The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team performed for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington on Oct. 25, for the first time since the Air Force took command of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in October 2020.
“This event showed that JBAB is part of the fabric of D.C., particularly in our neighboring wards, and we want to continue to build and sustain connections and relationships throughout the community,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Ryan Zeitler, vice commander of JBAB and the 11th Wing.
The 16 Drill Team members did more than just perform for the children. The Airmen engaged by letting them safely interact with their equipment and participated in question-and-answer sessions about military life and the intensity of their training.
“We wanted to show D.C. youth that military members are regular people just like them,” said Zeitler. “When they see us smile and have normal conversations, it bridges the natural divide that sometimes forms between the military and civilian communities.”
JBAB leadership partners with the community through many avenues, including its Honorary Commander program.
Gabrielle Webster, president and CEO of BGCGW serves as an Honorary Commander to the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard and its commander, U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Nathan Zahn. JBAB’s Honorary Commander program helps strengthen the relationship between service members and the communities of the National Capital Region. Civic leaders from throughout D.C. are matched with 11th Wing unit leaders in an effort to increase awareness of and support for the installation’s presence and varied mission sets.
“Our partnerships allow for opportunities our youth would not experience if not for BGCGW,” said Webster.
The BGCGW has a strong proven track record as a positive influence on its members.
“We provide exceptional youth development programming which helps them develop their plan for their futures, said Webster. “Our graduation rate is about 98% and the majority of our kids go to college.”
Many of the BGCGW had never experienced such personal interaction with members of the military prior to this event.
The Honor Guard Drill Team takes pride in representing Airmen to the American public and the world.
The Drill Team inspires local youth not only with its precision, but also with its diversity. The current class of ceremonial guardsmen includes two females. There have only been nine female members of the Honor Guard Drill Team in its 74-year history.
Being an ambassador of possibility to the children is crucial for their self-confidence. Representation matters, and by seeing and talking directly with the historic women on the team, the children might have discovered a career path they have never considered before.
Zeitler is proud to have such a diverse and dedicated group of role models for the BGCGW, and hopes it encourages them by showing that anyone can succeed, no matter who you are.