Two local men stepped from the shores of Lake St. Clair to the biggest stage in football on Sunday.
St. Clair Shores natives US Navy Ceremonial Guardsman Seaman Gavin Smith and US Air Force Honor Guard, Airman 1st Class Justin Chambe will stand side by side at Super Bowl LVI’s SoFi Stadium as members of the Joint Color Guard.
Smith and Chambe are childhood friends and both graduated from Lake Shore High School.
“When I was told I was selected to go to the Super Bowl, I thought they were joking,” Smith said. “It took me a minute to realize what had happened.”
As a bonus, Smith celebrates his 21st birthday on Super Bowl Sunday.
Both Smith and Chambe are members of the most prestigious ceremonial honor guard in their services, who participate in national-level ceremonies throughout the year.
Smith joined the Navy in February 2020. While undergoing basic training, he was selected to join the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard (USNCG) after meeting physical requirements and passing a rigorous interview process . He now represents the Naval Service at presidential, naval, military and public ceremonies in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Over the past two years, he’s proven himself to be an outstanding member of the color guard, earning him a spot on the court in the Super Bowl.
Chambe joined the Air Force in August 2019 and followed a similar path to Smith in that he was selected to become a member of the USAF Honor Guard (USAF HG ) during basic training. He has been an outstanding member of the Guard for the past two years and due to his performance and discipline, he had the opportunity to represent his service at the Super Bowl.
“When I was told I was selected to go to the Super Bowl, I knew my hard work had paid off,” Chambe said. “It’s a small world because I’ll be on the court with one of my best friends from my hometown of Michigan.”
If the social media posts on the St. Clair Shores Michigan Residents Band’s Facebook page are any indication, you can be sure Chambe and Smith will have plenty of people from their hometown watching their performance.
“I’m always proud to be the manager of Lake Shore, but I know that this Sunday, as I watch the Super Bowl pregame national anthem sing and see not one, but two of the graduates of Lake Shore 2019 holding the flag that represents the branch of the military they serve, my heart may grow a size or two,” Lake Shore High School principal Janelle Bross said in a post. on Facebook. “Lake Shore has always been a community that primarily supports the military and I am beyond thrilled that two Shorians have been selected this year to represent our military and our nation on one of the greatest stages in the world.”
Since 1931, the Navy Ceremonial Guard has grown from an assembly of men awaiting transfer from the Naval Gun Factory to a highly refined shore command of over 200 sailors. The Ceremonial Guard remains focused on providing funeral honors to former and present Navy service members and ceremonial support throughout the Washington DC area.
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard is an elite unit comprising approximately 300 ceremonial guards serving a five-state area of responsibility and performing more than 3,000 missions annually. Assignments include honoring the President of the United States, foreign heads of state, and senior Department of Defense and Air Force leaders; perform ceremonial guard duties for Presidential events and joint services ceremonies; the wreath laying ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown and at the Air Force Memorial; and perform military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery.