Sharp physical training for sharp Airmen

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Airmen have many duties to perform including Air Force Specialty Code-specific duties and extra assigned duties in their units. Although some Airmen may not consider it, staying fit is also a key responsibility for Airmen to fulfill.

The 319th Force Support Squadron honor guard upholds the responsibility of staying fit and mission ready by committing to five physical training sessions a week at minimum, even when traveling for ceremonies and events.

Tech. Sgt. Graeme Clouden, the 319th FSS honor guard NCO in charge, leads some physical training sessions, and he has an expectation for his Airmen when it comes to PT.

Clouden said if he, as a 32-year-old male earns a score of 98, his Airmen should be able to score 95, if not 100 on their PT tests, and his Airmen understand his expectation.

The 319th FSS honor guard has the responsibility of covering funeral ceremony details and, in the moments of honoring deceased service members, an honor guardsman is expected to remain sharp throughout the physically demanding process.

“We have to stand at attention, stand at parade rest, and hold a flag for several minutes at a time, and this PT prepares us,” said Clouden. “We hand off a flag to the next of kin and that is a moment you cannot crack under pressure; you have to stay sharp.”

The Honor Guard PT develops readiness and resiliency in the Airmen who participate, as well as provides the opportunity to unify Airmen. Senior Airman Charles Farber, 319th FSS honor guard flight leader, assists in leading PT sessions and motivates his wingmen.

“It is a team effort; everyone is pushing every single person in the honor guard unit, or other people who join our workouts. We are always going to push everyone to finish,” said Farber.

When the 319th FSS honor guard does circuit training, the goal is to complete as many repetitions as possible within an allotted amount of time. A standard 319th FSS honor guard PT session includes sprinting and jogging, in addition to full-body, compound and full-range motion exercises in a 45-minute span.

Clouden said when they started the new regiment of PT, some Airmen were used to a nonchalant PT, but the PT the honor guard does prepares them for their duties and makes everybody stronger.

While they have PT five days a week, it is not uncommon for honor guardsmen to also do PT on their own time as well to stay sharp and prepared.

Whether in Grand Forks or on the road for details, the 319th FSS honor guard Airmen know PT is a part of their duties.

“Most of us are here at the gym either before our unit PT or afterward. For the most part we all have our own workouts on top of our unit PT,” said Farber.

Clouden said many of his Airmen take advantage of 24-hour gyms and gyms in the hotels they stay in while they are on the road for details.

Passing PT test scores are an understood expectation throughout the Air Force, but the score is not the only goal or reason for staying fit. As a duty of the honor guardsmen, and all Airmen, staying fit is an important part of staying sharp, whether that is for an honor guard ceremony detail, a shift at the base gates or in-processing new Airmen, fitness prepares readiness in each job.