Tag Archives: BHG

The Air Force Baser Honor Guard Badge

The Base Honor Guard (BHG) Badge, known as the “Cookie” is a device that only Active Duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen wear when they are assigned to a BHG. Not even retirees can wear it unless they are actively working with a BHG.

I went through two weeks of honor guard training many years ago (1990) when I was stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. I then spent about fourteen of my twenty years of Active Duty on several BHGs around the globe and even attended Air Force Honor Guard training in Washington DC in 2002. I had to meet certain criteria for award of my BHG Cookie as all Airmen have to. In a personal way, the Cookie is “my” badge and all Airmen who have gone through the training and qualified can call it “my badge” as well.

BHG PictureThe picture at right is of a Spangdahlem Air Base (Germany) Honor Guard presenting the colors at St. Mihiel WWI American Military Cemetery in France in 2010, five years after I retired. I am the NCT and my friends and colleagues are with me. We are all wearing our uniform accouterments (which color bearers no longer wear) including our Cookies. You can see them on our left breast pockets of our blouses. I actually trained the two guards and knew they were qualified to wear their BHG Cookies.

What does BHG training entail so that a graduate of the training is then awarded and authorized to wear the Cookie? The training last at least 40 hours and consists of:

  1. What we call Standing Manual
  2. Colors
  3. Firing party
  4. Pall Bearers (including 2- and 6-man* Flag Fold) *”man” means position.

There are also small bases in the Air Force, mostly overseas, that are not authorized a BHG, but have what is called a Base Color Guard that is aligned under a BHG (the Spangdahlem BHG has at least one BCC at a location in Belgium). A BCC, is a small unit that is not authorized to wear the complete BHG uniform, but a variation of the standard AF uniform with the BHG aiguillette and Cookie. Any Airman assigned to either of these two units, who has gone through the training and qualified, may then wear the BHG Cookie on their BHG or BCC uniform. When they are assigned to the BHG, but not on rotation and are in blues, they may also wear the Cookie. When not assigned to a BHG, an Airman may not wear the Cookie- which is why I do not wear mine.

JROTC cadets wearing BHG CookieWhat is quite troubling to me is seeing Air Force Junior ROTC cadets wearing “my” badge. This is absolutely inexcusable with some equating it to Stolen Valor. I don’t know if I would go that far, but I have a very stern opinion about the wear of my badge by high school cadets.

Click here to see that I have dealt with this before and the picture at left, above, is what started it. The team finally realized after much discussion back and forth that they had absolutely no authority whatsoever to wear the Cookie.

Cadet BHG Cookie - CopyThe cadet at right chose to block another cadet on Instagram who was trying to communicate to her that the Cookie that she has on her uniform is not authorized for cadets to wear. Many cadets, possibly out of arrogance, do not want to listen to anyone who says that what they are doing could possibly be wrong.

What Base Honor Guard Members Need to Know: Uniform Trousers

Base Honor Guard After Posting the Colors at Rhein Mein in 2010
Spangdahlem Air Base Honor Guard After Posting the Colors at Rhein Mein in 2010

The Air Force Base Honor Guard (BHG) uniform is a modified standard USAF uniform. Stripes, an aiguillette, BHG arc and sewn creases are added like in the picture at right (that’s me, second from the left).

You may notice that the right rifle guard’s stripe on his trouser leg is slightly bunched. This is a rampant problem with BHGs around the world. Have a look at the picture below. That looks extraordinarily poor.

Screwey BHG Stripe

The stripe is supposed to be as smooth as possible, like the left rifle guard’s stripe in the picture at the top. So, why is this happening? Those who are sewing on the stripes are pulling the trouser leg much too much while sewing on the stripes. This causes bunching of the stripe as pictured above.

The Fix is in
The BHG member in charge of issuing uniforms and the NCOIC/Superintendent all need to visit the seamstress/tailor where the uniforms are altered and explain exactly how the uniforms are put together and how to obtain the perfect look. That is, if it hasn’t already been accomplished.

When I was on the BHG at Spangdahlem (as a retiree, mind you), we knew our seamstress and her coworkers by name and had an excellent relationship with them. When we graduated a T-Flight, we would escort all of the graduates over to the tailor shop and ensure all was squared away for each graduate individually. Yes, this takes time, but the outcome is as close to perfection as one can come.

All the best to my brothers- and sisters-in-arms and especially my fellow Ceremonial Guardsmen.

Installation Honor Guard Programs

You will never see an individual who does not meet the height requirement on a service drill team (there are so few exceptions, it’s not worth going into detail). Also, you will never see an officer on a service honor guard color team or as a member of the service’s drill team. The only way an officer is part of the drill team is as a commander and then he or she is not usually an integral part of the routine except for a few minutes here and there (one exception to this is the USAF Honor Guard Drill Team’s 2012 routine where the commander actually gets to catch a rifle).

So, what if you are too short to go to your service’s Presidential Honor Guard and still want to do the things they do? Join the team at your installation.

The USAF Base Honor Guard Program
The Air Force is the only service to have a full-time trained team that can go and perform a full honors funeral at a moment’s notice. BHG are at all installations across the globe. Installation location is one of the guides for the size of the team. Teams located in warmer climates where more retirees live are somewhat larger than teams at remote locations. Since Airmen are most often the only ones who are honor guard trained they end up being the go-to people for when stationed in joint service situations.

Other Service Honor Guard Programs
There aren’t any, per se. What the other services have are color guards at each base or post. There is one sergeant on the installation who is the Color Sergeant or an LPO (Lead Petty Officer) and he or she is in charge of the team. Sometimes these teams will have to put together a funeral detail and, while these teams try their best, it’s close to impossible to gather and train a firing party and pall bearers and have them perform well in less than 2 days.Some funeral tasking notifications are very short-notice.

Many funerals are taken care of by the Arny’s National Guard in each state. Each service’s reserve units also handle funerals as well.

What’s the bottom line? Check into what your installation offers and if there isn’t an ongoing program- make one! I’ll help you as much as I can.

See also my article on the AP3.