JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, Washington, D.C –
The United States Air Force Honor Guard welcomed six new members into The Order of the Praetorian during an annual induction ceremony June 24, 2022.
The Order of the Praetorian is a select group of top-performing Ceremonial Guardsmen of all ranks, backgrounds, and specialties. Those chosen as Praetorians embody the Air Force core values and the Honor Guard spirit to the highest degree.
The Airmen inducted were:
Tech. Sgt. Brandon Jones, of Boise, Idaho
Tech. Sgt. Casey Randolph, of Lowell, Michigan
Tech. Sgt. Charles Schlichtmann, of Cambridge, Minnesota
Staff Sgt. Robert Day, of Dayton, Ohio
Staff Sgt. Jeffery Herron, of Mesa, Arizona
Senior Airman Brooke Sanchez, of Moreno Valley, California
"Being a Praetorian is about taking the foundation of what it means to be a Ceremonial Guardsman and embodying the highest level of professionalism, and ensuring every level of Ceremonial Guardsmanship is done to the highest standard," said Staff Sgt. Jeffery Herron, Assistant NCO in Charge of formal training.
The criteria to be selected as a Praetorian is extensive. These inductees passed a selection board following a nomination by their chain of command or a current Praetorian. To be eligible for consideration, they each completed a minimum of 250 ceremonies, and exceeded the standards during physical fitness and inspections.
"Members inducted into the Praetorian Order embrace the Honor Guard as a lifestyle. For them, it's a calling," said Chief Master Sgt. Kelly McKinley, Honor Guard superintendent, standardization & evaluations.
The origins of the Praetorian Order date back to 2007, designed as a way to motivate Ceremonial Guardsmen to embrace their squadron's heritage and strive for excellence. The inspiration and name of the program come from ancient Rome and symbolism the Honor Guard is closely tied to.
"The Honor Guard's emblem includes a Roman helmet meant to symbolize the Praetorian Guard," said McKinley. "These hand-selected soldiers were formed into an elite protectorate and are considered to be the original Honor Guard of the Western world. It is this symbolism that inspired the creation of the Praetorian Order."
Fueled by its history, today the program aims to give recognition to the best of the best, regardless of rank or time in service.
The most junior member inducted into the Praetorian Order this year was Senior Airman Brooke Sanchez, controller, Mission Operations Center. This month marks her three-year anniversary of joining the Air Force. She touched on the challenge of being a young Ceremonial Guardsman.
"I feel like it's harder for Airmen getting here for your first duty station. You are kind of lost," said Sanchez.
Young Airmen are able to develop under the tutelage of more experienced members. The Praetorian serves as a great way to connect Ceremonial Guardsmen of past and present, creating a chain of mentorship that carries over the years. For Sanchez, she did not have to look far to find her mentor.
"My husband was inducted into the Praetorian last year. I have followed his footsteps since I have gotten here, and he has guided me to the right place," said Sanchez.
Being a member of an elite unit can make it difficult to stand out. These Airmen found a way to excel in every aspect of their duties, earning them this distinction.
McKinley emphasized the importance of having outstanding Airmen who go above and beyond to fulfill the Honor Guard's mission.
"Honor Guards exist to protect and remember our dead," said McKinley. "This duty differs from other guard duties in that what we guard and protect, often, cannot be seen or touched. We safeguard our values, morals, and ideals. To do this effectively, integrity, excellence, and service before self are musts."