445th Airman proudly serves on base honor guard

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rachel Ingram
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs



Despite long hours and occasionally severe weather, Senior Airman Joseph Divish doesn’t quit. The Hawaii native is approaching his two year mark on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard and says he has no intention of slowing down.


“I’m staying as long as they let me,” he says, noting that he plans to re-enlist in November.


The detail is made up of approximately 40 members, six of whom are Citizen Airmen from the 445th Airlift Wing.  For active-duty Airmen, the standard service commitment on the detail is six months. Divish says reservists help provide continuity and training, since they often choose to remain on the detail for longer periods of time.


In April, the 445th recognized Divish with the Honor Guard Member of the Year title. The award was based on details completed, hours worked, and miles driven. Considering the pace of the squadron, Divish had no shortage of opportunities to meet the award criteria.


“We do around 4,000 funerals a year,” he says. “We’ve done up to 32 funerals in a single day.”

The majority of funeral requests come in with two or three days’ notice, but sometimes Honor Guard details are sent out to local funerals with only eight hours’ notice. Funerals take precedence over any other type of Honor Guard detail, like retirements or posting of the colors.


When asked if the Honor Guard ever has to turn down a funeral, Divish says, “We find someone. We find a way.  That person served our country and we want to honor them.”


The team is made up of three flights, Divish explains, plus a standby flight of former active-duty detail members. The flights rotate responsibility weekly, with one flight taking the bulk of out-of-area details, and the other two remaining local and focusing on training. “That flight goes the furthest, the earliest, every single day.”


On average, Divish works six days per week, and is occasionally required to report to work in the wee hours of the morning.


“Sometimes we report at 3:30 a.m.  The latest I’ve been here was 1 a.m.”


Early report times are required for details that take several hours of travel, the furthest being Traverse City, Michigan, more than 400 miles each way. Detail members take turns driving government-owned vans, and it’s rare that a detail stays away from home overnight, says Divish.


Wright-Patterson’s Honor Guard’s area of responsibility is the largest of any base honor guard in the United States and includes all of Ohio and portions of Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Details travel outside the local area almost every day, he says.

Regardless of the weather, the details perform their duties.


“We wear one uniform, whether it’s cold, hot, raining, sleeting, or anything else,” he says.

The aerial port is where Divish first developed an interest in honor guard. He says he remembers, as a Port Dawg, participating in human remains offloads while at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, for seasoning training.


“It’s good to be able to actually finish it and honor the members who served our country,” he says. “It’s a rewarding feeling.”


Next year, Divish is slated to deploy with the 87th Aerial Port Squadron as a special handling technician, then plans to return to the honor guard.


The team’s elite performance took root when Maj. Gen. Bradley D. Spacy was the 88th Base Commander from 2008-2010, Divish says. Prior to his assignment at Wright-Patterson, Spacy served as the commander of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard in Washington, D.C., from 1999-2001.


“He came here and said, ‘I want your honor guard to be the best one that could ever be,’” Divish says, “and we’ve excelled at that.”