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Drill Team
The Beale drill team practices a new routine May 24 outside building 1086. The drill team has been practicing various drills and learning new moves since April. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class David Tracy)
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Honor guard Airmen form Beale Drill Team

Posted 6/15/2010   Updated 6/15/2010 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Chuck Broadway
9th RW Public Affairs

6/15/2010 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- At every ceremony and other events on base and throughout the community, the Beale Honor Guard is called upon to present the colors, fold a flag or carry out full honors for a fallen veteran. To provide the sharpness and precision movements of these ceremonies, honor guard members spend hours honing and practicing their movements.

Recently, 10 members of the honor guard have branched out to add a new demonstration to their routine. For the past month, they have been perfecting the close-quartered, precise spinning, flipping and stomping of ceremonial rifles as part of the newly formed Beale Drill Team.

Senior Airman Joshua Knaeble, assigned to the 9th Maintenance Squadron, came up with the idea to form a drill team and they have been working diligently to create a five- to seven-minute performance in an effort to provide a "wow" factor and to compliment the honor guard.

"We're trying to get our name out on base and around the area," Airman Knaeble said. "People have already noticed us just from practicing."

According to Airman Knaeble, a lot of times, the honor guard does colors presentations off base -- not necessarily because people want the colors, but because they want the base participation. The drill team will give them something more than just presenting colors.

Their first performance was at a local church for a Sunday school class. At these performances, the team performs basic drill movements such as shoulder rolls, side orders and hand offs. Their big feature is called "the gauntlet" where the team performs a synchronized shoulder roll in two close columns while the team leader passes through the center, narrowly avoiding the rifles.

Airman Knaeble, the only drill team member with previous experience, said the team is far advanced in their skills than he expected them to be after one month of practice.

"This group learns a lot faster than I did," he said. "Usually when we're learning a move, I'll start with the basics and work on sharpness and go from there."

The team practices three to four hours each day and sometimes practices when off duty. Team members are hoping this enthusiasm transfers into the community as an alternative to funeral services and colorguard presentations.

"Honor guard itself helps you learn and be professional," said Senior Airman Cortney Reeb, a drill team member from the 9th Physiological Support Squadron. "If we do everything perfect at a funeral, it feels good rendering those honors, but it's still a funeral so it's not something you can really celebrate. With drill, it feels good performing in front of people, seeing their reactions and how much they enjoy it."

Airmen Reeb and Knaeble are hoping to hear the crowd cheer at least once or twice a week. The team can be scheduled to perform as a standalone act or in conjunction with other honor guard demonstrations. The honor guard has traveled as far as Oregon and Nevada and Airman Knaeble said the drill team will travel just as far as the honor guard to events and ceremonies.

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