By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach
MILLINGTON, Tenn. – A native of Wausau, recently completed an intensive 10-week training program to become a member of the elite U.S. Navy Honor Guard.
Seaman Jordan Wooldridge, a 2021 Wausau West High School graduate, joined the Navy six months ago. Today, Wooldridge serves as an U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guardsman.
“I joined the Navy because I wanted to follow in my family’s footsteps to serve in the Navy,” Wooldridge said.
Established in 1931, the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard is the official honor guard of the U.S. Navy and is based at Naval District Washington Anacostia Annex in Washington, D.C.
According to Navy officials, the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard’s primary mission is to represent the service in Presidential, Joint Armed Forces, Navy, and public ceremonies in and around the nation’s capital. Members of the Navy Ceremonial Guard participate in some of our nation’s most prestigious ceremonies, including Presidential inaugurations and arrival ceremonies for foreign officials.
“What I like best about serving at the guard, is being able to honor those who have served in my own branch and give them the utmost respect I can give,” Wooldridge said.
Sailors of the Ceremonial Guard are hand selected while they are attending boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. Strict military order and discipline, combined with teamwork, allow the Ceremonial Guard to fulfill their responsibilities with pride and determination. They are experts in the art of close order drill, coordination and timing.
The Ceremonial Guard is comprised of the drill team, color guard, casket bearers and firing party. Casket bearers carry the Navy’s past service members to their resting ground whether it is in Arlington National Cemetery or another veteran’s cemetery. The firing party renders the 21 Gun Salute, the signature honor of military funerals, during every Navy Funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.
Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Wooldridge is most proud of completing the initial training needed to become a guardsman.
“It was tough at times but in the end, it raised my personal standards,” he said. “Hard work isn’t enough. You need to be motivated and have the drive to be better and do better in the day-to-day grind.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Wooldridge, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“Serving in the Navy means I can work my hardest and be proud of the work that I do here,” Wooldridge said.