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Face of Defense: Airman Credits Success to Honor Guard Service

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese 633rd Air Base Wing

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JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., March 17, 2017 — At first, honor guard wasn’t even a thought for then-Air Force Airman 1st Class Quinton Gittens.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Gittens, 633rd Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, poses for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Feb. 27, 2017. Gittens won the 2016 9th Air Force Program Manager of the Year as the Langley Honor Guard manager. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese
Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Gittens, 633rd Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, poses for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Feb. 27, 2017. Gittens won the 2016 9th Air Force Program Manager of the Year as the Langley Honor Guard manager. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese
Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Gittens, 633rd Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, poses for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Feb. 27, 2017. Gittens won the 2016 9th Air Force Program Manager of the Year as the Langley Honor Guard manager. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese Being a leader: Honor guardsman wins award
Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Gittens, 633rd Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, poses for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Feb. 27, 2017. Gittens won the 2016 9th Air Force Program Manager of the Year as the Langley Honor Guard manager. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese

Then, Gittens was tasked to join the honor guard program.

“When I started honor guard, I wasn’t the best,” said Gittens, who’s now a staff sergeant with the 633rd Force Support Squadron here.

“I was struggling pretty badly, but as time went on I ended up liking it, and I ended up doing really well at it,” he said.

Leading, Helping Airmen

For Gittens, honor guard became more than just doing details and participating in ceremonies. It became an opportunity to lead and help airmen become better.

After seven years of serving as an honor guardsman, Gitten was recognized for that leadership and received the 9th Air Force Program Manager of the Year award in 2016.

“My entire Air Force career I haven’t won any awards, until now,” Gittens said. “Honor guard has definitely rewarded me for my hard work.”

Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Gittens, 633rd Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, assists Airman 1st Class Noah Lalonde, 633rd FSS honor guard head trainer, during honor guard training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 1, 2017. Gittens has dedicated seven years to the Langley Honor Guard. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese
Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Gittens, 633rd Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, assists Airman 1st Class Noah Lalonde, 633rd FSS honor guard head trainer, during honor guard training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 1, 2017. Gittens has dedicated seven years to the Langley Honor Guard. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese
Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Gittens, 633rd Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, assists Airman 1st Class Noah Lalonde, 633rd FSS honor guard head trainer, during honor guard training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 1, 2017. Gittens has dedicated seven years to the Langley Honor Guard. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese Being a leader: Honor guardsman wins award
Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinton Gittens, 633rd Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, assists Airman 1st Class Noah Lalonde, 633rd FSS honor guard head trainer, during honor guard training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 1, 2017. Gittens has dedicated seven years to the Langley Honor Guard. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese

The Program Manager of the Year award program goes through multiple levels to determine the winner. It starts off at the base level, where individuals put in a package to be selected for the award. The package then goes up to the numbered Air Force level. This is where individuals are evaluated and compared to candidates from other bases. Next, the best candidates are chosen from their respective major command level. Lastly, those who were submitted for the 12 outstanding Airmen of the Year level are chosen.

While Gittens was very excited and accepted his award with great gratitude, he didn’t want to take all the credit.

According to Gittens, the airmen he led were his motivation. If it wasn’t for them, he doesn’t think he would have been a candidate for the award.

“Bettering someone, that is my motivation,” Gittens said. “If I reach out to you and help change your life … and I see the positive results from that, that’s my motivation.”

Gittens truly cares about the airmen he mentored, to the point where he turned down a position at the Air Force Honor Guard, since he believed he could better impact airmen at the base level.

“The definition of a true leader is having people who are willing to follow you,” Gittens said. “That’s what I lead by.”