The National Air Force Memorial Honor Guard SculptureThe U.S. Air Force Honor Guard provides military funeral honors for active duty, retired members, and veterans of the USAF, and performs symbolic activities at special duty ceremonies including —
- Armed Forces full honor arrival ceremonies at the White House for the President and foreign heads of state, joint service and Air Force ceremonies;
- US Air Force precision rifle drill team exhibitions, and joint service; and
- Air Force funerals held at Arlington National Cemetery and in the national capital region.
In all Honor Guard activities, there is an emphasis on the importance of military customs and courtesies, dress and appearance, drill and ceremonies.
The Air Force Memorial, the last United States military division memorial to be created in commemoration of the four divisions of the United States’ Armed Forces, overlooks the Pentagon, Potomac River and the nation’s capital. The Air Force Memorial Honor Guard sculpture is to the Air Force what the Iwo Jima sculpture is to the Marines.
At the highest point in Arlington National Cemetery, a point of land formerly known as the Naval Annex contains three spires—the highest rising 270 feet in the air—that mark the location of this Memorial. These spires, designed to resemble the “bomb burst” maneuver performed by the USAF Thunderbird Demonstration Team, are highly visible from a distance, leading visitors to the Memorial grounds. There, the Honor Guard sculpture, standing at attention, greets the Memorial’s visitors with their solemn presence. This sculpture gives a human face to the Memorial—a powerful reminder of its purpose: the remembrance of the sacrifice and solace for those who remain behind.
The Honor Guard Sculpture
The Board of Directors of the Air Force Memorial Foundation decided to include a sculpture of the Honor Guard as part of the National Air Force Memorial.
The sculpture itself—16 feet in height—consists of four eight-foot bronze figures, patinaed in blue-gray, standing side by side, mounted on a ten- by two-foot long bronze base. Two of the figures are flag bearers, one holding an eight-foot tall United States flag and the other an Air Force flag, complete with battle streamers, each weighing 700 pounds; the other two figures, flanking the flag bearers, are weapon bearers weighing 450 pounds each. The sculpture is positioned in front of one of two inscription walls located within the Memorial’s landscaped park; the 12-inch thick walls each measure ten feet high by 56 feet.
The Honor Guard sculpture was created by Zenos Frudakis for the Air Force Memorial Foundation. Frederick Hart, sculptor of the soldiers at the National Vietnam Memorial, referred Zenos to the AFMF when the Foundation was soliciting proposals for the Memorial. Upon review of Zenos’ portfolio, the AFMF commissioned him to sculpt the Honor Guard.