FYI: Service honor guards are made up of all kinds of different members from all kinds of different military specialties. While the honor guard may have a specialty code (MOS/AFSC), the member’s “real” job is what that Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman or Coastie will eventually go back to, unless he/she decides to retrain. If the individual went directly from Basic and was never assigned another job, they will go directly to training upon leaving the honor guard.
How to join the Army Honor Guard (Old Guard)
The Old Guard has a complete web site with information on how Active Duty Soldiers can join. For those wanting to join right out of Basic Training, here is a note from Regimental Recruiter SFC Hector Milian, “Soldiers going through Basic Training and AIT can volunteer by contacting myself or the AIT TOG Recruiter and filling out a volunteer statement requesting to come here if they meet the qualifications necessary. Once they are screened and they meet our criteria, the volunteer statement is approved and sent to the assignment manager requesting that they are placed on assignment instructions for here. Office: 703-696-3007 DSN:426.” TOG
How to join the Marine Corps Honor Guard
The Marine Corps honor guard recruits Active Duty Marines in all Military Operational Specialties. Silent Drill Platoon Marines are individually selected from the Schools of Infantry located in Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., based on interviews conducted by barracks personnel. Once selected, Marines are assigned to Marine Barracks Washington (MBW) to serve a 2-year ceremonial tour. MBW
How to join the Navy Ceremonial Guard
The honor guard picks you up right out of boot camp (we have officers and petty officers that come here from the fleet, but they don’t perform the more honorable ceremonies, they are more of the supervisors and commanders calling the moves to the rest of the honor guard). In boot camp there is a briefing that happens usually around week 3 or 4. At that briefing they will talk about what you do at the guard along with the four different platoons (casket bearers, colors, firing party, and drill team). From there they will tell you about a briefing the next day that will be the interviews for anyone interested in what they heard at the briefing (giving you a night to really think about it). From there they will interview you, asking why you want to join, what your rating is, etc. The honor guard requires you to be at least 6 feet tall if you are a male and I think 5’9″ for females (I might be wrong on the females height though), any rating that requires secret or top secret security clearances usually will not be permitted to go to the guard, and no tattoos may be visible on the face along with any facial scars. Other than those major disqualifiers the guard pretty much accepts everyone to my knowledge.
The best way to approach getting into the honor guard is tricky, seeing as how every division that passes through basic training is not necessarily invited to the briefing. The only thing I can say about that is if they can get into a 900 division in boot camp (kind of a boot camp version of the honor guard), they usually get invited to the briefing, or if you talk to the RDC’s about the guard they should know what you’re talking about, though I’m not positive that they will be able to get an invite -SN Childs. A good article on this is here. Their page is here.
For Basic Training Recruits: Talk with your recruiter from the first moment and make sure everyone in your Chain of command in Basic knows that you want to join the honor guard. The honor guard actively recruits from Basic with briefings there on a regular basis.
For Active Duty Airmen: Generate a special duty application that includes all the necessary documentation (See SPECAT or contact firstname.lastname@example.org). Mail Package to:
USAF Honor Guard
50 Duncan Ave. Ste 1
Joint Base Bolling-Anacostia, DC 20032
Once packages are received by the USAF Honor Guard the routing process begins. All packages are reviewed by the following offices: Unit Security, Recruiting & Admission, Operations, Chief Enlisted Manager, and the unit Commander.
Once the approval process is complete by the hiring authorities your information will be forwarded to AFPC for functional release from your primary AFSC. Upon approval from the USAF Honor Guard hiring authority, the members Functional Manager (FM) will be notified for release for the special duty assignment. Once the Career Field Manager approves your release from your current AFSC the USAF Honor Guard leadership is notified and the assignment process begins. Finally, the applicant will receive a letter from the USAF Honor Guard leadership on your selection for the special duty assignment. Member’s local MPF will receive assignment RIP and forward it to your Unit CSS. PCS orders should be generated shortly thereafter. From AFHG
How to join the Coast Guard Honor Guard
The Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard represents the Commandant, the Military District of Washington and the United States Coast Guard through ceremonial operations held before world leaders and dignitaries. Ceremonies can include parades, funerals, White House dignitary arrivals, as well as presenting colors at local and official functions. Honor Guard members participate in joint service activities as well as Coast Guard functions. The Honor Guard performs in excess of 1,600 ceremonies annually. The Honor Guard is comprised of 73 members, with a Lieutenant (O-3) serving as the Honor Guard Company Commander, two Junior Officers (usually O-2) serving as Operations/Weapons Officer and Supply/Training Officer, a Chief Petty Officer (E-7) as the Honor Guard Chief, and four Petty Officers (ranging from E-4 to E-6). The remaining members of the Honor Guard are “first-tour” non-rated personnel (E-3) coming directly from Training Center Cape May. The officers and non-rates serve a two year tour of duty in the Honor Guard, while the Chief Petty Officer and Petty Officers serve four year tours. See also here.