Flag Shop Home to More Than Just Flags

flag shop          The Flag Shop on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH), Virginia has a presence at every mission the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) performs.

Every sovereign nation’s flag has a residence in the JBM-HH Flag shop, said Spc. John C. Mulloy, who works in the flag shop.

“The White House, State Department, and Pentagon will all call us for AR 40-10, flag, streamers and guidon regulations,” said Mulloy. “We’ll answer them to the best of our ability, we are the subject matter experts when it comes to that.”

In addition to flags of nations, the Flag Shop also has the colors of every state and territory, military branch and senior executives from the Sergeant Major of the Army all the way up to President of the United States, said Mulloy.

Country flags are organized in alphabetical order, whereas states are organized by the order in which they entered the union, said Mulloy.

The Flag Shop also maintains uniforms from almost every conflict and era. In flag shop-3flag shop-2addition to uniforms from every era and conflict is a $250k International Space Station (ISS) astronaut suit.

Like many of the uniforms, the ISS astronaut suit was donated, said Mulloy.

“We are the sole people who provide uniforms for Spirit of America, Twilight Tattoo and this years America’s Army,” said Mulloy.

The Flag shop will receive an order from the battalion’s operations and training officer (S3) outlying what equipment is necessary for the mission.

Depending on what the equipment is they’ll either send a few guys or a platoon to come draw it, said Mulloy.

Missions that do not require uniforms or flags are still impacted by the Flag Shop.

“We support all new Soldiers with their initial brass,” said Mulloy. “Typically a new Soldier will get anywhere from $45 to $150 worth of brass from us.”

Accouterments ranging from Special Forces tabs to Air Assault wings are made available to Soldiers.

 

To keep up with the large amount of incoming Soldiers being assigned to The Old Guard for the pending Presidential inauguration, $32,997 was ordered said Spc. Brendan Murphy, another Soldier that works in the Flag Shop.

flag shop-7            About a million and a half dollars in flags, a couple hundred thousand dollars in brass, streamers at $86 a piece and even stanchions that run $250 a piece, mean the Flag Shop houses about $2 million in equipment, said Mulloy.

Without the Flag Shop, The Old Guard would have a difficult time achieving its mission and representing the U.S. Army to the nation and the world.

“Our main day to day is ceremonial missions throughout the National Capital Region,” said Mulloy. “With flags, chairs, stand-staffs, a little bit of everything, that helps makes this a little bit easier for everyone up the line.”

TOG Soldiers take on Best Warrior Competition

 

ruckmarch-3Spc. Jeremy R. Byrd and Staff Sgt. Eric G. Cutchall represented the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) in the Military District of Washington’s (MDW) Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green, Virginia, held August 15, 2016 through August 19, 2016.

Byrd and Cutchall became The Old Guard Best Warriors in a competition held at Fort A.P. Hill in July. Winning that competition allowed them entry into the MDW level.

Day two of the MDW competition began before dawn.

“This morning we started by getting on a blackhawk,” said Byrd. “We rode around a little bit, got off and then did a nine-mile ruck march.”

Byrd, from Delta Company 1/3, was able to complete the march in two hours and 36 minutes.

Cutchall completed his ruck march in two hours 42 minutes.

The ruck march course at Fort A.P. Hill is challenging.

“Its pretty bad, a lot of hills on this one,” said Byrd.

ruckmarch-8

Though the competition is taking place during a heat wave of 90° temperatures, Byrd said the heat hasn’t played too much of a factor.

Cutchall, a firing party commander from Charlie Company 1/3, said the heat hasn’t bothered him. Cucthall attributed his heat resilience to growing up in Louisiana.

The competition generally tested level one tasks, so the challenge is summoning the willpower to push through physically tough events like the ruck march.

ruckmarch-7“You have to push yourself a little bit,” said Cutchall. “I know what my strengths are and I know what my weaknesses are.”

The Best Warrior Competition challenges competitors through a series of tests including an Army Physical Fitness test, ruckmarch-20answering a reporters questions in a simulated interview and qualifying with the M-16/M-4 rifle, M9 pistol and M240B and M249 machine guns.

ruckmarch-11Cutchall said he was most looking forward to the range.

“These are my strongest events,” said Cutchall. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to compete.”

A final test is a board comprised of Sergeant Majors.

Ultimately, The Old Guard’s Best Warriors performed their best and represented themselves and the regiment with distinction.ruckmarch-19

The 2016 Best Warriors for the Military District of Washington region are Sgt. Stephen M. Johnson, 53rd Signal Battalion and Spc Benjamin L. Moon of the Criminal Investigation Command.

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Guard Cobbler Keeps Unit On Its Feet

cobbler-16          The most essential piece of equipment when marching is shoes.

That is why the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) has the only cobbler employed by the U.S. government.

Paul Plaisance, a 12-year veteran who served in the 10th Mountain Division and 25th Infantry Division, is originally from Louisiana. Plaisance hand makes every pair of shoes The Old Guard walks in.

Entering his fifth year as The Old Guard’s cobbler, Plaisance is proud his handiwork has been treading in so many places.

Plaisance has been building shoes for Soldiers inside the Pentagon, standing guard at the White House and for the Tomb Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS).

cobbler-3           “All of my shoes are pretty much at every fallen Soldiers ceremony,” said Plaisance. “I’m the only one that makes the shoes.”

Shoes fall into a few different categories. The average Soldier will wear “Regimentals”, Tomb Sentinels will have their own type and chaplains will wear their own modified version.

The former cobbler had been at the position for 25 years before she retired before the last Presidential Inauguration. Plaisance had been working with heavy equipment at Quantico, Va., before taking on this new assignment.

“There was no one doing this at all, and there were 300 pairs of these that had to be built,” said Plaisance. “Over 60 Tomb shoes.”

From chaplains to the newest assigned private, Plaisance builds the shoes literally cobblerfrom the ground up.

“This is the only place they wear these type of shoes,” said Plaisance.

Other units will wear Corframs that are produced with a rubber sole, said Plaisance.

In contrast the average The Old Guard Soldier’s shoes are called “Regimentals.”

Converting your typical Corfram into a Regimental begins shortly before they first arrive in front of Plaisance. From the factory, an outside contractor will add pieces of oak and leather to the soles so tacks will stay in place.

The next step is steel, horseshoe shaped “toe-taps” are added to the front of every pair.

Rectangular steel plates are then drilled into to the instep of each heel. This process cobbler-9requires Plaisance to modify each steel plate with a hammer so they sit flush on the side of the heel.

“Every shoe is a little different,” said Plaisance.

A larger horseshoe shaped piece of steel is added by tacking on to the base of the heel. This requires some wrangling since tacks are small and the work is awkward. Adding the base heel plates requires Plaisance to put the shoe on a stand, lift, pull the shoe toward him and hammer the tacks into place.

This seemingly uncomplicated maneuver took a lot of practice to master.

cobbler-12         Plaisance said early on he would often strike his fingers.

TUS has a tradition with their shoes that spans over five decades, said Plaisance.

Tomb shoes are incredibly labor intensive and require much more concentration than a pair of Regimentals need. Whereas a pair of Regimentals takes a matter of minutes, pair of Tomb shoes take a week, said Plaisance.

Adding extra pieces of leather, steel and sanding down the soles is an arduous and cobbler-8time consuming 19-step process.

Tomb shoes must be looked after every step of the way or the shoes can be ruined. A knick from sanding on the 18th step forces that pair to be abandoned, said Plaisance.

To meet the high demand for regimentals and TUS, stocks of the raw materials have to be maintained.

“If are we low on that but have plenty of shoes, it doesn’t really matter,” said Plaisance. “Its like not having a complete uniform. You can have a blouse and pants but no hat or shoes, it takes everything to make everything work.”

The tacks, steel toe taps and metal plates that are added to the instep are all locally sourced materials from companies in Falls Church and Roanoke, Virginia.

With everything available, Plaisance said he can produce 25 pairs of Regimentals in a day.

A full class of new Soldiers at the Regimental Orientation Program can be 25 infantrycobbler-6 Soldiers, each needing two pairs of shoes, so in a single Wednesday 50 pairs can walk out the door, said Plaisance.

Despite the challenges to keep up with the demand for his handmade shoes, Plaisance receives a high amount of satisfaction from his job as the only cobbler in the U.S. Army.

“Every time you see a guy in uniform, my shoes are there,” said Plaisance. “It gives me a good feeling.”

JBM-HH Central Issue Facility Provides Everything an Old Guard Soldier Needs

cif-62            The distinctive look of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) begins at the unit’s Central Issuing Facility (CIF).

Each Soldier’s uniform is individually tailored so they look their best representing the U.S. Army to the nation and the world.

Every Wednesday, Soldiers E1-E6 attend CIF during their first week of the Regimental Orientation Program (ROP).

CIF also issues the organizational clothing and equipment that Soldiers will take into the field, said Elbert W. Jones, a retired Vietnam veteran who served in the Army for 21-years, and works as a supply technician at the CIF.

Many Soldiers are not only new to The Old Guard, but straight out of advanced training or one stop unit training (infantry).

The equipment is called “TA-50”. TA-50 is an Army acronym for Table of Allowances 50. It cifencompasses Army-issued individual equipment.

A large-scale distribution of over $6,000 worth of TA-50 and ceremonial uniforms requires a lot of organization and planning, both of which are easily handled by the staff at CIF.

“All the supply techs here are highly familiar with it, they do it every Wednesday,” said Jones. ROP instructors also help the process run smoothly.

“We get to inform them (Soldiers) at the beginning of their time here at The Old cif-48Guard of what they’ll be preparing for with the uniforms and the TA-50,” Garrick R. Sanders, a ROP instructor that accompanies new Soldiers to CIF.

“You have some top-notch personnel working here,” said Jones. “We have some supply techs that I admire. They know what they are doing in here.”

These newly minted service members get to ROP early in their physical training uniform and begin the daylong process.

Soldiers are generally very responsible with their equipment and rarely lose high-dollar value items, said Jones.

ROP classes can contain as many as 25 Soldiers at a time. The batch of new Soldiers today is 13 infantry (11b) Soldiers.

cif-7            After taking attendance, supply clerks have the Soldiers single file to a 30 foot long counter.

On the counter sits canteens, sleeping mats and poncho liners (known under the pseudonym “woobie”) for each Soldier.

Then 10 Soldiers at a time are brought to the counter and asked to inventory and pack their items.

cif-21            Everything is annotated on a clothing record that will serve as proof the Soldier received the equipment. Every item, from a plate carrier to a trench shovel, will be inspected, logged and signed for by the Soldier.

Once the equipment is distributed, Soldiers are then ushered to the ceremonial equipment side.

Supply technician Katherine M. Gross helps distribute the ceremonial equipment beginning with non-sized items like suspenders, garment bags and ceremonial belts.

Gross has been working at CIF for 8 years. She works as a supply technician and previously performed alterations.

Next, Soldiers try on the handmade shoes The Old Guard wears. If stocks in that Soldier’s cif-51size are depleted, they are given a “due-out” and will be notified when the shoes are available.

Ceremonial caps, dress shirts and the winter weather cap (tropper cap) are all sized and approved by the ROP instructor that accompanies the class to CIF.

The next phase begins with Soldiers trying on the wool suit jackets (blouses), overcoats and pants that constitute The Old Guard’s Uniform for nearly all of its missions.cif-54

Measurements are made so that every jacket meets Regimental standards. Technicians will measure from the tip of the thumb while the Soldier stands at attention.

Pleats must also be altered so all jackets have a cut look to them, said Gross.

cif-45          Pants are given a “West Point Cut” which is a slant, said Gross. A special tool is held up to the Soldier’s leg so the proper cif-56angel is achieved.

Infantry Soldiers are issued two blouses. The Soldiers try them on and then an alterations clerk will measure and mark the garment for tailoring.

For enlisted Infantry Soldiers alterations usually consist of adjusting the sleeves and adding an honor guard tab, said Gross.

Officer jackets require more steps like adding hooks or overseas bars on the arms.

“One coat could take 20 minutes or it could take three hours depending on what you have to do with it,” said Gross.

Jackets and pants are logged and Soldiers are given a receipt. The necessary alterations take about two weeks. Master Sgt. Ilya Basyuk, a Non-commissioned Officer assigned at CIF, notifies company first sergeants when the items are ready to be picked up.cif-12

The CIF on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., services not only The Old Guard but also high-ranking leaders in the Pentagon.

Jones said there is a huge difference between the quality of equipment he was issued in the 1960’s and what Soldiers are issued today.

The basic sleeping bag is Jones’ prime example.

“For example their sleep system, they have a five piece sleep system,” said Jones. “Most of these old Soldiers know we only got one sleeping bag, a big OD (olive drab) green one.”

“These young men and young ladies here, they are well taken care of,” said Jones. “I’m old school, this is your new model Army and I salute them.”

“I get a kick out of watching them come through here,” said Jones.

With the help and dedication of the Supply Technicians at the CIF, Soldiers in The Old Guard have everything they need to accomplish their missions.

Day With Old Guard Helps Children See New Perspective

kids-12           On July 27, 2016 a pair of families participating in a Survivor’s Outreach program arrived at the Army Community Service building on Joint base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.

Among them was nine-year-old Ashleigh Quick.

Ashleigh Quick explained why she was involved in the Survivor’s Outreach Program.

“My dad died,” said Quick. “Because of a sickness in the military.”

Quick’s father was a Soldier that deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan before losing his life due to complications from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) this past Christmas.

He is buried in section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery.

kids-34Helping children deal with the loss of a family member is not altogether removed from how to deal with any event that brings about grief, like the loss of a job, children going off to college or leaving the military for civilian life, said Kristi Pappas, organizer of the event and the Survivor Outreach Support Coordinator for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

It was 35 years ago last week Pappas lived through a traumatic accident of her own.

Pappas was working at a Hyatt Hotel in Kansas City. During an early evening tea dance, a “perfect storm” of factors came together to cause one of the worst structural collapses in U.S. History, the death toll only second to the World Trade Center Collapse on 9/11.

The aftermath of the collapse left 114 people killed and 216 people injured.

“Had it been five minutes earlier, I would have been under it,” said Pappas.

Living through the ordeal taught Pappas a lesson she hoped to impart to children like Quick and her sister, Hannah Quick.

“It changes your life,” said Pappas. “But you can get it under control, and you can move through it and come out on the other side.”

Pappas moved on from the trauma and a decade later commissioned in the Army as a Chaplain, a position she held for 23 years.

“I know you can come out as a ‘thriver’,” said Pappas. “That you don’t get stuck in surviving.”

Pappas said a key to dealing with trauma is to accept the new circumstance.

“You come to understand a new normal,” said Pappas. “What’s that new normal? Whatever you make it.”

The children that attended took a daylong tour along side the men and women in The Old Guard with stops at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Caisson Stables and a performance of Twilight Tattoo.

kids-28            “Remembering their mom or dad, but carrying them into the future,” said Pappas. “And a different understanding or relationship with The Old Guard, who they have seen bury their mom or dad.”

Helping the children gain an understanding of what The Old Guard does and how they serve will help these children coping with loss see a new perspective, said Pappas.

“Seeing the Soldiers of The Old Guard become a symbol of grief,” said Pappas. “Well, those Soldiers are just doing their job. Just like their mom or dad did their job.”

The tour helps to personalize and de-stigmatize The Old Guard in the minds of these children, said Pappas.

The day began with creating tote bags out of uniforms that represented the branch their loved one served in.

Pappas said creative projects like the tote bags help to rewire the brain and deal with traumatic stress.

“They will be carrying a piece of their mom and dad with them,” said Pappas. “It also allows the children to have something that they can carry with them to remind them of their lost parent or sibling.”

One of the adults who attended the Survivor’s Outreach Old Guard tour was Lupe G. MaGuire, a Gold Star wife whose husband had passed away 10 years ago while he was on active duty.

Lupe is a member and volunteer at the Fort Belvoir Survivor’s group and thought thekids-3 tour was an excellent learning opportunity for her grandsons John B. Garza and Caleb A. Garza.

John and Caleb Garza’s father is a former Marine and is currently a Police Officer.

“I want my grandkids to be aware of our nation, our country, and what our military does for us,” said Lupe. “For them to be aware of what our country has done and has suffered.”

MaGuire said she would urge Gold Star families to participate in events like this because it is an excellent experience.

Ashleigh Quick’s 10-year-old sister Hannah Quick was also in attendance for the day’s tour.

Hannah Quick was not excited about the day at Fort Myer when she found out about it.

But the day spent with The Old Guard changed her mind.

kids-17            “Everybody was just really nice,” said Hannah Quick.

“I felt happy to have my mind off of what happened,” said Hannah Quick. “I mean if this does happen to you, you need to stay by your family, hold them tight, because if this happens you will never know what will happen next.”

Hannah Quick said she was impressed with The Old Guard, events like this one were helpful in learning to deal with what Pappas described as “the new normal.”

“You were with people that were nice, and also with people that have gone through what you have gone through, maybe not in the same way, like not the same person. But they have definitely lost someone.”

“I definitely would recommend to everybody this type of thing, it helps a lot,” said Ashleigh Quick.

“It takes your mind off things, so you aren’t sad,” said Ashleigh Quick.

Just as someone is a Soldier for life, the Family of that Soldier is a member of the Army Family for life, said Pappas.

“That relationship is still there,” said Pappas. “Especially for someone who has lost a loved one.”

 

Chaplains Have Higher Calling

20160720-A-FT656-1-2          Soldiers in the U.S. Army have a higher calling to serve their country. Chaplains heed that same call, with an added responsibility to minister the word of God.

The “calling” can be defined by something experienced in one’s heart, like God has formed a person for a specific purpose, said Maj. John E Scott, Army Chaplain.

“Its always been a calling to serve God and country,” said Capt. Al F. Rivera, Army Chaplain. “It brings me great satisfaction to be able to do both.”

Wherever in the world the U.S. Army is conducting operations, a Chaplain is there, said Rivera.

The U.S. Army’s Chaplain Corps celebrated its 241st birthday on July 29, 2016.

Founded in 1775, the Chaplain Corps was championed by a major figure in American history.

“George Washington was a driving force,” said Scott. When Washington was asked to lead the Army, he insisted on having Chaplains travel with Soldiers.

“Chaplains went through the evolution, really,” said Scott. “From being volunteer civilian clergy not in the Army, to being clergy in the Army without rank.”

To provide Chaplains with a defined role and salary, the Chaplain Corps became how it exists today, said Scott.

20160720-A-FT656-1-3Chaplains are now commissioned officers that go through the same training as other Soldiers. Chaplains are ordained and endorsed by a civilian church for ministry.

Over the years, more then 25,000 Chaplains have served in the U.S. Army.

Chaplains have served in all of America’s wars and combat engagements.

Nearly 300 Army Chaplains have laid down their lives in battle.

Assignments for Chaplains include both military installations and deployed combat units.

In 2015, the active Army had 1,545 Chaplains that represented over 100 recognized faith groups, including Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Roman Catholics.

For Soldiers looking for spiritual support outside of what the unit’s Chaplain can provide, Chaplains will look into the local community or utilize other resources, said Scott.

“That’s really what the Chaplain Corps was designed to do,” said Scott. “To facilitate the free exercise of religion for Soldiers.”

Looking at the total Army to include reservists and National Guard, the number of Chaplains balloons to over 3,000.

Religious Affairs Specialists, an enlisted Soldier or Non-Commissioned Officer that helps facilitate operations and logistics for the Chaplain, is a pivotal member of a Chaplain’s team.

The Religious Affairs Specialists also provide security while the Chaplain is in a combat zone, as Chaplains are unable to wield a weapon.

Religious Support Specialists were previously known as Chaplain’s assistants.

Religious Support Specialists make the Chaplain’s mission possible, said Rivera.

“Chaplains and Religious Affairs Specialists perform their ministry in the most religiously diverse organization in the world,” said Rivera.

“Its so religiously and ethnically diverse,” said Scott. “Really, you are getting shaped and trained everyday.”

There are different facets to a Chaplain’s mission. Along with advising the commander on religion, ethics, and morals, Chaplains provide weekly religious services and counseling, said Scott.

“In counseling, the role is just so unique,” said Scott. “Soldiers you may have been with but may not know very will share their life with you.”

“Everything we do comes back to providing world-class religious support,” said Rivera. “Nurturing the living, honoring the dead, and caring for the wounded.”

Chaplains provide absolute confidentially, said Scott.

Whatever a Soldier speaks to a Chaplain about is held in the strictest of confidence, much like a Catholic Priest’s role to never repeat anything heard in confession.

“I’ve been there with people when they have lost friends, loved ones, had the privilege of dedicating babies… officiating weddings, ” said Scott. “When you recognize that’s a special moment, it encourages me as a Chaplain to treasure that and be very careful with the trust someone is putting in me.”

The value of the Chaplain Corps has grown as the Army has been in conflict, said Scott.

“Commanders are excited to have a good Chaplain in their battalion, brigade, division, during the hard times,” said Scott. “I think as the Army is stressed, the value of a Chaplain actually increases.”

The Chaplain Corps mission has remained largely unchanged since American independence.

20160720-A-FT656-1            “Overall, I would say its probably very similar to how it was in the beginning,” said Scott. “What has changed is the context in which we minister.”

With the retirement of Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen Donald L. Rutherford, the Chaplain Corps is in a state of transition.

Maj. Gen Paul K. Hurley has replaced Chaplain Rutherford.

“The Chief of Chaplains sets the vision and the focus for the Chaplain Corps,” said Scott. “For Chaplain Hurley, one of the big things he has been and will be emphasizing is being faithful to the call.”

“A personal goal of mine is be faithful to the calling,” said Scott. “Continue to be there for Soldiers.”

“For me, its just a privilege to be with America’s sons and daughters,” said Rivera. “There’s no greater privilege to serve god and country.”

Military Police Protect the Force, Public

rideConspicuous patrol cars prowl the streets of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. (JBM-HH) all day, everyday.

MPs spend their days making sure people are aware of their presence, and are ready to take any necessary action to protect the public and service members of JBM-HH.

Sgt. Timothy Ketchum has manned a Military Police cruiser as a member of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment’s (The Old Guard) 289th Military Police Company for two and a half years.

Riding in between gates on JBM-HH, Fort McNair and D.C. and any emergency calls, Ketchum’s job today as a rover is to assist where he is needed.

A call comes over the radio, “We have a medical emergency.” A 13-year old female is experiencing symptoms of heat stroke.

Ketchum takes a right into the Tri-Service parking lot and accelerates to the nearest gate separating Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) and JBM-HH.

Upon arriving to the ANC visitor center, shortly before fire rescue but just behind the ride-2paramedics, Ketchum takes a position near the scene. Ketchum needs to be far enough to avoid interrupting the paramedics doing their work. MPs have to respect the privacy of the patient and abide by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) guidelines.

While ANC does employ civilian security, MPs respond to assist and secure the area.

The most common calls, especially during the hot Virginia summer afternoons, are heat related injuries.

On extraordinarily hot days MPs can respond to half a dozen calls before noon, said Ketchum.

Most of the time the victims of heat stroke, exhaustion or cramps are children on school trips. MPs make a record of the report so worried parents calling for information can be advised of what hospital they were taken to.

The paramedics take the teen away, and Ketchum returns to his patrol.

During an 8-hour shift, officers perform tasks like providing over watch of gates and running checks on people trying to come onto the installation. In addition to calls from ANC, one of their primary duties is to be a visible presence.

Ketchum said most calls from JBM-HH are to the gates.

“Registration, tags, drivers licenses,” Ketchum said. “That’s actually where we get most of our drunk driving and drugs is from people who made a wrong turn.”

The 8-hour shift begins at 6 am. The day shift will do physical training (PT) after their shift is completed at 2 p.m. most days.

ride-5There are three shifts total, a swing shift that takes over at 2 p.m. and works until 10 p.m., and a night shift that works from 10 p.m.- 6 am. MPs will cycle through the day, swing and night shifts every three months.

The 289th served in World War II and Korea before being deactivated in 1955.

289th Police Company joined The Old Guard in 1994.

Becoming a police officer has been an aspiration for Ketchum since high school.

Ketchum’s mother insisted he volunteer at the Manassas Battle Fields to, “give him a taste of manual labor,” he said.

“I foiled her because I liked it,” said Ketchum. “The ranger I worked with was a law enforcement ranger, so after that I knew I was going into the Army, that was a forgone conclusion for me. I walked into the recruiter and said ‘I want to be an MP.’”

First enlisting in 1993, Ketchum served five years before leaving the Army and working as a civilian police officer until returning to military service in 2007.

Ketchum has worked as both a MP and a civilian police officer. He says there are similarities, but vast differences.

“They are exactly the same, and then completely different,” said Ketchum. “We do the same exact job, only on a smaller scale depending on where you’re at. Larger installations its like working in a city.”

For MPs at JBM-HH, being well versed in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. and Army Regulations is a necessity.

“In D.C. I can arrest you for driving on a suspended license,” said Ketchum. “But in Virginia, its a citation to appear in court. Your car will need to be towed or someone can pick it up.”

MPs must share a variety of jurisdictions that are close enough to run on adjacent streets.

The MP’s share space with the U.S. Park Police, Arlington County and the Pentagon.

The web of agency responsibility can sometimes make for strange circumstances.

Ketchum said there was once an incident where a drunk driver pulled over to the side of the road to sober up, off post. The driver put his chair back, but didn’t place his car in park. The driver ended up rolling through an intersection at Second Street and into a concrete planter on post.

ride-3The crime was committed off post, but rolled into the MPs jurisdiction.

“There are benefits to both,” said Ketchum. “Civilian law enforcement you are paid for your time, your eight hour shift anything over you are compensated for.”

“MP, you are paid what you are paid. The paperwork process is much more in depth in the Army then the civilian world,” Ketchum said. “But then like military benefits are so much better, GI bill, tuition assistance, it equals out.”

Ketchum was deployed to Afghanistan in May of 2011.

While deployed, Ketchum mostly provided armed escort.

Growing up in the National Capital Region, Ketchum hopes to eventually earn a position with the Ft. Myer Provost Marshal’s Office as a civilian.

ride-4Near the end of his shift, Ketchum responds to another emergency at the ANC visitor’s center.

A suspicious package left in a restroom has been reported. MPs responded immediately by evacuating and clearing the building.

Bomb detection K9s didn’t find any suspicious packages.

Ketchum said the owner of the bag may have retrieved it before it had been reported.

Within minutes, MPs were able to safely reopen the center for people. The rest of the shift ends without incident.