by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
1/13/2016 - HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Penn. -- The 111th Attack Wing's rejuvenated honor guard conducted its initial run-through Jan. 9, at the base basketball court here.
During the opening exercise, the 17-member team assembled to learn basic
movements under the watchful eye of Senior Master Sgt. John Heidrick,
111th ATKW Honor Guard NCO in charge.
The Pennsylvania ANG installation has been undergoing sweeping changes
in recent years, from airframe withdrawal to mission restructuring, and
the honor guard has followed suit. While still steeped in tradition,
these modernizations serve to ensure the Wing remains relevant in
today's military and distinguishes its members as critical players in
many realms of military involvement: combat, humanitarian and symbolic.
"We're standing up new missions, like the [remotely-piloted aircraft]
mission, and reinventing the honor guard, but we also have a very rich
heritage that I think we have a responsibility to honor," said 1st Lt.
Gordon Beecroft, the 111th Operations Support Squadron chief of
intelligence operations and the honor guard's officer in charge. "From
the honor guard's perspective, the men and women who have served over
the last 90-plus years here still deserve respect, whether it's veterans
who retired in the past 10 years or veterans who retired 30 years ago."
Beecroft continues by saying that the honor guard here wants to uphold
that legacy, while at the same time, have the opportunity to shape their
own future. That future lay upon the shoulders of less-experienced
Guardsmen being trained by veteran members.
"The younger members bring enthusiasm and passion right out of the
gate," said Beecroft. "We see that they have a desire to execute those
maneuvers and it brings youthfulness and energy to the group."
For the new honor guard members, being green might be a key to exemplifying the blue of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.
"I think [younger members] bring a fresh role to honor guard," said
Airman 1st Class Phillip Justus, a 111th ATKW Communications Flight
network administrator and new base honor guard member. "We can inspire
younger people when we're in the public spotlight...we're representing
military youth at events."
Heidrick has been an honor guard member for 17 years, serving as NCOIC
for 11 years. Like Beecroft, he sees the future of the 111th ATKW Honor
Guard in the new faces that appeared at that first training.
Heidrick said that the idea of being part of something bigger then
oneself, as well as the gratification obtained from being part of the
prestigious honor guard, is what attracts younger members. He also
pointed out that the new members help to refine the skills of more
"They're brand new," he said. "Everyone who's been on the honor guard
before has had to reach back to the basics to start from ground zero
again and build up. Now that we have a lot of new members in, we're all
training the same. And when you train the same, you perform the same -
the flow is there. These younger members are our fresh start."