As the nation pauses to remember those who have died in service to America, a 2015 Amherst Steele High School graduate has special responsibilities on Memorial Day, serving with the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard in Washington, D.C.
Fireman Austin Reid, a hull technician, is a key member participating in the Memorial Day parade. He performs at the Arlington National Cemetery and Navy funerals as a casket bearer three to four days a week for fallen service members.
“It is an extreme honor to pay respect to our fallen heroes,” said Reid.
Established in 1931, the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard is the official ceremonial unit of the U.S. Navy and is based at Naval District Washington Anacostia Annex in Washington, D.C.
According to Navy officials, the Ceremonial Guard’s primary mission is to represent the Navy in presidential, joint armed forces, Navy, and public ceremonies in the nation’s capital under the scrutiny of the highest-ranking officials of the United States and foreign nations, including royalty.
Sailors of the Ceremonial Guard are hand-selected while attending boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Ill. Strict military order and discipline, combined with teamwork, allow guard members to fulfill their responsibilities with pride and determination. They are experts in the art of close order drill, coordination, and timing.
The Ceremonial Guard is comprised of the drill team, color guard, casket bearers, and firing party.
Casket bearers carry the Navy’s past to their resting ground, whether at Arlington National Cemetery or another veterans cemetery.
The firing party renders the 21 gun salute, the signature honor of military funerals, during every Navy funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.
“The sailors here are true ambassadors of the U.S. Navy,” said Rear Admiral Charles Rock, Commandant, Naval District Washington. “They are part of a legacy that promotes the mission, protects the standards, perfects the image, and preserves the heritage. This elite team are ‘guardians of the colors,’ displaying and escorting our nation’s flag with an impeccable exhibition of skill and determination.”
Reid and other sailors know they are part of a legacy honoring service and sacrifice of men and women on this historic occasion.
Serving in the Navy, Reid is learning about being a more responsible leader, sailor, and person through handling numerous responsibilities.
“The Navy has made me more disciplined and focused on my long term goals,” he said.
His father, John Reid, resides in Amherst and his mother, Theresa Reid, lives in Lorain.