Story by Sgt. Nicholas Holmes
FORT JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – The Regimental Orientation Program, more commonly known as ROP amongst The Old Guard members, is a three week hands-on-developmental training for new Old Guard soldiers at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.
When I arrived at TOG I immediately learned about ROP as I began to converse with Soldiers in my new command. I was generally told what ROP is and some of the standards required to pass the course. Requirements, such as long stands at attention and hours of marching with rifles.
I was honor to be a part of the oldest active infantry regiment in the Army however, I was also slightly intimidated by what I was learning about this three week training.
On the first day Sgt. Gary White, a week one ROP instructor, explained the standards to pass for the first week, which focused on the preparation of the Army Service Uniform.
We were required to pass an ASU inspection with less than seven deficiency and complete a 45-minute stand at the positions attention and parade rest.
The inspection was graded on a 100-point scale that evaluated the appearance of our uniform. We were evaluated individually for deficiencies which included, placements of decorations, cleanliness of uniform and our physical appearance, among others.
During the first day of training, we covered the ceremonial cap, ribbon rack building and started placing decorations and awards on our uniforms.
The training began with how to alter the C-Cap so that it is worn to the specifications of The Old Guard. This required us to apply measured pieces of wire to the interior of the caps so that they would sit properly.
Following this lesson, instructors led the class through a step-by-step process of building award ribbon racks.
“A lot of Soldiers have a challenge with the meticulous aspect of building the metals rack,” said White. “It is a lot like arts and crafts and a lot of Soldiers just aren’t used to having to do this.”
Using tin, ribbon, a hot glue gun and a razor to mark our measurements, we began this tedious process, paying careful attention to detail. After each step instructors would evaluate each of our racks before moving to the next step.
I appreciated this because it ensured we were executing each step correctly. I feel that it increased understanding and kept the instruction at a steady pace.
After completing the ribbons rack, instructors applied this same teaching method to pin our uniforms.
The following day the instruction was on how to steam and press our uniforms.
While in the pressing room instructors worked with each of us individually to teach the functions of the machines and the process of pressing each of our ASU garments.
The instructors were great at explaining this process. Additionally, they shared their personal tips to avoid common mistakes and helpful ways to correct common errors.
The class prior to test day, Soldiers were given additional time to ask questions and use any of the equipment to ensure uniforms met the standards to pass.
The morning of the test was daunting. I was confident in my uniform, however I was nervous about standing for 45 minutes. I believed I did everything I could do to prepare.
I got a good night rest, ate a healthy breakfast and consumed plenty of water. All I could do now was focus on the task in front of me.
In the warm classroom, I looked straight ahead into the mirror in front of me, moving from each position as instructed. By the time my feet began to go numb and the sweat had soaked through my shirt, the instructor finally called for us to fallout and the test was complete.
I was happy to know I made it to the next portion of the training and was excited to learn more about what is takes to be an Old Guard Soldier.