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Honor is a tradition

Staff Sgt. Willette stands proudly with the Honor Guard at the 104th Fighter Wing F-100 memorial rededication. Photo: Staff Sgt. Melanie Casineau

Staff Sgt. Willette stands proudly with the Honor Guard at the 104th Fighter Wing F-100 memorial rededication. Photo: Staff Sgt. Melanie Casineau

Staff Sgt. Willette is presented the Honor Guard Member of the Year Award by Col. Marcell Kerdavid. Photo: Staff Sgt. Melanie Casineau

Staff Sgt. Willette is presented the Honor Guard Member of the Year Award by Col. Marcell Kerdavid. Photo: Staff Sgt. Melanie Casineau

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- For one member of the 104th FighterWing, being part of the Base Honor Guard in not just an additional duty, it's a legacy. 

Staff Sgt. Christine Willette of Springfield, a member of 104th Medical Group at Barnes Air National Guard Base, was recently selected as the Massachusetts Honor Guard Member of the Year. Willette was selected over Air and Army National Guard members from throughout the state for her dedication to the Honor Guard as well as her commitment to the community. 

Willette performed 27 Honor Guard details, which included both military burials and parades in Massachusetts and Connecticut. As a traditional Guardsman, she volunteered to perform these details while balancing a full-time job as a supervisor for the University of Massachusetts Transit Authority, a full-time college workload and 10-hours of volunteer work per week. 

Willette understands firsthand about the dedication required to be a member of this elite team. Her grandfather, William H. Willette, was part of the Army's "Old Guard" from 1954 through 1956, and taught Christine at a young age the importance of the sacred ceremonies performed by the Honor Guard. 

The legacy of service is a prominent part of the Willette family; her father, Staff Sgt. Ryan W. Willette, of Springfield, also serves his country as a member of the Connecticut Army National Guard. 

Honor isaTradition "Service is an important part of who I am," said Willette. "I learned from my dad and my grandfather that our freedoms are not free, and as a member of the Honor Guard, I can pay tribute to the brave heroes who have given their lives for our freedoms." 

Willette is very involved with the community. After graduating from the Air Force Junior
Reserve Officer Training Corps at Springfield Central High School, she volunteered to coach its drill teams and mentor the Cadet Corps. She has been instrumental to its success as one of her teams was recently nationally ranked among other high school programs.