190th Airman honor guard at Gates event

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Angela Brees
  • 190th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Representing the Air Force in a ceremony honoring Defense Secretary Robert Gates is pretty cool, huh? That's what 190th Force Support Squadron member Airman 1st Class Joshua Epperly thought, too, when he found out he was doing just that as part of the event's honor guard.

At the 92nd annual banquet of the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas in Topeka, Kan. on Jan. 29, Gates was honored as Kansan of the Year. Gates grew up in Wichita before leaving for college in Virginia at age 17.

"When Chief [Master Sgt. Ivan] Perez asked me if I wanted to participate in an honor guard event, he didn't mention it was for Gate's ceremony," Epperly said. "I didn't know until I showed for practice, and I was like 'wow.'

The Adjutant General's Ceremonial Platoon was asked to provide the honor guard for the event. However, the platoon is only comprised of Army and Air National Guard members, and the organizers of the event wanted a representative from all five military branches.

After a few phone calls, a member of the Coast Guard, Marines and the Navy joined the Guardsmen to fill out the honor guard. However, they were not used to working together and had very little time to practice before the event. However, the event went off without a hitch as the honor guard posted and retrieved the colors before and after the awards ceremony. Epperly even received a Secretary of Defense coin from Gates.

"Listening to him talk, seeing him become emotional - it was pretty interesting," he said. "You don't hear much about people from Kansas, but someone from here got out and did something. It put a spark in the tank so to speak. If he can do it, I can, too."