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Air Force Staff Sgt. Henry Is Part of Inauguration

Jan. 13, 2005 – For this country's movers and shakers, the upcoming presidential inauguration will be the hottest ticket in town. Cabinet appointees, members of Congress and the Senate and the country's top socialites will all be scrambling for access to front-row seats at the swearing-in ceremony, as well as to the galas and balls that will enliven the nation's capital that evening.
For the son of a Christiansted couple, there will be no ticket required to get a front-row seat to history. Air Force Staff Sgt. Winston P. Henry Jr., son of Winston Sr. and Mathilda Ramos of Castle Coakley, Christiansted, is a member of the Air Force Honor Guard, one of several military ceremonial units stationed in the nation's capital responsible for providing ceremonial support to the inauguration and many of the following festivities.
Henry is a ceremonial guardsman assigned to participate in the Jan. 20 inauguration process.
"My unit and I have been practicing almost daily for this because it is a historic event and we want everything to go smoothly," Henry, a 1998 graduate of St. Croix Educational Complex, said. "I will be part of the parade formation, which involves 81 soldiers and a lot of concentration."
Ever since components of the Continental Army escorted George Washington to Federal Hall in New York City for the nation's first inauguration, the military has had a role in the swearing-in of U.S. presidents. Henry, along with the other ceremonial units in the capital region, continues that tradition spanning more than two centuries.
"We will be involved in the ceremony by providing cordons, color teams, presidential escorts and parade formations," he said. "We will also have ushers and joint service teams, so our presence will be seen from all corners of the spectrum."
Only the military's best get to be a member of one of the nation's top ceremonial units and the selection process is one of the toughest tests these service members will ever go through. "In order to be selected for the honor guard, I had to submit an application which included photographs, performance reports and letters of recommendation from my former commander and first sergeant," he said. "I was the only person to be selected from about 15 people in my base. Later, I attended an eight-week technical training school that tested me mentally and physically and where I earned my badge as a ceremonial guardsman."
The service members who make up the capital region ceremonial units also reside in the Washington, D.C., area, which can be both fun and challenging. "Life in D.C. is very hectic and exciting, which is okay by me," he said. "I've been exposed to a wide variety of new foods and cultures and I'm very close to our country's history and museums. It's an interesting place to live."
For Henry, and other members of the military's top ceremonial units, the hottest ticket in town comes with a price tag made up of hard work and a commitment to be the best our country has to offer.

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