Des Moines, IA --
The hangar quiets as hundreds of military members stand at attention. Still, quiet and unmoving, they stare straight ahead.
Down the aisle marches four Airmen, clad in blue, silent and seamlessly in-step as they bear rifles and colors.
They advance to the stage, place the flags into position and salute with flawless precision. The Star Spangled Banner plays, ends and the four Airmen recede down the aisle completing their mission of honor, excellence and respect.
In November, 2016, Master Sgt. Matthew Flowers, 233rd Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group (ISRG), was awarded the Base Honor Guard Member of the Year award.
Flowers’ pursuit of excellence is fueled by the impact his duties have on the people involved.
His honor guard journey started when he was active duty at Kadena Air Base, Japan. There, Flowers learned the rigorous protocols and requirements and also worked alongside other services, gaining more knowledge about the honor guard.
When Flowers joined the 132nd Wing, he felt that he wasn’t doing enough performing just his normal duties and decided to join the wing’s honor guard team.
“I wanted to do something more than a traditional guardsman and be able to give back,” said Flowers.
Transitioning back into the rigorous training and precise movements of honor guard details took some getting used to.
“It was a little challenging at first,” said Flowers. “But after a few drills and doing a few more honor guard details, it all came back.”
Being in the base honor guard presents a variety of challenges. Members have the ability to qualify for the colors team, rifle team and funeral team. Careful coordination between team members is essential to performing a crisp and cohesive detail.
“He’s probably the most valuable member of the team,” said Staff Sgt. Marcus Goins, a targeteer with the 233rd ISRG and base honor guard member. “His ability to operate on all the different teams as well as his active duty experience allows for him to help us with every situation we face.”
For Flowers, executing a successful and precise detail is not the only reason he enjoys being in the honor guard but also the meaning behind every detail he performs, especially burials and funerals.
“Giving the remaining family members the respect for what their family member did is really important to me,” said Flowers. “To see some of the folks we’ve laid to rest is very humbling, knowing that they have done so much for us.”
Another of Flowers’ goals as the senior ranking honor guard member has been to mentor younger Airmen in the honor guard by teaching them the skills to perform their duties and by giving them a chance to take the leadership on
“Even though he’s the highest ranking member, he’s not afraid to step back and let the younger members lead,” said Goins.
Flowers plans to continue performing his duties in 132nd Wing Honor Guard.
“I love it and don’t foresee getting out anytime soon,” said Flowers.