duty funeral service that happens, at least with the Air Force, we cover the military honors for those."
"It's a good thing that we do, honoring fallen veterans and retirees and active personnel in the Air Force and I enjoy it," said SRA Jonas Elzy.
No matter how many times they practice, or how crisp they may appear, these airmen grieve on the inside with the families.
"Passing the flag off you know gets even worse. Staring someone in their eyes as they're grieving over there fallen loved one," expressed Elzy.
These men and women represent airmen of the past and present, driven to excel by a sense of dedication that runs deeper than patriotism.