Sheriff's Office

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION:

703-246-3227
TTY 711

4110 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Stacey A. Kincaid,
Sheriff

Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard Welcomes New Commanders

Brian Wancik
2nd Lt. Brian Wancik

 

Brian Wilson
2nd Lt. Brian Wilson

Second Lieutenants Brian Wancik and Brian Wilson have a combined 39 years of experience with the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard as they assume command of the award winning team.

Wancik joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1996 and is currently a shift supervisor in the Adult Detention Center. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and the Virginia Army National Guard. He also brought to the Sheriff’s Office his experience as a deputy sheriff in Georgia. Wancik became a member of the Honor Guard 20 years ago. “I wanted to be part of an elite group that remains active with the community and agency events. And, of course, I wanted to look good,” he added with a smile.

Wilson began his career with the Sheriff’s Office in 1998 and is currently the maintenance supervisor for the Adult Detention Center and Alternative Incarceration Branch. He had no public safety experience prior to becoming a deputy sheriff. He joined the Honor Guard 19 years ago, not very long into his tenure as a deputy. “My grandfather was buried at Arlington National Cemetery,” he said. “The experience I had watching the burial detail stuck with me. I always said that if I could do what they did for someone, I would take that opportunity.”

Meet Wancik and Wilson

2nd Lieutenants Wancik and Wilson sat down for a Q&A about their own experiences and expectations for the team.

 

What are your favorite Honor Guard experiences and why?

Wancik: My firsts. New experiences are always the best and most challenging. My first Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Honor Guard competition, first national competition, first Redskins game and first Fourth of July Parade, to name a few.

Wilson: I love every event, even when it’s too hot, too cold or too wet. The team members make the job bearable and worthwhile even when it’s one of the saddest missions you’ve been on. It’s the camaraderie that holds it all together.

What is it like to take part in an Honor Guard competition?

Wancik: Competitions are very stressful. As an individual, you do not want to let down your team. As a team, you do not want to let down your agency. We all have to maintain our daily responsibilities and pressures of work and home. Nevertheless, we also have to be able to set everything aside to focus completely on every detailed movement with perfect timing in order to execute a flawless performance. Lastly, competitions require a great deal of trust amongst teammates. I might stress about my own performance, but in the back of my mind, I also stress about the others’ performances. All of this pressure subsides when the thrill of the win takes over. The majority of our team has had an award-winning experience in a local, national or international competition.

Wilson: Preparing for a competition is repetition, repetition, repetition until you go crazy and everyone gets it right. Even when you are away from a practice, it sits in the back of your mind. You find yourself practicing small pieces in very unusual places. I would practice calling commands on my rides home. Each member has his or her own special way of memorizing and practicing each detail. It’s when we all come together that what we have done individually determines our next individual practice time.

On a sadder note, what it is like to take part in a memorial service or funeral?

Wancik: Funeral services vary in emotional difficulty and technical complexity. The closer the deceased is to the team or the agency, the more difficult it becomes to provide these services. The level of tragedy associated with the death also plays a huge role in difficulty. Line-of-duty deaths are the most difficult. Each funeral I attend involving a grief-stricken widow or young children not grasping the totality of the circumstance has strengthened my appreciation for another day with my family. Whatever the circumstance, it is the Honor Guard’s responsibility to maintain professional composure, always remembering that our purpose is to provide the deceased with an honorable farewell for the comfort of the surviving family.

Wilson: It is a mental challenge to hold it together when everyone around you is giving in to their emotions. I stress to team members that if we do our part right for a funeral, we can give surviving family members a good memory of a very sad time.

In evaluating new applicants for the team, what characteristics do you look for?

Wancik: The Honor Guard is all about positive image. New members should exhibit a professional image, look sharp in uniform, possess strong interpersonal communication skills, and demonstrate pride in their core job function and this organization. We can teach the necessary skills to anyone willing to commit, learn and practice.

Wilson: I look for dedication and a high sense of duty. You don’t need prior experience to be an award winning member. What you do need is the drive and determination to be the very best you can be and be willing to do it as a team.

At what point do you decide that a new team member is ready to go public?

Wancik: An Honor Guard member is ready for their first mission when they demonstrate nearly perfect skills in practice. True perfection, if ever reached, only comes with time and experience. One of my most memorable Honor Guard missions was the very first time I carried the American flag. It was a joint Honor Guard mission with many public safety agencies in our area for the first 9/11 memorial service held at the county’s Public Safety Center. In addition to carrying the flag, I had the privilege of calling commands for this joint public safety team. The spectating crowd was large with media present. The only way to become active on the Honor Guard is to trust yourself and your training and jump into the fire.

Wilson: A member is ready when they can find the mistakes in themselves and correct it without being told. Ask any member and I think they will tell you that you may feel ready, but when it’s show time the butterflies abound. It’s only through stepping into the ring can you truly find out if you are ready.

Learn more about the Sheriff's Office Honor Guard.

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