IDAHO – Members of the USDA Forest Service Honor Guard are at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho to train new members, practice drills with long-term members and attend the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Family Fire Weekend.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service Honor Guard is to honor and remember Forest Service employees who have sacrificed their lives for the safety and security of national forests, employees and the public. The Honor Guard is proud to honor these employees by providing full honors funeral and graveside services and by participating in ceremonies and official events when called upon by the Chief of the Forest Service.
For many members, their participation in the Honor Guard is the most important part of their job with the agency because it’s a way to honor fallen Forest Service employees and represent the agency at its highest standard. They can give back to the agency, fellow employees and families of employees. Members mentioned a loss of a friend in the line of duty as one reason for their involvement and that the Honor Guard sets the highest standard to promote the core values of honor, duty, integrity and professionalism.
Members share that the families see that professionalism and duty with the Honor Guard and that helps families know that the agency “has their back.” The Honor Guard strives to provides a calmness and ceremony for the families.
The Honor Guard has participated in events such as the Rose Parade or transportation of the US Capitol Christmas Tree. Those events help the agency promote pride in the USDA Forest Service and share that pride and image with the American public.
All of that takes a lot of work. So, the Honor Guard is at NIFC to drill and practice, train new members and review procedures and process for flag etiquette, flag folding, march and drill.
Honor Guard members also will be attending the Family Fire Weekend and will participate in an interagency opening ceremony and color guard ceremony (with Department of Interior agencies) this weekend.
However, the Honor Guard will also spend the day with the families of fallen firefighters. For members, this provides a chance to get to know families when their world is not upside down, reconnect with them, and support them. They can also check in with them, out of uniform, and just be people with them. Long-term members say have gotten to know families and have watched kids grow up. That’s an awesome part of being in the Honor Guard.