Two Generations of Old Guard Soldiers Reflect on 9/11

PENTAGON ATTACK

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 11)–Seen is an aerial view of Pentagon after a hijacked airline crashed into it Sept. 11. Terrorist hijacked four commercial jets and then crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside. U.S. COAST GUARD PHOTO

In the 15 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, two distinct generations of 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment Soldiers have developed.

The first being Old Guard Soldiers that have just grown old enough to enter the Army, and the second being Old Guard Soldiers from the Fife and Drum Corps (FDC) that were in The Old Guard at the time of the attacks.

The Old Guard is the military’s first responders to emergencies in the National Capital Region. FDC was directly involved in the response to the attack at the Pentagon.

In contrast, Pfc. Jesse L. Burkey, was five years old when the planes struck.

“I remember, I believe I was in kindergarten, I was sitting in class,” said Burkey. “The teacher started like, freaking out. My mom ended up coming to pick me up, but I had no idea what was going on.”

Sgt. Colin Z. Mantha, eight years old on 9/11, was living in Missoula, Montana at the nineeleventime. He was trying to watch something his parents found offensive.

“I was trying to watch “South Park”, which my parents were not okay with,” said Mantha. “It was right in the middle of the “South Park” movie, mom comes running in from outside and she’s just not okay. Very upset, very frustrated, very flustered at me, very angry that I was watching “South Park” and she ended up changing the channel.”

Graphic images of the scene in New York eclipsed anything that could be imagined on “South Park”.

“All I saw was the World Trade Center,” said Mantha. “I didn’t know what was going on, I kept asking my mom what it meant.”

“I remember looking at the TV and the towers were falling,” said Burkey. “What movie is nineeleven-2this?”

Sgt. Maj. William E. White Jr. was a sergeant first class in the FDC when he first saw the attacks on television.

“When September 11th happened we were prepping for “Spirit of America” at the time,” said White. “ FDC had a mission that day to go out and do some promotional performances.”

“When the World Trade Centers were struck, it was between that post PT (physical training) 0900 timeframe,” said White. “So everyone had been watching it on television. Because we had that mission going out, those of us on the mission went down to do our final rehearsal.”

Sergeant 1st Class James E. Monroe that morning was practicing at the time with his trumpet. He was called into the dayroom when someone let him know a plane had flown into a building.

“I was sitting there watching all of the coverage and that’s when they broke in and said the second tower had been hit,” said Monroe. “That is about the time that all of us stopped thinking accident and wondered what was going on.”

Events on television soon became much less removed.

We were in the middle of that final rehearsal when someone came into the room and interrupted the rehearsal to say the Pentagon had been struck,” said White. “Within 15 minutes there were a dozen of us who had changed uniform from colonials to the BDU’s (battle dress uniforms).”

29462241402_ee2e2ecedc_oIn the immediate aftermath, FDC became the “utility player” for the Old Guard, filling in where needed said, White.

Master Sgt. Sandra J. Quaschnick recalls how Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall was locked down initially, but soon after she was sent into a parking area.

“We were listening for planes,” said Quaschnick. “If we heard anything to report it. At that point, there was still one plane unaccounted for.”

For Pfc. Matthew D. Mckinnon, 5 years old at the time, life went on as normal.

“I remember hearing about it when I came home, but that was it,” said Mckinnon.

For members of FDC, the next day was anything but normal. White had been assigned an overnight shift at a Joint Operations Center, where he acted as an Old Guard representative and relayed requests for equipment and manpower for the recovery operations.

“One instance specifically that I’ll never forget is when The Old Guard was returning a solution to a problem that had been asked,” said White “The Old Guard had been asked to provide a platoon of Soldiers to do remains recovery in the Pentagon.”

FDC was assigned the task of going to the crash site.

White described the moment he realized FDC was going to participate in the recovery effort as “surreal”.

The morning of the 12th, FDC was loaded onto busses and sent to the Pentagon.

Once there, several colleagues were dressed in biohazard suits and sent into the rubble, Monroe said.

“It was a situation where everyone of us was willing to do everything that was needed,” said Monroe.  He said by the time he was finished putting on a biohazard suit to go into the building, structural engineers deemed the building unsafe and called off the effort at that point.

FDC instead helped secure the area and credential workers for the recovery effort.

Talking about the experience brought Quaschnick right back to those moments in 2001.

Flag unfurled on side of pentagon

A ceremonial American flag is unfurled over the side of the Pentagon at sunrise, Sept. 11, 2014. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton/Released)

“I feel like I’m almost reliving it,” said Quaschnick. “You get that adrenaline going. It changes you in such a way you realize how important your job is.”

“Smelling the smoke, I’ll never forget that,” said Monroe.

For the generations that were children during 9/11, the attacks became a motivator to serve their country.

“I was joining because of terrorists,” said McKinnon. “That’s why I joined the infantry.”

“I’d say when I first started learning about what happened that was my initial thought maybe I want to serve my country,” said Burkey.

Monroe however found the experience initially gave him pause about staying in the military.

During the “Spirit of America” show FDC was preparing for, Monroe was scheduled to reenlist as part of the performance.

In the wake of the attack, “Spirit of America” was canceled and Monroe considered not reenlisting at all.

Monroe eventually did decide to remain in FDC and said he is proud to be a member of the unit after 17 years.

Burkey, Mantha, and Mckinnon, all said the biggest change in America after 9/11 has been the increased airline security.

Master Sgt. Josh E. Dukes of FDC thinks Americans are more vigilant.

Dukes said citizens are much more apt to question and be suspicious.

“Its put defense of terrorism from just to the authorities to every citizen of the United States,” said Dukes.

There is a one point both generations of Old Guard Soldiers unanimously responded to: they are extremely proud of the job they did and continue to do.

“Its an honor to be apart of something that does cemetery ceremonies,” said Burkey. “I feel honored to be apart of that.”

“We did a wreath laying at the Pentagon Memorial yesterday,” said Mantha. “Its not just military members who gave their lives. People that didn’t have to do it, but did.”

White called what FDC did at the Pentagon the corps’ “Finest Hour.”

From providing security, performing random searches or performing remains recovery, FDC met the tragedy with a dogged determination to accomplish the mission, said Quaschnick.

“Every one of the Soldier musicians of the Fife and Drum Corps took the task they were assigned, learned what they needed to do to succeed at that task and just did it,” said White. “The teamwork, the camaraderie, that the corps displayed after that its something I’ll never forget or probably ever experience anything quite like it.”

“Hopefully there’s never going to be another moment like 9/11,” said White. “I hope the corps is never in a position, the country is never in a position, to have another finest hour like we did after 9/11.”

 

The Old Guard is Honored by American Legion

083016_old-guard_p1Col. Jason T. Garkey, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) commander, accepted the Distinguished Service Medal from American Legion at the organization’s 98th National Convention in Cincinnati.

The American Legion is the the nation’s largest wartime veteran’s service organization. American Legion Commander Dale Barnett, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, said The Old Guard was deserving of the honor.

The award was first presented in 1921 to recognize the importance of Allied forces in the victorious battles of World War I. It traditionally goes to those who have made great contributions to veterans.

The Old Guard is the first unit to receive the Distinguished Service Medal.

“I am incredibly excited to receive this honor on behalf of The Old Guard and the U.S. Army,” said Garkey. “The American Legion is committed to mentoring our youth, while supporting wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and devotinges itself to our fellow service members and veterans.”

“The Old Guard and The American Legion share the common goal of supporting veterans,” said Garkey. “Both The Old Guard and the American Legion stand for issues that are most important to the nation’s veteran’s and communities.”

Past winners include Presidents John F. Kennedy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

“To receive the same award as 11 Presidents is incredibly humbling,” said Garkey. “This award has a great historical significance.”

“I am indescribably delighted to accept this award on behalf of The Old Guard, said Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson. “We will continue to elevate our Service members.”

“The very history of The Old Guard and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is tied to this prestigious honor,” said Garkey. “Two influential leaders, Gen. Charles P. Summerall and Gen. John J. Pershing are also awardees.”

Summerall was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal at the 1951 national convention, a parade field in Fort Myer is named in his honor. Pershing, the second ever winner of the award, Founded founded the U.S. Army Band, now located at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

The award has also been awarded to the unknown service members from World War I, World War II and the Korean War laid to rest at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This fact makes the award a deeper historical significance to Beeson.to the service members at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This fact makes the award a deeper historical significance to Beeson.

“To share this distinction with the unknown servicemen of World War I, World War II and the Korean War, is a profound and humbling accomplishment,” said Beeson. “The Unknowns gave their country absolutely everything, even their very identities.”

For Garkey, being the first unit awarded this accouterment underscores the importance of The Old Guard’s mission.

“Whereas other units in the army have to interact with the local population of other nations, soldiers in The Old Guard meet the American people and tell their story,” said Garkey. “The military and the American people come together in The Old Guard like no other unit in the Army.”

Beeson echoes this sentiment.

“Honoring the service members and the fallen is an ongoing mission that will always be our highest priority,” said Beeson. “A memorial service may be the lone interaction a family has with The Old Guard and the U.S. Army. We will never squander that opportunity to leave a positive lasting impression.”

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.”