Date: November 19, 2007
About: Lacey Davis - Class of 2000
QHS Graduate Serving in Elite U.S. Navy Unit
The hardest thing Lacey Davis has to do is just stand there — without moving, for hours at a time.
Airman Davis, a 2000 Quincy High School graduate, is a highly visible member of the Navy. At any public ceremony where the Navy is represented, she is likely to be present in her role as a member of the Ceremonial Guard's firing party.
The biggest event in her short career with the ceremonial detail has been taking part in the retirement ceremony for Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"That's part of my job that I get to be around these dignitaries... I would never be able to do this if I weren't in the guard. I'm very proud of it," she said.
"(Recently) we did a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the President of Mongolia. Tomorrow we do a ceremony for a Navy SEAL getting a Medal of Honor (posthumously). The next day we could do four full-honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery," she said.
Some days start before dawn and end after sunset. "We never know what we're going to do. It depends on the day and what's going on."
A daughter of Greg and Glenda Mann, Davis joined the Navy eight months ago and volunteered for the guard after boot camp. She had the right attributes: Women in the guard must be at least 5 foot, 9 inches tall, wear no glasses, and have a security clearance and a good general appearance.
In four months of training she learned ceremonies, how to perfect her uniform, and how to handle a gun. After graduating at the head of her class, she became one of five female guard members and the only one serving on the rifle team.
Guardsmen serve two years without advancing in rank. Afterward, she will train as an aviation machinist mate and serve for four more years. She plans to go back to school while in the guard, and to re-enlist for another two- or four-year stint.
The guard is considered the third-hardest division in the Navy, after the SEALs and special ops. At least 10 percent of the volunteers fall out.
"The training is really hard," Davis said. "The hardest part of our job is just standing there and not moving."
Davis trained by running and lifting weights five days a week.
"They test you by making you stand there in the cold for one hour or three or four," she said.
She and her fellow guardsmen share tips about how to make the time pass.
"We learn how to focus, but not focus on being there, standing," she said. "I try to think of anything that will distract me." The trick is to stay alert so she can respond to commands, she said. "It's a challenging job."
Guardsmen also share tips on caring for their uniforms. Davis spends hours making sure everything is clean and pressed, including her leggings, and polishing her brass belt buckle which is easily scratched.
"We pride ourselves in being the best of anyone in the Navy," she said. "We strive for perfection. We have a saying: Perfection is good; excellence will be tolerated."
The importance of her role was recently brought home to Davis when she realized the burial detail was collecting the body of her friend, a woman sailor who killed in Bahrain recently. She was to take part in the funeral ceremony.
"It was a really big eye-opener," she said. "It made me realize I'm not just doing a job ... I'm doing something for my friends."
Contact Staff Writer Holly Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 221-3374
ABOUT THE GUARD
Established in 1931, the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard is based in Washington, D.C.
The Ceremonial Guard's primary mission is to represent the Navy in Presidential, Joint Armed Forces, Navy and public ceremonies in the nation's capital under the scrutiny of the highest ranking officials of the United States and foreign nations, including royalty.
Approximately 180 enlisted men and women are in the four platoons — drill team, color guard, rifle firing detail and casket bearers. Assignment is usually two years.
Training is eight weeks long, followed by eight to 12 weeks of intensive drill training.
The guard marches at a cadence of 110 steps per minute. Movements are refined and practiced until they appear as a single precision motion when performed.