Coast Guard Honor Guard represents U.S. during Barbados 50th Independence Anniversary

Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

“Drill Team, atten-hut! Port arms… ready step!”

The U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard perform Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, for Britain's Prince Harry, seen in the background, and Barbados' Prime Minister Freundel Stuart during the 50th Anniversary of Emancipation celebrations at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown, Barbados. 20,000 people including Barbadian pop star Rihanna attended the celebration that marked 50 years of the island's independence from England. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mike De Nyse

The U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard perform Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, for Britain’s Prince Harry, seen in the background, and Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart during the 50th Anniversary of Emancipation celebrations at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown, Barbados. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mike De Nyse

The gruff military barking from Petty Officer 2nd Class Raymond Attaway, drill master for the U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard, was all that could be heard the evening of December 1, before his team stepped on the field at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Attaway’s team took the field to perform for a crowd of 20,000 people, including Prince Harry, Fruendel Stuart, the nation’s prime minister and Barbadian pop star Rihanna, during the Golden Anniversary Spectacular Mega Concert, marking 50 years of Barbados independence from England.

More than 20 groups were on parade during the celebration, executing a series of ceremonial drill movements.

Then, the Coast Guard took the field.

The crowd was silent for the first few minutes with the exception of a few gasps of disbelief as guns mounted with gleaming bayonets whipped past the heads of the drill team members. The crowd burst into several roars each time the weapons were tossed and expertly caught without skipping a beat.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Raymond Attaway, drill master for the U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard, center, and his team perform Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, for Britain's Prince Harry and Barbados' Prime Minister Freundel Stuart during the 50th Anniversary of Emancipation celebrations at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown, Barbados. 20,000 people including Barbadian pop star Rihanna attended the celebration that marked 50 years of the island's independence from England. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mike De Nyse

Petty Officer 2nd Class Raymond Attaway, drill master for the U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard, center, and his team perform Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, for Britain’s Prince Harry and Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart during the 50th Anniversary of Emancipation celebrations at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown, Barbados. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mike De Nyse

Upon completion of the 13 minute high-flying weapon ceremonial routine, Prince Harry and Attaway exchanged salutes and the drill team marched off the field proud, poised and professional.

“I think this event went excellent,” said Attaway. “Even with all the pressure that comes with performing during an event of this magnitude before a crowd that size, not to mention in front of the Prince Harry, the team still pulled off a flawless performance. I couldn’t be prouder.”

While waiting for the ceremony to begin, several of the Honor Guard members spent time warming up and practicing their routine. It didn’t take long before they were surrounded by Bajan youth eager to learn.

“I am grateful the Coast Guard members took the time to show me a few of their routine maneuvers,” said Csaba, a 13-year-old boy and member of the Barbados Cadet Corps. “They are the real deal!”

The Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard represents the U.S. Coast Guard commandant, the Military District of Washington and the 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.

Seaman Bryan Landreth, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard departs a Barbados armory Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, to perform for Britain's Prince Harry and Barbados' Prime Minister Freundel Stuart during the 50th Anniversary of Emancipation Bridgetown, Barbados. 20,000 people including Barbadian pop star Rihanna attended the celebration that marked 50 years of the island's independence from England. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mike De Nyse

Seaman Bryan Landreth, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard departs a Barbados armory Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, to perform for Britain’s Prince Harry and Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart during the 50th Anniversary of Emancipation Bridgetown, Barbados. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mike De Nyse

“I am honored to be here,” said Seaman Thomas Dondero, an Honor Guard member. ”Having confidence is key when performing a high profile event like this, especially if your representing the Coast Guard.”

Barbados, once a British colony in the Eastern Caribbean, became independent on November 30, 1966. The first independence ceremony was accompanied by the raising of the Barbados national flag and playing of the national anthem for the first time.

The Honor Guard performs in excess of 1,600 ceremonies annually. The Honor Guard is comprised of 73 members who demonstrate a commitment to excellence every day, both on and off duty. This event was just one example of what the honor guard does best – representing their service and country proudly, with poise and perfection. Their commitment to excellence is a way of life no matter where they perform.

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