Uniting For a Run After Saving Life and Limb

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(Left to right) Tim Goodman, who was struck by a Metro bus last year while jogging last August, Sgt. 1st Class Brian Williams and Sgt. 1st Class John Russell, 289th Military Police Company military policemen, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), run together through the National Mall, Aug. 19. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody Torkelson)

Almost a year after the accident that severely fractured one of his legs and fractured his jaw, Tim Goodman met with the Soldiers assigned to the 289th Military Police Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), who rushed in to his aid and to go on a run with them through the National Mall, Aug. 19.

“I am so excited to be here spending time with these true heroes as we run into the city together,” said Tim, a Washington, D.C., running enthusiast. “If it wasn’t for them helping me as fast as they did last year, I probably wouldn’t be here now.”

Late August 2013, Tim was out jogging when he was struck by a Metro bus at the intersection of Seventh Street and Madison Drive in Washington, D.C. Fortunately for Tim, Capt. Quenten Vereen, Sgt. 1st Class Brian Williams, Sgt. 1st Class John Russell and Spc. Christopher Flane, 289th Military Policemen, were also jogging in the same area, heard the accident, and provided lifesaving medical treatment.

“I must have a guardian angel,” said Tim. “They were just in the right place at the right time.”

These Old Guard Soldiers reacted instinctively to stabilize the bleeding from his head and leg.

Russell said he was just glad to help. “We were across the street when it happened,” said Russell. “We didn’t know if there was a neck injury or spinal injury. There was a lot of blood on the ground and we had to check him out and do what we could.”

Tim was then rushed to the MedStar Washington Hospital Center for further care for his injuries.

After two days in the hospital, Tim was released and began the long road to recovery.

“Thankfully after a year, nothing hurts,” said Tim. “Running feels mechanically different than it used to be with this titanium rod in my leg.”

Tim said he knows it will take more time to feel fine, but if it doesn’t, he is fine with it because he’s still alive.

He added he doesn’t recall a lot from the because of how traumatic the injury was, but he actually considers that to be a huge blessing.

“I was conscious during the accident, but I guess I wasn’t all there,” said Tim. “Who wants to remember something like that anyways?”

He said he said the only thing he wanted to remember was the Soldiers who saved him. Russell and Williams said they made sure to keep in contact with Tim during his recovery via email.

“It was important to us to see how he was doing,” said Williams. “We wanted Tim to know that we were there if he needed anything.”

Williams said they would continue to check-in on Tim from time to time just to see his progress.

As a veteran, Tim understood the strong bond between the military and he was grateful for the friendship of these Soldiers.

Tim took a break from running for awhile to allow his body an opportunity to properly heal.

“I had to promise my doctors that I wouldn’t run because they know how I am,” said Tim. “When I got the OK to run again, I didn’t hold back.”

Tim said when he feels exhausted running up hills and down trails and his legs tremble with fatigue, there is one thought that helped him continue.

He could still be in crutches or he could be dead.

Tim ran a half marathon in May, a full marathon in June and plans on running the Marine Corps Marathon this October.

“I just took the healing one day at a time,” said Tim. “The fact that I am out running again with the guys that helped save me is a miracle on its own.”

Old Guard Soldier honors fallen Soldiers at Flags In

by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks

“I have friends who died during my deployments to Iraq buried here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Joseph, infantryman, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) as he pointed to the other side of the cemetery. “And placing that American flag in front of their graves, and every grave here, shows that we have not forgotten their sacrifice.”

Joseph and more than 1,000 other Soldiers from The Old Guard participated in the annual Memorial Day tradition of “Flags-in” in Arlington National Cemetery [ANC], Va., May 22, 2014.

Since 1948, when The Old Guard was named the memorial and ceremonial unit for the U.S. Army, the unit has had the distinct honor of placing more than 400,000 flags at every tomb, gravesite and cremation niche in ANC every year.

Joseph receives a bundle of flags prior to marching into Arlington National Cemetery for Flags In.

Joseph receives a bundle of flags prior to marching into Arlington National Cemetery for Flags In.

Joseph didn’t know much about Flags-in prior to being assigned to The Old Guard, but after visiting the friends he lost during his four deployments in ANC; he developed a deep appreciation for this event.

“Enough can’t be said about what this unit does to honor our nation’s heroes,” said Joseph. “There is not one servicemember buried here that isn’t visited and honored, and to me that’s very special.”

Joseph added that being able to serve his country at The Old Guard has been one of the highlights of his career.

“I am proud to be associated with this unit that has such a unique mission,” said Joseph. “On one day we are performing at Twilight Tattoo, and then the next day we get to honor these service members. I will remember my time at here and what this unit means to the country for the rest of my life.”

For Soldiers who are part of The Old Guard but don’t have a memorial affairs mission, Joseph said Flags in is their chance to pay homage to the generations who fought for the freedoms of today in America on this large scale.

“As a member of the U.S. Army Drill Team, we travel all over the world telling the Army story through our performances, but there’s no greater joy than to just take time to honor those who paid the ultimate price,” said Joseph, the U.S. Army Drill Team platoon sergeant.

While it was his third year participating in Flags-In, Joseph said the event continues to be a monumental moment in his life.

“No matter how many times I have done Flags in, it never gets old,” said Joseph. “The feeling of pride and hope is something I know will never fade.”

Lines of Soldiers began walking through the final resting place of some of our nation’s greatest heroes. Slowly, but surely, the rows of tombs, gravesites and cremation niches had waving flags in front. Joseph and his Soldiers paused at every grave to read the name printed on the tomb.

Joseph plants a flag at a grave in Arlington National Cemtery's section 60, where most OIF and OEF veterans are interred.

Joseph plants a flag at a grave in Arlington National Cemtery’s section 60, where most OIF and OEF veterans are interred.

“It’s a unique opportunity to stop for just a moment at each gravesite and reflect on the freedoms they died for,” said Joseph. “Laying a flag is very personal and solemn occasion for each Soldier out there.”

Joseph said one of the most humbling times over the past three years has been his opportunity to place a flag at the headstone of Sgt. Audie Murphy, the most decorated Soldier in U.S. Army history.

“What can I say other than he set the standard of how we need to be as Soldiers and leaders,” said Joseph. “As a member of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, I made it my mission to place a flag at Audie Murphy’s tomb each year.”

Even with the numerous amounts of Soldiers walking through the cemetery with ruck sacks filled with flags, the entire 624 acres took about six hours to cover.

Realizing that their mission was coming to a close, Joseph and his Soldiers went back through to ensure ever flag was centered and straight on the gravesite.

“It’s quite a sight, to see all the flags beautifully positioned in a row blowing in the wind,” said Joseph. “I hope people come out to see the all the flags this weekend, but when they do, I want them to walk away knowing that flags are a representation of what these fallen service members gave for our country, freedom.”

Prevention and mitigation keys to Old Guard Safety Day

By Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks

Downed power lines, drinking and driving, and motorcycle safety were just some of the topics discussed during The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)’s annual Safety Stand Down Day, May 16, at Conmy Hall and the Community Center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.

More than 1,500 Soldiers gathered to hear important information about a range of safety issues and concerns for the summer months and year-round, which coincides with the Army’s 101 Days of Summer Safety Campaign.

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Utility workers from Dominion Power and Electric demonstrate the dangers of downed power lines for Old Guard Soldiers at the regiment’s annual Safety Day. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody W. Torkelson)

“Statistically speaking, there are more incidents that occur in the summertime than any other season, so the intent of Safety Day is to set aside a specific time to just focus on how we can mitigate this problem,” said Kerry Kolhof, Occupational Health and Safety Manager for The Old Guard. “It’s the times when you let your guard down for a split second that people get hurt.”

Kolhof said the leaders at The Old Guard want Soldiers to really consider safety measures especially when they are off-duty.

“This seems to be the Army’s biggest challenge because we can’t always stop Soldiers from doing high-risk activities, but we can educate them on the consequences of their actions,” said Kolhof. “Leaders who train their Soldiers in identifying and preventing hazards will less likely find those Soldiers in a bad situation.”

The crowd of Soldiers was divided onto two groups to be able to visit each safety station; where there were displays of proper safety procedures on a whole spectrum of possible hazards ranging from fires to vehicle accidents.

Staff Sgt. Monica Banks, a Soldier who began riding a motorcycle just a month and a half ago, closely inspected all of the proper protective equipment for riding a bike.

“I thought the brief was very informative, and it provided opportunities for new riders like me to ask questions about the dangers out there,” said Banks, food service noncommissioned officer, 529th Regimental Support Company, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard). “I am always concerned about getting into an accident when riding into work, especially in this area where there is so much traffic on the roads.”

Not only did Banks enjoy the motorcycle training, but she boasted that the entire day was beneficial for everyone in attendance.

“The block of instruction was invaluable. It is important to review these safety issues because they are overlooked sometimes,” said Banks. “No matter how long you have served, no one outranks the cost of carelessness.”

Staff Sgt. Monica Banks inspects motorcycle protective equipment during the Old Guard's Safety Day. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody W. Torkelson)

Staff Sgt. Monica Banks inspects motorcycle protective equipment during the Old Guard’s Safety Day. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody W. Torkelson)

Kolhof said safety remains a priority for the Army, Military District of Washington, and The Old Guard, and if one life was saved, the training was a success.

“Soldiers shouldn’t walk away with the attitude that an accident can’t and won’t happen to me,” said Kolhof. “We are not trying to prevent people from having fun, but the purpose is to warn them on how to be safe when they’re away from the unit with their families and friends.”

TOG Blog – WO1 Brent Vestering – WOCS Honor Grad

WO1 Brent Vestering

WO1 Brent Vestering

I recently served for 15 months as the Regimental Legal NCOIC for The Old Guard.  During my tenure, I provided guidance and training to commanders, NCOs, and Soldiers concerning Military Justice and adverse administrative matters.  My team and I provided quality legal products and guidance that enabled leaders to resolve legal issues expeditiously while remaining focused on their respective missions.

I graduated from U.S. Army Warrant Officer Candidate School on 20 February 2014.  In recognition for my academic performance, I was recognized as an Honor Graduate.  This school is a rigorous five week course designed to train, assess, evaluate, and develop future Warrant Officers.  The course instructors trained, mentored, and advised myself and 60 other candidates as we served in various student leadership positions throughout the course.  My class represented 10 of the Army’s functional branches and all three components; Active Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve.

The course consisted of two Army Physical Fitness Test, a week long Field Leadership Exercise, Land Navigation, a Leadership Reaction Course, and a 6.2 mile Ruck March.  In addition, we received classroom instruction focusing on officership, Army values, ethics, military history, and other topics all of which were covered in five academic exams and a military brief.

The course established a foundation for my own development as a self-aware and adaptive leader.  It taught me to be resilient in times of difficulty and how to persevere in stressful situations.  Above all, this course reaffirmed what I knew 10 years ago when I entered the military; that I am but a humble servant to the people of the United States and to the Soldiers with whom I serve; and that I will serve in such a manner as to not bring discredit upon my country, my unit, or my family.

Old Guard Trains at NTC

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Soldiers of Delta Company,1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), raise an antenna at the National Training Center [NTC] on Fort Irwin, Calif. The antenna is used for multiple communications across the battlefield. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Klinton Smith)

 Story by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks:

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (Feb. 7, 2014) — Soldiers assigned to Delta Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) returned from a month long deployment at the National Training Center [NTC] on Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 5-6, as part of a joint mission with 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The unit’s aren’t deploying anytime in the near future; however, they are using this exercise to perfect operational procedures and communication between aviation and Soldiers on the ground.

“We’ve learned the absolute importance of establishing standard operating procedures, conducting rehearsals and conducting pre-combat checks and inspections,” said Capt. Travis N. Reinold, commander, D Co. “We trained on what we’ve done over the last 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan by conducting ‘force on force’ engagements against a conventional enemy.”

The unit spent the first few days at NTC getting equipped with the multiple integrated laser engagement system [MILES].

MILES is a training system that provides a realistic battlefield environment for Soldiers and vehicles involved in the training exercise.

D Co. then conducted daily operations with the Stryker Brigade, while also overcoming a few new challenges along the way.

“We learned a lot from our infantry counterparts,” said Reinold. “This NTC rotation was unique for the Army because it marked the first time ever a Stryker Brigade executed a ‘Decisive Action’ rotation.”

These rotations were developed by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to create a common training scenario for use throughout the Army. They are expected to expose troops to today’s threats, coupled with a realistic, challenging environment that mimics 21st century adversaries.

“These challenges seemed daunting, but the competence, professionalism and motivation of all the Soldiers and non-commissioned officers made it possible to succeed,” said Reinold. “I couldn’t be more proud or happy about how far this company has progressed since November.”

Staff Sgt. James Simmons agreed.

“The truth is that everyone has discovered something that they didn’t know before,” said Simmons, a D Co. squad leader. “I got to see my Soldiers do some really great things on a terrain that was an exact replica of Afghanistan, except the mountains are a whole lot higher in Afghanistan.”

“A big take away from this was that we reminded our Soldiers that our main job is to be a proficient infantry unit and work as a team,” he continued.

With the two units having worked together during the rotation, Reinold said he feels they are both well equipped for any mission.

“We learned how to be an effective team and to achieve the maximum desired effects for our training,” said Reinold. “These Soldiers are truly capable of accomplishing anything.”

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A Delta Company Soldier, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), stands guard during a training exercise at the National Training Center [NTC] on Fort Irwin, Calif. The training helped enhance the tactical skills of the Soldiers. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Klinton Smith)

Sgt. Maj.’s 28-year career ends with one last fanfare

Sgt. Maj. Gregory Rock

Sgt. Maj. Gregory Rock

Sgt. Maj. Gregory Rock has used a combination of music and leadership to inspire people around the world. Now after 28 years of dedicated service to his country, seven presidential inaugurations and thousands of ceremonies and performances, Rock has finally hung up his colonial uniform patterned after Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army for good.

Soldiers from 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), held a retirement ceremony to honor Rock, a former U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps [FDC] sergeant major, at Conmy Hall on Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 13.

“I have spent a good portion of my adult life here in The Old Guard, and it has been an honor to serve as sergeant major of the Corps these last 11 years,” said Rock. “Retirement sneaks up on you when you are doing something you enjoy.”

When Rock first arrived at The Old Guard as a trombone player in 1988, however, he admitted to being very unsure about his military career.

“I came from the U.S. Army Field Band on Fort Meade, Md., so I felt like a duck out of water,” said Rock. “I had no idea where the Corps would take me.”

Rock would become only the third sergeant major in FDC’s 53-year history. He was the senior enlisted advisor to one of the U.S. Army’s premier musical organizations.

“I am the guy behind the scenes that makes sure everything and everyone is in the right place at the right time,” said Rock. “Everything that you see during a ceremony has a specific purpose. There is a history and a tradition behind what we do.”

Sgt. Maj. Gregory Rock (right) conducts a final inspection of troops during his retirement ceremony Jan. 13.

Sgt. Maj. Gregory Rock (right) conducts a final inspection of troops during his retirement ceremony Jan. 13.

Rock also had the task of maintaining continuity within FDC, and now that responsibility will be passed on to another noncommissioned officer.

Sgt. Maj. William White, the current Corps sergeant major, said he is honored to take over position from such a distinguished person.

“There was perhaps never a transition where someone was handed an organization as talented, gifted, put together and well-maintained as the one I inherited from him,” said White. “I learned a lot from Sgt. Maj. Rock.”

White said some people tend to get rattled when things become challenging and difficult, but Rock was the type of person to excel in just those situations.

“He brought a sense of calm to the job no matter how busy things got,” said White. “He called it ‘being in the eye of the hurricane.’”

Rock’s greatest memories were from the most mentally and physically demanding missions.

“Performing for Nelson Mandela and the Pope was crazy,” said Rock. “It was such a huge part of history, and I wouldn’t trade away those times for anything.”

Rock, his family and friends watch as The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps passes by the reviewing stand at his retirement ceremony.

Rock, his family and friends watch as The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps passes by the reviewing stand at his retirement ceremony.

Rock said the key to any success mission was surrounding himself with the right people.

“I did not make it this far without the help from people I have served with and those I love,” said Rock. “Every person that I have encountered in the military, good or bad, has taught me something.”

Rock said he doesn’t regret the instant when he decided to do something out of the box and join FDC.

“If I could give any advice to the next generation of Soldiers it would to push yourself outside your comfort zone, and trust the people around you,” said Rock. “It is the only way you’re going to grow as a leader.”

Rock said he has truly enjoyed being a part of FDC for so long, but he is looking forward to the next chapter in his life.

“I am glad to have my beautiful wife to share this journey with,” said Rock. “I am ending my time here with this great unit on the right note.”

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks, Old Guard Public Affairs

Old Guard Trains For NTC Rotation

Soldiers Train in PA

Old Guard Soldiers create a path through tall grass during a squad live-fire exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4.

Gunfire rang out across the mountainside as Soldiers moved through the woods toward the target area and engaged the simulated enemy.  When the squad cleared the objective and had begun assessing the situation, the platoon leader came over the radio to tell his squad the mission was complete and to regroup on his position.

Although this was only a rehearsal for the Soldiers assigned to Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), this field training exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 2-13., will serve them well in the future.

Capt. Johnathan Green, executive officer, D Co., 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard) said the unit is excited about the exercise because it’s their culminating event prior to a deployment to the National Training Center [NTC] in Fort Irwin, Calif.

D Co. is slated to augment 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa., during their pre-deployment rotation at the training center early next year.

“We are doing a lot of fun things out here that some of our newer Soldiers haven’t necessarily done before to get them and us ready for NTC,” said Green.  “We’ll be going over some of the basics first, and then get progressively harder at each level.”

So far this year, D Co. has also trained at other sites like Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. and Fort A.P. Hill, Va., all in anticipation for the deployment to NTC.

D Co. is slated to augment 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa., during their pre-deployment rotation at the training center early next year.

Junior leaders, like Spc. Nicholas Corby, infantryman, D Co., 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard), began the first few days by calling for artillery support, requesting medical evacuation, and conducting squad-level live-fire drills.

Corby said the two-week long training at Indiantown Gap was a great learning experience on how to lead and control his team to accomplish their mission even in hectic situations.

“We are coached to be proficient in communicating to our guys to ensure they know exactly where they need to be and what they need to do,” said Corby.  “As a leader, making sure we are safe and together is the most important thing out here, especially because we are shooting live rounds.”

Soldiers assigned to D Co., 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and his Soldiers fire a M240B machine gun during a squad live-fire exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Soldiers assigned to D Co., 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and his Soldiers fire a M240B machine gun during a squad live-fire exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

The training D Co. did at Indiantown Gap is difficult to reproduce in the classroom.

“Unless we come out to places like this, we can’t verify that our training is paying off,” said Corby.  “This is definitely getting us ready for NTC.”

After the first three days, the unit went on to conduct platoon- and company-level operations.

Corby said the biggest challenge was the mountainous terrain, frigid temperatures and foreign surroundings; however they easily identified and overcame those issues.

“We weren’t used to walking over the rocks, and it took a little adjusting to get used to the unstable ground,” said Corby.  “The fog and snow is pretty crazy in this area because of the mountains.”

He explained that learning to adapt to different climates was a huge part of the exercise.

Aside from the many challenges, there have been several perks to this training as well.

“We are using the same equipment that we’ll be using at NTC, from communications to maintenance and vehicles,” said Corby.  “Soldiers are working with these systems now to transition smoothly when we get there.”

Green agreed.

“We have prepared to the standard,” said Green. “We will be ready to help 3rd Brigade in whatever way they need us.”

Capt. Wallace Rollins, platoon leader, Delta Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), directs his Soldiers to an objective over the radio during a squad live-fire exercise in the evening hours at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Capt. Wallace Rollins, platoon leader, Delta Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), directs his Soldiers to an objective over the radio during a squad live-fire exercise in the evening hours at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Story by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)