As the nation pauses this Memorial Day to remember fallen service members, a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has special the responsibility of honoring fallen comrades in the nation’s capital with the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard.
“I’m a division officer here at the Ceremonial Guard,” said Lt. Andrew Hinkley, who joined the Navy 11 years ago. “I’m here to help sailors progress through their training and help them understand the Navy, since this is usually their first assignment in the Navy.”
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 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 they are attending boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. Strict military order and discipline, combined with teamwork, allow the Ceremonial Guard to fulfill their responsibilities with pride and determination. They are experts in the art of close order drill, coordination and timing.
Hinkley attended Floyd E. Kellam High School and graduated in 2005. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2009 with a degree in communication. Today, Hinkley uses skills and values similar to those learned in Virginia.
“As a military family, I learned the importance of attention to detail,” said Hinkley. “My dad was also a naval flight officer and flew in the EA-6B Prowlers.”
The Ceremonial Guard is comprised of the drill team, color guard, casket bearers and firing party.
Casket bearers carry the Navy’s past service members to their resting ground. Whether it is in Arlington National Cemetery or another veteran’s cemetery. The firing party renders the 21 Gun Salute, the signature honor of military funerals, during every Navy Funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.