JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Many people often take for granted the presence of the colors during Army ceremonies and memorials. Though often seen as a nameless group, Soldiers who make up an installation's Color Guard play a pivotal role in honoring tradition and paying respect to those serving, both present and past, in the Armed Forces.
"It's a great way to remember anything and everything that is encompassed in that ceremony," said U.S. Army Spc. Sebastian Washington, 588th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), a welder machinist and member of the Ft. Eustis Color Guard training team. "From retirement ceremonies to changes of command, our job pays tribute to our nation's colors, and the hard work and loyalty of those service members to the Army."
Each quarter, a different battalion within the brigade is chosen to lead the color guard, allowing Soldiers from various backgrounds to step outside their career fields and work together to accomplish the mission.
"It's a great way for the Soldiers to network with others within their battalion who might perform different duties in their day-to-day jobs," said Staff Sgt. Darryl Tyson, 149th Seaport Operations Company, 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), a cargo specialist and the Fort Eustis Color Guard noncommissioned officer in charge. "Being a part of the color guard helps them prepare for their future careers and become effective leaders, by learning to communicate with others with whom they don't work with every day."
During the first month, the color guards train daily to perform facing movements, smooth transitions between commands, and proper flag and rifle responsibilities. Once they are able to perform these movements with ease, they continue to practice when they are not participating in a ceremony, to ensure that their skills remain precise at all times.
"It's important to practice every day so no one gets too comfortable because that's how we lose our sharpness during a ceremony," said Tyson. "Our job is to be on our game at all times during ceremonies to recognize and pay the utmost respect to those individuals we are honoring."
In addition to ceremonies on the installation, the Color Guard also participates in Joint Service Color Guard teams, working with other service branches to bring recognition to all of the Armed Forces at major events in the local community.
"Every branch has their own way of doing things and every branch thinks their way is the best," said Washington. "Being part of a Joint Service Color Guard allows us to learn what others do, how they communicate and work together to decide what works best for each individual ceremony. We can then bring what we've learned back into our units and figure out how to use those techniques ourselves."
With each performance, the Color Guard members honor those who serve currently and veterans who helped keep the United States and its people free and protected.
With each performance, the Color Guard members honor those who serve currently and those veterans who helped keep the United States and its people free and protected.