Practice makes perfect for MacDill AFB's busy honor guard

Image 1 of 5

Every move has to be just right, so they practice over and over. 

"Once you do it, it's just muscle memory," explained Josh Kim, a member of the MacDill Air Force Base Honor Guard.

Kim is a 22-year-old airman who wasn't happy when he was first assigned to the guard. "But I've been here for seven months now and I don't want to go back."

On this day, around 20 members take part in the practice -- marching, turning, manipulating rifles and meticulously folding the American flag. They practice up to four times a day. 

The guard appears at more than 1,000 funerals a year for veterans and active duty military members. They cover the entire western part of Florida; the guard from Patrick Air Force Base covers the eastern part.

"The farthest I've been is Key West," said Kim. 

In all, there are more than 40 members of the guard who are dispatched in contingents, often five to seven members, to staff a funeral. The dry erase board in their headquarters is covered with future engagements. The guard is available seven days a week.

Kim says he feels the emotion and appreciation from families at the funerals.

"Once we go back to the van we look at each other and we know that was perfect," he added.

He says their goal is nothing short of perfection.