This Memorial Day, as we pause to remember those who have died in service, a native of Tallahassee will be honoring fallen soldiers in a special way.
Seaman Wesley Hawkins will be providing funeral honors for fallen comrades in the Nation’s capital with the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard on Memorial Day.
According to Navy officials, Hawkins serves in the elite group as a member of the Ceremonial Guard firing party.
Hawkins is a 2012 Lincoln High School graduate. According to Hawkins, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Tallahassee.
“I learned that if you’re going to do something, give it 100 percent or don’t do it all,” Hawkins said.
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.
Navy officials say 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.
“My job is to render final military honors as well as firing cannons for arrival and retirement ceremonies,” Hawkins said.
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.
The Ceremonial Guard is comprised of the drill team, color guard, casket bearers and firing party.
“I have the honor of serving with some of the finest sailors in the U.S. Navy,” said commanding officer of U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, Cmdr. Dave Tickle. “Seeing the pride and professionalism in each of the Guardsmen makes me feel extremely proud and lucky to be the commanding officer of such an elite group.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Hawkins is most proud of receiving full honors in his platoon.
“I am most proud of this accomplishment because I learned everything there was to learn in my platoon and I was able to teach what I learned to junior guardsmen,” Hawkins said.
Officials say serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Hawkins, who has military ties with family members who have previously served.
“My father served in Army, all of my uncles retired from the Air Force and my older cousins currently serves in the Air Force,” Hawkins said. “It means everything to me to carry on this tradition.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Hawkins, as well as other sailors, are proud to be a part of a service tradition that provides unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance.
“Being chosen out of hundreds of people to be a part of the Ceremonial Guard is an honor,” Hawkins said. “It has been one of the most humbling experiences. I’ve met the President of the United States, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and several other higher enlisted personnel in the Navy as well as having the opportunity to participate in the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day festivities and the World Series parade."