WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Under the shadow of the Washington Monument, the Air Force’s ambassadors in blue displayed focus and precision during a Joint Service Drill Exhibition on April 15, 2023.
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team competed alongside the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard drill teams to continue the tradition of friendly competition between services.
“The difference in preparation for a drill competition is you know that you will be preforming in front of an audience that understands the ins and outs of drilling,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dylan Meek, NCO in charge of the Drill Team. “Additionally, we are competing against the other branches which means we are performing to show that we are the best at what we do."
Hundreds gathered at the National Mall to witness the performances as the services’ representatives squared off. The exhibition was designed to communicate military precision to the public, while also building camaraderie between teams.
All team members put their ceremonial maneuvers to the test in team and small group performances. The drill teams were evaluated on their teamwork, discipline and skill. Meek spoke to the intense training his team conducted prior to the competition.
“Every year the Air Force Drill Team revamps their drill sequence,” said Meek. “This requires an eight-week camp where Airmen are practicing 12 hours a day, five days a week. Prior to the drill competition we block off two weeks strictly for perfecting all movements for the drill competition.”
For some members, this competition served as the first opportunity to represent the Drill Team on this scale. For others, like Senior Airman Christian Porter, the drill exhibition was their final performance with the team.
“I have seen many different versions of this team,” said Porter, Drill Team member. “Back in 2021, I was one of the more novice drillers and it was just a blessing to be under the wing of some of the other guys.”
Porter has been a member of the Honor Guard since 2019 and he joined the Drill Team in 2021. After joining the team, Porter discovered the current members received limited training and performance opportunities due to the pandemic, so he decided to make the most of his position when the Honor Guard resumed its global operations.
“Last year we got to go to Switzerland, Scotland and Germany, which was mine and plenty other’s first time overseas,” said Porter. “To perform in these international tattoos is like being an international superstar.”
As he transitions out of the Honor Guard, Porter expressed his excitement for what his teammates will experience and hopes to share his wisdom and lessons learned with the new Guardsmen.
“At times I feel like I haven’t left enough of myself,” said Porter. “But I see those who have recently joined our team that I have gotten the opportunity to train. They are excelling and soon enough it will be their turn to lead.”
When Honor Guardsmen near the end of their technical school training, they go to the National Mall to run among the monuments. Porter reflected on his tenure with the team, saying everything has come full circle in his final performance at the exhibition.
After a decade-long hiatus, The Joint Services Drill exhibition is set to return on an annual basis with the next event scheduled for 2024.
The Drill Team has a busy year to look forward to, including the Miami Air & Sea Show, Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.