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To honor with dignity

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Stephanie Serrano Official Photo

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Stephanie Serrano Official Photo

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Most people take pride in joining the military. I was no different. Somehow during my five years in the U.S. Air Force, I lost my way.

I was stuck in a rut, trying to figure out the importance of what I brought to the military. Currently, I work in Public Affairs as a photojournalist for the 19th Airlift Wing. Although my job is rewarding in being able to document historical events and tell other people's stories, I felt like I was missing something.

The Air Force Honor Guard was something I had always wanted to be a part of. However, being only 4'11,'' I'm too short. The height requirement for a female to join the Air Force Honor Guard is 5'8".

That all changed when, in November 2015, I received the opportunity to be a part of the Team Little Rock Base Honor Guard. I heard it would be challenging, but it was something I wanted to do.

As Mark Twain once said, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

I decided to be as prepared as possible prior to attending my first day. I spent hours ensuring my airman battle uniforms and service dress uniforms were in exemplary condition. 

And while I thought I was prepared, training week was not what I expected.  Despite the long hours of running through drills until our movements were perfect, I enjoyed it. Through hard work and dedication, I felt ready to execute funeral details.

I performed countless details in below 30 degree weather and freezing rain and through it all, joining the Team Little Rock Base Honor Guard helped change the way I viewed the Air Force. It made me realize that it didn't matter how much time a person spent serving, whether its four years or 20, every person makes a difference. Presenting the American flag to a service member's next of kin is a very enriching experience; you can see in their eyes how much it truly means to them. The family should never have to worry about more than being able to say goodbye to their loved one. And that's what the Base Honor Guard helps provide, a respectful way to honor and help the family say goodbye. Being a part of that made me reconnect with the Air Force.

This was a great experience -one, I would definitely be a part of again in a heartbeat.  I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity to go because it helped remind me how proud I am to be in the Air Force and serve my country. I believe every service member should experience serving in Honor Guard at least once in their career.

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