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Ceremonies challenging for Honor Guard members

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Patrick Honor Guard members train for a military funeral detail. HG is made up of volunteer members representing various Air Force units on Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS, who serve on one of three rotating flights, for one year minimum. Getting these Airmen trained and keeping them consistently sharp is a time-consuming, behind-the-scenes effort of HG Superintendent Master Sgt. Kevin Matthews and a team of professional full-time staff members, who augment, conduct day-to-day operations, training and assist with details. (U.S. Air Force photo by Julie Dayringer)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Patrick Honor Guard members train for a military funeral detail. HG is made up of volunteer members representing various Air Force units on Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS, who serve on one of three rotating flights, for one year minimum. Getting these Airmen trained and keeping them consistently sharp is a time-consuming, behind-the-scenes effort of HG Superintendent Master Sgt. Kevin Matthews and a team of professional full-time staff members, who augment, conduct day-to-day operations, training and assist with details. (U.S. Air Force photo by Julie Dayringer)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Patrick Honor Guard members practice folding a flag for a funeral detail. HG is made up of volunteer members representing various Air Force units on Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS, who serve on one of three rotating flights, for one year minimum. Getting these Airmen trained and keeping them consistently sharp is a time-consuming, behind-the-scenes effort of HG Superintendent Master Sgt. Kevin Matthews and a team of professional full-time staff members, who augment, conduct day-to-day operations, training and assist with details. (U.S. Air Force photo by Julie Dayringer)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Patrick Honor Guard members practice folding a flag for a funeral detail. HG is made up of volunteer members representing various Air Force units on Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS, who serve on one of three rotating flights, for one year minimum. Getting these Airmen trained and keeping them consistently sharp is a time-consuming, behind-the-scenes effort of HG Superintendent Master Sgt. Kevin Matthews and a team of professional full-time staff members, who augment, conduct day-to-day operations, training and assist with details. (U.S. Air Force photo by Julie Dayringer)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The emotions, physical strain, weather and other conditions at ceremonies and events can be tough for military honor guard members to handle.

How do members of the Patrick Honor Guard meet these challenges?

"We tell our folks, 'Remember why you're there,'" said Master Sgt. Kevin Matthews, Patrick Honor Guard Superintendent. "When you're doing a fire party, standing for an hour and a half in 90-degree heat in your service dress, it can give you that extra adrenalin rush, the extra strength."

HG pushes physical fitness a bit more than some other organizations. Members must be physically fit, look sharp in uniform, plus be able to handle Florida's heat and maintain stamina.

Honor Guard service can be highly rewarding.

"We may have a detail where to us we thought we weren't so good, and then the family sincerely thanks us for being there. As soon as the families do that, your chest may stick out a little bit farther," Sergeant Matthews said. "We teach everyone to focus on how much you're helping the families, giving them closure. It's a part of their healing, and may be the last contact they have with the military. It's their last time to celebrate their accomplishments, to remember what the veteran did and what they meant to the nation."