It's an honor. One that not many achieve. And, it's been attained by a native to the Twin Ports area.

Aaron Padden, a 2022 Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native recently completed an intensive ten-week training program to become a member of the elite U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard. The recognition was recently shared by the U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach.

Membership in the Ceremonial Honor Guard often comes with high visibility. It also isn't easy to achieve. According to the information shared by the Navy:

"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."

U.S. Navy Constructionman Aaron Padden only joined the military six months ago. But it's something he's always wanted to do since a young age. He shared how the branch fulfills many things for him:

"I joined the Navy because all my life, I had dreams of wanting to become a sailor. The most vital thing I have learned since joining the Navy has been to have more confidence in the decisions I make and to stop second-guessing myself."

So what does a Navy Honor Guard member do? Their primary mission is to represent the branch of 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.

Specifically, the Ceremonial Guard is comprised of "the drill team, color guard, casket bearers, and firing party".

The opportunity to provide an honor guard presence during ceremonial funerals for fallen soldiers is something that interests Padden. He explains:

"My favorite part about serving at this command, is being part of the one percent selected in the Navy to honor our fallen shipmates by assisting in their funerals at Arlington National Cemetery."

And while he's only been in the service for a short time, Padden looks forward to a long career in military service. He's also rightfully proud of what he's accomplished so far:

"My greatest accomplishment in the Navy so far, has been making it out of Alpha Company training.  I'm looking forward to creating many more accomplishments in the near future. To me, serving in the Navy means that I will be able to be of service and protect my surrounding community".

The U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard is the official ceremonial unit of the United States Navy; it's composed of 200 enlisted Navy personnel.

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