SSG John Ford’s (Hopefully Not) Last Ride

fordlastride-14 On May 2, 2016, Staff Sgt John S. Ford took his final ride with the 1st Battalion, 3d U.S Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon.

“Its not really sinking in yet, that this is it, this is the last time I’m doing this,” said Ford. “This job, this position, this platoon has been the single most honorable thing I’ve ever been involved in in my life.”

Ford worked as the Caisson operations non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) and rode on 319 memorial affairs missions.

“This has been the greatest privilege in my entire career,” said Ford. “To be able to serve here with these Soldiers, in this capacity. It has been an adventure most days.”

Ford was inspired to come to the Caisson when he visited a fallen Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).

In February 2006, while on Ford’s second deployment in Iraq, his friend Spc. Marlon Bustamante was killed by an IED (improvised explosive device) just southwest of Baghdad and was buried in section 60 of ANC.

“Delta Company 1st and the 502nd, that was the first combat casualties that company had taken since Vietnam,” said Ford. “He was survived by his wife, twin sons and a daughter.”

“I came to visit Arlington Cemetery when we came back from that tour in 2006,” said 22790613465_9d2c4b066a_oFord. “You can hear the numbers at the time, it was 365,000 I think were buried here. You can hear that, and you can know in your head how many people that is and how many headstones that would be. But until you are standing at the bottom of section 60 looking up the hill, and all you can see as far as you can see is headstones.”

While in ANC Ford saw a Caisson team waiting on the side of the road, and he knew then this is where he wanted to be, he said.

He arrived at The Old Guard in August of 2011.

Ford relished his role in The Old Guard, learning as much about its history as he possibly could.

“Being not just a bridge between the families and the military service, but the history of both The Old Guard, the first American Regiment in 1784, but even going back to the horses, how long they have been in service ” said Ford. “Our modern horseback service is tied to those men that were mustered to fight in the Revolutionary War,”

Ford likes to learn a little bit of the history of a regiment when he’s assigned to it. Previously he was a member of a much younger unit, so there was less to read about. The Old Guard required him to do more research.

“To be apart of that long line of horseman, has been one of the big highlights here in Caisson,” said Ford.

“His historical knowledge of the units he serves with, he really digs into the books and understands the why,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Hayman.

Hayman previously worked as the Caisson Platoon sergeant and says Ford was an invaluable member of the team.

“He was an asset all the way,” said Hayman. “His greatest attribute as a leader is he’s always leading from the front. “

So while Spc Bustamante was initially his reason to come to ANC, the people he’s worked with at the Caisson Platoon are why he doesn’t want to leave, said Ford.

Ford says his greatest legacy is people will not notice when he is gone.

“Its gratifying to know that Soldiers that are going back into the cemetery tomorrow, the families won’t know the difference,” said Ford. “They won’t know I’m not there anymore. To me, that means a lot.”

Ford said it takes a constant attention to detail and a devotion to the families of the fallen service members to be successful.

Ford’s advice to the horseman that will be continuing to work at the stables is to keep putting the families first.

fordlastride-11          The dedication to the families is inspiring and humbling to watch on a daily basis, said Ford.

“It may be your first, might be your 50th, might be your 500th,” said Ford. “This was my 319th , but for that Airman, buried in section 55 this afternoon, that was his only funeral. The family only gets that one.”

For now, Ford will be embarking on a new chapter of his career as a Drill Sergeant.

Ford attended Drill Sergeant School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Despite this new direction, training civilians to become Soldiers at Fort Jackson, SC, Ford has no doubt this will not be his last assignment at The Old Guard.

“I’m definitely coming back,” Ford said. “If we’re not fighting anybody, if the infantry is not actively deployed somewhere overseas in defense of America’s interest, I’m coming right back to The Old Guard, wherever the Regimental Sergeant Major needs me, whether its Alpha Company, Wigs and Tights, Rifle Company Marching again, or if I’m lucky right back here.”

“I’m going to carry the smell of the stables everywhere I go,” said Ford.

 

SFC Melissa Dyer Finds Time to Excel

noname            Sgt. 1st Class Melissa J. Dyer, a Fife player in the U.S Army Fife and Drum Corps (FDC) recently won several awards from George Mason University for outstanding academic achievement.

“It was shocking,” said Dyer. “I kept getting these emails out of the blue, ‘Hey, congratulations you’ve been nominated for this, congratulations you’ve won this.’”

Dyer was awarded the Paige Nelson Award for American History, the Dean’s Challenge Award, inducted into Phi Alpha Theta (National Honor Society for History majors), and also one of seven people nominated for Best Senior Seminar Paper.

“Music is something that has always come easily to me,” said Dyer. “I’ve won prizes and awards throughout my life for being a musician, but never for academic reasons. It almost feels like I worked harder for that than anything.”

Paige Nelson Award for American History is awarded to outstanding History majors pursuing History as a career.

The Dean’s Challenge award is for Students who have excelled while making challenging academic choices.

“It makes me feel proud for her, to acknowledge her accomplishments, and it makes
dyer-2 me proud of the organization, we have such fine Soldier musicians that are dedicated not only to the mission at hand, but to their own development,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph M. Newby, Commander of the FDC. “That they use that development for the betterment of the unit.”

Dyer said she is enrolling in the master’s program at George Mason University in education when she retires from the FDC next fall.

The ultimate goal is to become a history teacher, Dyer said.

“I think she’s going to be a great teacher because of her passion for the field of history,” said Newby.

History, unlike music, was a subject Dyer struggled with in high school. Dyer failed history, she said.

It took the inspiration of a dynamic professor while she was earning her associates degree to ignite her passion for history, she said.

Dyer came to FDC in 1997, straight from her High School in Michigan.

As a member of a Fife and Drum Corps before she joined the military, Dyer said a position in FDC was her dream job.

FDC is essentially the big leagues for fife and drum, she said.

The huge demands on her time forced her to earn an associates degree over a 13-year period, Dyer said.

“When I transferred to George Mason, it was like, okay, clocks ticking,” said Dyer. “I really have to get this degree so I can have a job when I retire.”

Working on her bachelor’s degree full time, Dyer said she balances her duties as a college student, full time Soldier musician, a mother, a wife, and as the human resources noncommissioned officer in charge for the FDC.

“She is a stellar musician, she is a superb leader, she knows how to balance her life,” said Newby. “She is many things to many people, and her ability to juggle and balance all those things, while maintaining an even keel, is astounding to me.”

“She has an outstanding work ethic,” said Newby. “Our NCO’s have multiple tasks responsibilities, jobs, collateral duties, the scope of which can be overwhelming.”

Working on days off to process awards and maybe some homework in her office at FDC is a regular occurrence, Dyer said.

“She’s not a 42 alpha series (Human Resource Specialist),” said Newby. “All of our support shops are staffed by FDC members. We receive no formal training in our additional duties.”

“The challenge is not having enough hours in a day,” said Dyer. “Often times I comedyer back from where ever the kids have been, I’m exhausted, but I still got a paper due at midnight.”

Despite the heavy workload, Dyer has maintained a 3.95 grade point average.

The FDC has been supportive of her educational pursuits. For example, Dyer’s fellow Soldier Musicians will trade missions so she can attend study sessions.

“Everybody gets it,” said Dyer.

“There is so much academic diversity in the Fife and Drum Corps, they understand,” said Dyer. “We have people with doctorates, master’s degrees, and honestly we’re getting more that is the norm.”

Newby said the Soldier Musicians in FDC as very cerebral and scholarly.

Before leaving the military, Dyer said she would work as a substitute teacher when her schedule has an opening so she can work her way up to a full time position.

It is her role in The Old Guard Dyer said that has contributed to her dogged determination to be successful, despite feeling overwhelmed at times.

“I’ve always been such a perfectionist, but never felt like I was good enough, even here,” said Dyer. “You always want to be better, want to be better, want to be better.”

“That’s how The Old Guard is. My shoes have to be shinier then yours, I have to stand at attention longer than you,” said Dyer. “Its such a mental game.”

The things she has been able to achieve academically have hopefully made her a role model for her daughters, she said.

“The younger one already said she wants to go to George Mason University,” said Dyer. “Just like mom.”

Varied Experiences Help Define New Drill Team Commander

The U.S. Army Drill Team (USADT) has a new Commander.

1st Lt. Matthew D. Daghita is no stranger to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) however, he was prevDAGHITAiously enlisted and was assigned to The Old Guard from 2004-2007, serving in the Continental Color Guard (CCG).

Working as both a Infantryman (11b) and Forward Observer (13b) Daghita finished his initial contract after three and a half years.

Daghita entered the Virginia and later the Texas National Guard.

Finding himself missing active duty, Daghita decided to enter the Officer Corps in 2012.

After attending Officer Candidate School, Daghita went through Ranger School in 2013.

Describing Ranger School as “definitely interesting”. Daghita found Ranger school to be a lot about personal reflection.

“It’s more mental than anything,” said Daghita. “You do a lot of thinking about yourself, your life, what you are doing, who you are and where you want to go.”

Ranger School forces those attending to evaluate what is ultimately motivating them to become Rangers: ego versus a true desire to better oneself, said Daghita.

Daghita was assigned to Fort Bragg and deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014.

His prior experience being enlisted has helped make Daghita an empathetic leader.

“The biggest thing is knowing where the Soliders come from, knowing what they deal with everyday,” said Daghita. “I’ll never forget the stuff I went through as a private or junior enlisted, I’ll always keep that in the back of my mind.”

A challenge for Daghita making the transition from a non-commissioned officer to an officer was changing his mindset

JointServDrill-33            “The toughest part for a lot of us going from non-commissioned to commissioned is leaving that NCO mentality behind us a little bit,” said Daghita. “As a prior enlisted you have to step back and let the NCO’s do their job. Don’t be looking over their shoulder, don’t micromanage them. Trust your NCO’s, they are NCO’s for a reason. Let them do what they’ve got to do.”

As a member of CCG, Daghita participated in numerous high visibility missions including the Fiesta Bowl in San Antonio, Baltimore Ravens home games, and Washington Nationals Games.

“Its not something new for me,” said Daghita. “Yes, its been a while so I have get back to the feeling again, going in front of thousands and thousands of people. Its something I’ve done before. So I’m not very nervous about it.”

CCG has helped him be prepared for the high visibility missions that the USADT carry out.

“I know what to expect,” said Daghita. “I have to learn the Drill Team’s way of handling missions and stuff like that, but yes I think it definitely helps.”

Exuding confidence is essential to leading the USADT, Daghita said. He needs to be able to give commands.

During his first stint with The Old Guard he was part of the element, and now leading the element requires a change of pace said Daghita.

“It’s a good change,” said Daghita. “I don’t regret it one bit.”

The USADT has some major events to start the busy summer season, in June a trip JointServDrill-32up the east coast to perform for the National Hot Rod Association in NJ is followed up immediately by a stop in New York City for the U.S. Army Birthday celebration.

Daghita’s goals for the USADT are simple.

“Just continue doing great things,” said Daghita. “They are always out there in front of the public, they’re the face of the Army.”

Through his varied experiences, Daghita wants to continue to develop as a leader by not forgetting what led him to this prestigious assignment.

“I try to keep all the stuff I’ve learned in the past with me,” said Daghita. “Not try to forget it as I grow up higher in the ranks as an officer.”

 

Fife and Drum Goes Back to School

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To commemorate the battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the town of Lexington, Ma, hosts an annual celebration in mid-April called “Patriots Day”.
The 3d Infantry Regiment’s (The Old Guard’s) Fife and Drum Corps (FDC) and Commander and Chief’s Guard (CINC) have been invited to take part in this festival centered on the first armed engagement between the British soldiers and colonial militiamen.
“Patriots Day is a big event in Lexington; its big all around town,” said Jeff Leonard, the K-12 Coordinator for Performing Arts at Lexington Schools. “Having The Old Guard here the last three years has really added some prestige and some interest to it.”
The 2016 Patriots Day celebration features The Old Guard in several events. FDC is playing several concerts and CINC is performing a firing demonstration.
Selectmen Suzanne E. Barry, an elected official in Lexington that makes policy and oversees the Town government, mentioned to Leonard FDC would be in town.

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Leonard was already familiar with The Old Guard and saw an educational opportunity.
“Personally, I grew up in the DC area so I was always a fan of military bands and would check out the concerts and all the ceremonies, so it was something that I grew up with,” said Leonard. “The idea of sharing that with our students when the Selectmen Susie Barry said this was an opportunity was exciting for me.”
FDC performed at Lexington High School on April 15, 2016. After the performance, Leonard arranged for the FDC musicians to host a workshop for students. 
The FDC’s presentation to students helps broaden their horizons, said Leonard.
The varied backgrounds of the Soldiers in FDC gets students excited about a unique opportunity they may not have previously considered, said Leonard.
“It just opens their minds that are possible,” said Leonard. “It also presents the military in an entirely different light, the sort work that gets done, the options they are going to have moving forward, it opens up a new pathway for them.”
The Soldiers imparted their years of musical knowledge to the students of Lexington, sharing the history of musicians in the Army and answering

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questions from the students.
“Today’s workshop was to bring the story of the American Revolutionary War music to the students of Lexington High School,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Delaune. “And to also share with them some of the fundamentals of musicianship and brass playing we’ve established over our careers.”
The goal is to help students maximize their potential, said Delaune.
The students seized the opportunity to get tips from professionals that routinely play in front of foreign dignitaries and the President of the United States.
“Some of the questions were geared toward mechanics of sound production and how to play in time, how to work together as a team, because every time we come to a job like this, we’re working with different people,” said Delaune. “How do we overcome some of those obstacles of constantly changing personnel to achieve the level that we do.”
Delaune sees a lot of benefits in conducting workshops like this one.
“As a high school student I never had these kinds of opportunities,” said

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Delaune. “I think its fantastic the Army’s able to bring these programs into schools, and let them experience things that they otherwise would probably never see.”
Leonard found FDC’s performance and workshop even personally inspiring.
“These things are always so stirring,” said Leonard.
Ultimately students get a chance to think about service, and how the sacrifice of young people like themselves have contributed to their way of life, said Leonard.
“It never fails to impress me how impressed they are when its done,” said Leonard.

Caisson Platoon Hosts Iconic Guests

WIDEWAGON-5           The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon has some famous guests in the barn.

The East Coast Budweiser Clydesdales are in town to make a Full-Hitch Appearance at the Washington Nationals home opener and a Washington Capital’s game.

The Clydesdales are staying on Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall.

Dave Thomas, originally of the Chicago area, has been a member of the Budweiser Clydesdale team for 15 years.

“Its neat to be a part of such an old tradition here with The Old Guard. These are two of the oldest horse units in the country to have been going continuously,” said Thomas. “Its pretty cool we get to stay together from time to time.”

“It seems like we come back to Fort Myer every couple years,” said Thomas. “We CLYDES-43enjoy coming and seeing what’s going on at the Caisson, the hospitality everyone shows us.”

“The facilities here are top notch,” said Thomas. “One of the finest around, we always enjoy coming.”

The Clydesdales will stay on military bases or mounted police barracks as they make their way across the country for their average 200 yearly appearances.

Thomas grew up showing horses and says getting a job with the Budweiser Clydesdales was his “dream job”.

Thomas said that much like the average Soldier in The Old Guard, Budweiser Clydesdales are given a haircut once a week to ensure they are always ready for a photo shoot or ceremony.

Budweiser Clydesdales have shared the stage with The Old Guard twice at Presidential inaugurations. They appeared in 1949 for Missouri native Harry Truman’s inaugural parade, and then again in 1993 for Bill Clinton’s.

For an average appearance, six people work to get the Clydesdales ready 5-6 hours.

CLYDES-10            The preparation for an appearance includes braiding the manes and inserting red and white roses.

Thomas said this East Coast team is based out of Merrimack, New Hampshire. It is one of three teams. The other two are based out of St. Louis and Fort Collins, Colorado.

The menu for Clydesdales Ivan, Charlie, Master, Royal, Jack, Lucky, Chuck, Phoenix, Rico, and Nomo includes as much as 20 to 25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, 40 to 50 pounds of hay, and 30 gallons of water per day.

Standing between 6 feet tall at the shoulder, Budweiser Clydesdales weigh 1,800 to
CLYDES-50 2,300 pounds.

In addition to the 8-hitch horses, Barley the Dalmatian is also an overnight guest.

Dalmatians were introduced to the team on March 30, 1950 as their official mascot.

The Clydesdales were introduced in 1933 after the repeal of Prohibition.

According to their official website, “Anheuser-Busch owns approximately 250 Clydesdales; they continue to be an enduring symbol of the brewer’s heritage, tradition and commitment to quality.”

“Its been a few years since we’ve been back to the DC area,” said Thomas. “We always enjoy coming.”

FDC Welcomes Newest Bugler

FDCThe 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment’s Fife and Drum Corps (FDC) held auditions March 30-31st to fill a Bugle player vacancy.

Charlotte F. Olson, originally from Haddonfield, NJ, was selected as the newest Bugle player.

Olson said she saw the FDC while they were in Boston for a performance of “Spirit of America” and was impressed by how FDC not only sounded but how they looked.

Finishing up her doctorate degree in Trumpet Performance at Boston University, Olson has a Master’s degree in Trumpet performance from Boston University and a Bachelor’s degree in Trumpet and musical education from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.

Day one of the audition begins with a marching assessment and a 30-minute standing proficiency that tests the candidate’s ability and adaptability.

Marching will be Olson’s biggest challenge, she said.

Day two of the audition requires playing both memorized and provided musical selections, and playing with a section.

Currently Olson teaches elementary school children.

Olson found out she was selected the day before her 27th birthday.

“This is the best birthday present,” she said.

 

Olson-1

(left to right) Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph Newby, Master Sgt. Sandra Quaschnick, Master Sgt. Patrick Richard, Ms. Charlotte Olson, Master Sgt. Russell Smith, Sgt. 1st Class James Monroe.

“I’m really, really excited,” said Olson. “This is something I’ve been working for since August. I’ve been working for this many, many months and I’m glad I put all the time in.”

 

The next step for Olson will be completing Basic Combat Training.

“I think it’ll be an interesting experience that will be good for me,” said Olson. “To really be forced to push through something that I anticipate will be strenuous.”

The position requires the exclusive use of a single valve, B-flat “Kanstul“ Bugle.

In addition to performing with the corps, buglers provide support for military funerals.

The Fife and Drum Corps is comprised of 70 musicians whose main duty is the ceremonial support of military functions within the National Capital region. Ceremonial duties are largely conducted outdoors and involve prolonged periods of standing and marching.

“I love playing the Trumpet, the bugle. I really like being in shape and being active,” said Olson. “I think this is a great combination of the two.”

Drill Team’s First Female Commander Begins New Endeavor

17113353365_1b0793608a_mThe U.S. Army Drill Team (USADT) is a precision drill platoon with the primary mission of showcasing the U.S. Army both nationally and internationally through breathtaking routines with bayonet-tipped 1903 Springfield rifles. The USADT has performed for military, government, non-profit, and civilian organizations for more than 50 years.

Recently, the first ever female officer served as the commander for the USADT, Capt. Lauran D. Glover.

This is a period of transition for Glover, this fall she is set to begin a doctoral program in clinical psychology at the American School of Professional Psychology in D.C.

Becoming a Psychologist that helps service members has been her goal since joining the Army. Glover said her motivation for joining was to have a shared experiences with members of the military that could help her gain insight.

 

Glover joined the U.S. Army after graduating from the University of Findlay in September 2011. She worked as a military police platoon leader before becoming the drill commander.

Initially Glover ruled out any chance of joining the USADT because she did not fit the typical mode of the team’s leadership. Traditionally, the Commander was a male infantry officer.

A previous USADT platoon sergeant told Glover to look into becoming the drill 19949532621_bd45e7cd78_mcommander, a position no woman has ever held. After some apprehension, she inquired about the position, and was selected for the opportunity in November 2014.

Her accomplishment has left her feeling like anything is possible, said Glover.

“To me, it means I shouldn’t limit myself,” said Glover. “Hopefully everyone see that as well, not just women, or Military Police Officers. Don’t limit yourself.”

Glover describes her assignment as Commander as “rewarding, but difficult”.

When first taking command, Glover said the attention of the new position made her feel isolated.

“I felt like I was under a microscope,” said Glover. “It didn’t feel like I had much support, initially.”

The resistance, however, to a woman becoming the leader of the USADT was mainly from people outside of the U.S. Army.

“But when you think about it and put the criticism into perspective, who’s opinion do I really care about?” said Glover. “I have got to do a job, and as long as my Soldiers are taken care of, and they have what they need, I don’t really have a problem with people outside of my organization have to say.”

Internally, there were no signs of the Soldiers taking issue with Glover’s gender or MOS.

Challenges that faced Glover initially were reconciling the various needs of the team members and understanding the different nuances of the team, she said.

Members of the USADT have a variety of military occupational specialties (MOS) which require individualized training to give those members an opportunity to be the best at their MOS, said Glover.

“You have the outreach aspect, you have the drilling aspect, you have the training, basic Soldiering skills aspect,” said Glover. “There are a lot different things that go into making the team successful.”

Glover persevered and she hopes to have helped in the advancement of the team.

17113361895_fe1daaf055_mThrough their daring and complex performances, the U.S. Army Drill Team acts as “good-will ambassadors” for the Army, supporting community relations and recruiting efforts on behalf of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the U.S. Army.

Many of these opportunities become available through networking. Glover reached out to the Columbus Crew, a Major League Soccer Team, for example. After performing once for the MLS club, the Columbus Crew has asked the USADT to return, said Glover.

Cultivating relationships like this one has helped Glover to increase the reach of the USADT she hopes it will help to continually grow, she said.

In terms of being a role model, Glover said she understands that the USADT’s mission through outreach encourages all team members behave as such.

As often as USADT goes to a school, whether it be an elementary, middle or high school, or college or ROTC program, Glover said she expresses to the USADT they may be the only service members that people actually meet or talk to.

March is Women’s history month, and women that have inspired Glover to reach higher include her mother, a 28-year Air Force veteran.

Another female role model is Capt. Carmela Wooten, an intelligence officer Glover met when she was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Wooten was one of the few other females stationed with Glover, and went out of her way to mentor and befriend her, said Glover.

Glover’s advice for the next drill commander is simple: understand the needs of the Soldiers, don’t be afraid to take advice from past members, and put your own initiatives and vision forward to better the team and their situation.

“It has great being a member of the team,” said Glover. ‘But always try to make it better.”

She wishes nothing but continued success for the drill team, and will miss seeing the team members grow and meet their full potential.

“I think the sky’s the limit,” said Glover. “They are very talented and capable individuals.”