Cheers of admiration and gratitude followed the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard as they marched down the streets of Chicago during two St. Patrick’s Day Parades, March 11 and 12.
Their role in both annual events was to represent Air Force Airmen to the American public and the world by showcasing their discipline, attention to detail and service to the country.
“Participating in these St. Patrick’s Day parades is a great way to engage with the public,” said 1st Lt. Riley Platt, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard standards and evaluations flight commander. “The average civilian usually doesn’t get to interact with the military often, so going out to these parades allows us to have that connection with them.”
This was the honor guard’s second time marching in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the first time marching in the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“Seeing the honor guard out here is wonderful,” said Tim Jacob, parade attendee. “They all have such a great, positive attitude. It’s great to have the military out here.”
In preparation for the parade, Airman 1st Class Alyssa VanGorder, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen, said the team practiced their formation by marching a mock parade route around their compound in addition to training five days a week and performing ceremonies on a regular basis.
When the weekend of the parades arrived, the more than 40 ceremonial guardsmen prepared uniforms, performed precise drill movements and marched a total of two miles down Columbus Drive and Western Avenue.
This community outreach event reflected the honor guard’s vision of promoting the Air Force mission, protecting their standards, perfecting their image and preserving their heritage.
“Whether it be cheers from the crowd or people coming up either before or after the parade to say thank you for our service, the gestures from the American public really make our efforts worthwhile,” Platt said.