JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, Washington D.C. –
JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, Washington D.C. – It was a break in, but also a keeping of, tradition as The United States Air Force Band and Honor Guard prepared for an unprecedented 59th Presidential Inauguration Jan. 20.
While the COVID-19 global pandemic largely changed the event itself, it also changed the planning and logistics for the prestigious ceremonial band and honor guard, which fall under the 11th Operations Group and are part of the 11th Wing – The Chief’s Own at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
The ceremonial band honored former President Donald J. Trump in a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
This inauguration marked the 18th time the U.S. Air Force Band has participated, the first one being in 1949 with the inauguration of President Harry S. Truman.
“With this era of COVID, we focused on the departure ceremony because there was no inaugural parade or ball to perform at,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Don Schofield, commander and director of The United States Air Force Band. “COVID really changed the scope of what we presented, but we were still able to render our honors, and it was a wonderful ceremony.”
Leading up the event, each band member memorized “Ruffles and Flourishes” and “Hail to the Chief” to honor President Trump at the farewell.
“We performed honors as President Trump departed Marine One and got on stage and then when he was leaving on Air Force One,” said Colonel Schofield. “I think what we enjoyed about the experience and what I will take away is always being part of something that is bigger than ourselves. What we represent when we wear the uniform and being able to be a part of the presidential ceremony is something that we will always hold very dear.”
Welcoming the 46th President and Commander in Chief, President Joseph R. Biden, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard joined Honor Cordons and the traditional Pass in Review.
Preparing to execute such a mission perfectly to showcase excellence in front of a virtual but international audience proved challenging but attainable for the honor guard Airmen.
“It’s extremely hard to train virtually with a weapon,” said Maj. Justin Boyd, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard director of operations. “For some of the planned inauguration events, we literally had to train 81 people to be synchronized and all down to the millisecond.”
That couldn’t happen with COVID restrictions, but the honor guard’s ability to find a way to train to precision is a testament to the caliber of Airmen serving in the unit.
“The United States Air Force Honor Guard is a hand-selected unit so every single person here is literally picked to support this mission … they are truly amazing,” said Major Boyd. “The odds of being selected for something like this is a one in a million chance and I’m truly humbled to be a part of this.”
Even as plans changed during the course of the planning stages, the ceremonial band and honor guard continuously emphasized their ability to execute meticulously.
“I know there is that old saying, ‘Flexibility is the key to airpower,’ and it really was for us,” Boyd said.
Both world-renowned, the ceremonial band and honor guard presented flawless honors to the outgoing and current commanders in chief.