The hearty yell of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard’s narrator was followed by a wave of cheers through the crowd of Disneyland onlookers, ranging from nostalgic veterans to curious children.
The “Ambassadors in Blue” laced these announcements throughout each drill routine during their recent tour of Southern California where they performed at Sea World, Disney’s California Adventure Park, Disneyland and Mission Beach from June 27 to July 1, 2017.
“We came to Southern California as an outreach to the target-rich audience you find at (theme parks),” said Master Sgt. Jason Evans, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard drill team superintendent. “There are people from all over the world here and part of our mission is to recruit, retain and inspire.”
In an effort to make a grand appearance among such a diverse audience, the group travelling to the Golden State consisted of 42 Airmen who performed complex routines involving a choreographed sequence of weapon maneuvers while maintaining a sense of professionalism and pristine appearance when in uniform.
“We want to reaffirm the public’s trust, reach out to anyone in the armed forces to inspire them, and also influence younger people to recruit them,” Evans said.
In order to perform across the country with collective accuracy, the team practices on a daily basis, all year.
After developing a routine involving honor guard, color team and drill team members, the group practiced it approximately six times together before leaving Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, District of Columbia, and prior to the start of each performance day on the trip.
“(Earlier this year), the drill team had to develop a new sequence and it takes a lot of work,” Evans said. “We put about 20 hours of training into it before we got here. It’s important to make an impact because the crowds are large, they’re excited and they’re from all over.”
Their efforts were recognized when audience members approached the group following some performances and gave their feedback to the members.
“The fact that they are traveling around the country makes everything so personable,” said Sherry Arnold, a first-time audience member of a U.S. Air Force Honor Guard performance. “I want the generations coming after us to appreciate the sacrifices that are made. I hope they’re being inspired to possibly one day serve our country by seeing these mighty Airmen.”
The honor guard’s mission comes full circle every time they have the chance to perform for a public audience and when they’re reminded of their purpose.
“The Air Force stresses concentration, attention-to-detail, and consistency, so our unit is meant to embody that,” said Airman 1st Class Anthony Glisson, a U.S. Air Force Honor Guard instructor. “This whole trip is to show that we represent the Air Force and we want to spread knowledge as ambassadors.”