Honor Guard Graduates First Class for 2009
By Renee Burrell
Photo/ By Renee Burrell
CLEARWATER - The city's Fire & Rescue, in cooperation with the National Honor Guard Academy, held a graduation ceremony to commemorate the end of weeklong training held here for eight honor guards January 12-16. The class was the first to graduate in 2009 at the training facility at 1716 North Belcher Road and accomplished learning two weeks of material in just one.
The class was comprised of various local law enforcement, fire and EMS agency personnel.
The group of eight graduates, who named themselves "Eight is Enough", was celebrated for their commitment to honor, dignity and respect at the formal graduation ceremony. They were: Phil Burks; Travis Connolly; Patrick Conrey; Barbara Evans; Cary Halligan; Keri Pettingill; Patrick Shroba and Kelly Terry.
The instructors for the course were: Doug Swartz (commanding officer); Pete Georgantas (executive officer); Mark Herny (senior drill instructor) and Jeff Patterson (instructor).
Clearwater Fire Chief Jamie Geer hosted the ceremony.
Chief Mike Wallace of the Florida LAST team was the guest speaker.
The training is designed to assist fire services and public safety organizations in developing and enhancing their organization's honor and color guard units. The Academy's focus is placed on the principles of: preserving pride, honor and tradition, paying attention to detail, and building a network of local and national resources.
Elizabeth Watts, Clearwater Public Safety PIO, explained the training. "The curriculum includes basic military drill and ceremony, church and casket protocol, developing department standard operating procedures for honor and color guards, public safety officer benefits, flag etiquette, proper military courtesies, 21-gun salutes, basic instructions for bagpipes, honor guard commander leadership training, an overview of various types of funeral services, and honor and color guard history."
The training combined classroom sessions with hands-on training, for realistic practice. A mock funeral at Sylvan Abby chapel and cemetery was held as part of the training. Before graduating, the class was evaluated on their command and coordination as well as their drill and ceremonial knowledge and execution.
(Courtesy Of Betsy K. Clement, City of Clearwater Public Communications)
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