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News | Jan. 19, 2022

West Virginia schools welcome The United States Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team

By Tech. Sgt. Corey Hook Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs

The United States Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team visited Shady Spring High School and Greenbrier East High School to perform and interact with students and teachers in southern West Virginia on Dec. 10, 2021.
 
The team performed twice for each school to allow every sophomore, junior and senior to see a drill performance that was for most, their first. A standard drill team performance features a professionally-choreographed sequence of weapon maneuvers, precise tosses, complex weapon exchanges and a walk through the gauntlet of spinning weapons.
 
Following the performances, members of the team answered questions from the audience and students took turns grabbing photos with the team members.
 
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Sweeney, a ceremonial guardsman and 2020 graduate of Shady Spring High School, played a key part in setting up both events. He and his recruiter, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Franco Pace, stayed in contact and helped coordinate both events. Pace recruited Sweeney during his senior year of high school.
 
“I’m hoping that my team and I have been able to inspire some students to join the Air Force,” said Sweeney. “In my opinion, the Air Force is the way to go, so hopefully we have some recruits that come out of these performances.”
 
Both Sweeney and Pace gave speeches to the crowd after the performances.
 
“During my time in recruiting, this will probably be my most memorable event,” said Pace. “To have someone that I have put in the Air Force come back to their home to perform is just incredible.”
 
The drill team serves as the lead office for Honor Guard recruiting efforts. They work with the Air Force Recruiting Service to provide presence in hundreds of locations. U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Casey Randolph, flight chief for the drill team, leads and guides the team throughout their recruiting efforts, such as at high schools.
 
“An important part of our mission is to recruit the best and brightest men and women for the future force,” said Randolph. “We do this by demonstrating the precision and professionalism our drill team is known for. We also have a unique opportunity to put faces and names to service men and women by having personal interactions with students, faculty, and the communities we visit.”
 
The team tours various Air Force bases and performs community events across the globe, including performances to the thousands who visit the Nation’s Capital each year. The drill team averages between 100-150 performances a year, showcasing the elite Air Force capabilities and heritage in order to inspire audiences worldwide.