Last to let you down

Members of the CAFB honor guard practice folding a flag during Honor Guard practice. For more information on joining the Honor Guard, call Master Sgt. John Berube at 434-7004. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Members of the CAFB honor guard practice folding a flag during Honor Guard practice. For more information on joining the Honor Guard, call Master Sgt. John Berube at 434-7004. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Members of the 14th Flying Training Wing Honor Guard fold the flag during the Veteran's Day retreat ceremony in November. During the ceremony, veterans, both past and present, were honored. (U.S. Air Force photo by Elizabeth Owens)

Members of the 14th Flying Training Wing Honor Guard fold the flag during the Veteran's Day retreat ceremony in November. During the ceremony, veterans, both past and present, were honored. (U.S. Air Force photo by Elizabeth Owens)

Tim Gordon, a bigpiper from Fathers of Water Pipes and Drums of Jackson, Miss., walks through a line of CAFB Honor Guardsmen holding sabers during the Kinghts of the Round Table in May. The Honor Guard helped the 43 CAFB Group and Squadron commanders pay tribute to those who have served and where lost before us in an event which mirrors the event of King Arthur and his round table. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Tim Gordon, a bigpiper from Fathers of Water Pipes and Drums of Jackson, Miss., walks through a line of CAFB Honor Guardsmen holding sabers during the Kinghts of the Round Table in May. The Honor Guard helped the 43 CAFB Group and Squadron commanders pay tribute to those who have served and where lost before us in an event which mirrors the event of King Arthur and his round table. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The base Honor Guard helped the BLAZE Team pay tribute to Staff Sgt. John Self, a Mississippi native killed in Iraq, as they bring his remains from the aircraft to a waiting hearse. Sergeant Self was stationed at Little Rock AFB, Ark. BLAZE Team members lined the one-mile route from the flightline to the main gate as they paid tribute to the recently fallen Airman and his family. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The base Honor Guard helped the BLAZE Team pay tribute to Staff Sgt. John Self, a Mississippi native killed in Iraq, as they bring his remains from the aircraft to a waiting hearse. Sergeant Self was stationed at Little Rock AFB, Ark. BLAZE Team members lined the one-mile route from the flightline to the main gate as they paid tribute to the recently fallen Airman and his family. (U.S. Air Force photo)

COLUMBUS AFB, Miss. -- To honor with dignity.

This is the motto worn by a select group of Airmen at bases across the Air Force. While their mission doesn't put aircraft in the air, bombs on target or engage the enemy; they perform an important and final act for our service men and women.

The mission of the Columbus AFB Honor Guard is to render military honors in the area of the northern half of Mississippi and western third of Tennessee as well as represent the USAF in ceremonies and official events involving the base. The honor guard is a congressionally mandated program.

"Besides funerals, we are pleasurably tasked with doing retreat ceremonies on base for a variety of different occasions such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day just to name a few. Of course, we normally get requested to march as a four person color team in any event in Columbus and the surrounding towns for their parades commemorating these special occasions too," said Master Sgt. John Berube, Honor Guard NCOIC. "We are regularly requested to present colors at various events ranging from a Monster Truck shows or stock car races to special events at the Columbus Club."

"Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about CAFB honor guard," he said. "You don't have to spend a year on the team, you don't have to find your own replacement when you leave the team, nor will you spend all your time away from work on overnight trips."

Most importantly there is no rank restriction for the team, he said. We have very passionate and productive officers and NCO's currently on the honor guard, demonstrating that the program is open to officers and enlisted of all ranks.

"If anyone wants to join the honor guard, I encourage them to seek out and ask questions to one of our current honor guard team members," Sergeant Berube said. "This will give you a better understanding of what the team does and what to expect. Then, come see me, and we'll sit down and talk for a while."

"The beauty of this program is nothing is required other than passion," he said "I'll take anyone who presents a clean, neat and professional image in uniform. My main focus when selecting someone is that they have passion for what they are doing.

"While some people don't find that passion until they do their first detail and realize it's much bigger and more powerful than they ever imagined," he said. "I'll give anyone an opportunity to see if it's something they would enjoy doing and if it doesn't work out then I salute them for their efforts and we part ways."

"We are a very unique base within the Air Force with regards to the honor guard. Most bases have the luxury of taking members out of the work center for 120 days and the only job that person has is honor guard," he said. "Due to our small work centers we have to take volunteers and hope that the supervisors understand when the honor guard member is gone for a day. I understand that the mission comes first, that's why I get the cooperation I do with supervisors across the wing."

"I would love to see all people in the Air Force have the passion that the CAFB Honor Guard has in everything they do," he said. "If you would like to join a team that is the last to let you down, the Honor Guard has a place for you."

Editor's note: For more information, contact Sergeant Berube at 434-7004 to schedule an interview.