Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Airmen to support presidential inauguration

by Lt. Col. Jay Delancy, Armed Forces Inaugural Committee

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- More than 85 Airmen from 30 different Air Force bases formed the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing in September to support the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee in Washington.

The 320th AEW members will combine with members from the other military services to provide ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration Jan. 20

Led by Maj. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II, the Air Force District of Washington commander, the 320th AEW will have almost 200 Airmen on the ground in support of inaugural events. Other Airmen supporting the inauguration will be Air Force Honor Guard members, Air Force Band Airmen, military assistants, drivers and contingency support members.

On Inauguration Day, the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee will include more than 740 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard members. In addition, thousands of other servicemembers will join the celebration by either marching in the parade or participating in an honor cordon along the two-mile parade route from the Capitol to the White House.

"This is an air and space expeditionary force deployment for Airmen assigned to AFIC," General Jodice said. "They will receive credit for this deployment just as they would for a deployment overseas."

AFIC was established in the 1950s to serve as the Department of Defense liaison to the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. It's a joint service committee charged with coordinating all military ceremonial participation in the inauguration, including musical units, marching bands, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons.

"The armed forces participation in the presidential inauguration is a centuries-old tradition," he said. "We use it to celebrate our democracy, honor our new commander in chief and recognize civilian control of the military."