Old Guard sends first female NCO to infantry training

sylvester-rivera-1-of-2On December 3, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter removed gender restrictions to all military occupational specialties (MOS). Combat arms positions in the infantry (11B), formerly only open to males, would become fully integrated.

The newly adopted integration policy interested Sgt, Brittany Sylvester-Rivera. She wanted to switch her MOS, but there was a small problem initially.

“When this first came out, they said I wasn’t in my window to re-class,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

But on August 1 of 2016, the Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A Dailey published a memo urging female non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) to volunteer for combat roles.

“We need leaders to help shape the next generation of combat soldiers,” Dailey wrote. “I know we have female soldiers with the drive and ability to be successful in ground combat arms formations. If you think you have what it takes, I am personally asking you to consider transferring to these select combat arms specialties.”

“When I received that email, I went straight to the retention NCO,” Sylvester-Rivera said.

Sylvester-Rivera has served as a signal support systems specialist for seven and a half years. Currently, she is assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and is re-classing to the infantry. Sylvester-Rivera is the first female NCO accepted into infantry.

“Its really what I wanted to do, it is a dream of mine,” added Sylvester-Rivera.


2nd Lt. Leah Mullenix, Team 23, 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), crawls under barbed wire with her individual assigned weapon during a low crawl event of the “x-mile” portion of the Best Sapper Competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., April 21, 2016. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Fort Leonardwood Public Affairs)

Being the first female to do something is not uncharted territory for Sylvester-Rivera. In Airborne School, Sylvester-Rivera was the first female honor graduate.


Describing herself as a “physical person”, Sylvester-Rivera doesn’t doubt her ability to adapt to the physicality of her new role. However, she will be challenged to learn the nuances of her new position.

“Mentally, I really did not know everything that went into the MOS being an 11B,” continued Sylvester-Rivera. “The more I study on it, and get taught.”

The Houston native will be leaving in May of 2017 to begin infantry training. In anticipation, Sylvester-Rivera is learning the verbiage used in the infantry and how to conduct a patrol from current infantry Soldiers assigned at The Old Guard.

In addition to the support she is receiving from other Old Guard Soldiers, Sylvester-Rivera can also count on her parents.

“My mom is like hey, this is your dream, if anyone can achieve it, you can,” Sylvester-Rivera continued.

Sylvester-Rivera doesn’t necessarily see herself as a role model for women, but simply someone going after a life long calling.

“Its a good thing I’m going to make a path,” added Sylvester-Rivera. “If I help other females along the way, great. But I want to help anybody, females and males.”

Yet she does want to be an example for her son.

“I want him to see no matter what, you can follow your dreams,” said Sylvester-Rivera. “I really want to show my son this is something that I’ve wanted to do, and I want to show him he can do anything he wants to do.”

Master Sgt. Phillip A. Durousseau, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment Signal Noncommissioned officer-in-charge, is Sylvester-Rivera’s supervisor. He has assisted Sylvester-Rivera and another female officer re-classing into the infantry.

“They are go getters, alpha type personalities,” said Durousseau. “They have the drive and the mental acuity to be successful.”


Maj. Lisa Jaster participates in the Darby Queen obstacle course as part of their training at the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., June 28, 2015. She became the third woman to earn the Ranger Tab. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Brooks/ Released)

Integrating the combat arms fields is a positive for the Army, Durousseau added. Durousseau worked with a female airman performing in a combat capacity, as a gunner, while in Afghanistan.

“Some people think females can’t handle what a male can handle,” said Sylvester-Rivera. “It has nothing to do with gender.”

Sylvester-Rivera’s goals as an infantry NCO have more to do with her role as a team leader and less as the first female infantry NCO.

“Make sure I bring my men back alive and take care of my men.” continued Sylvester-Rivera.

The pressure to prove herself is not something Sylvester-Rivera is worried about. She will earn the respect of her men through her actions, she said.

“I am capable of doing the same thing that you are, or better,” said Sylvester-Rivera. “As long as I know what I’m doing.”

The long-term career goal for Sylvester-Rivera is to eventually become the Sergeant Major of the Army, she said. It is a role that can help Soldiers in a tangible way and have the most positive impact on their lives, she said.

In the meantime, Sylvester-Rivera has a mix of emotions about the challenge that awaits her in May of 2017. She estimated around 19 other females will be embarking on this new chapter for the infantry.

“I’m really excited, I’m thrilled,” Sylvester-Rivera said. “I’m honored.”





Soldier, civilian with 35 years in the saddle


burks-8-of-8           Locations on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall are named for people that have made significant contributions to the legacy of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). Summerall Field, Whipple Field and Folland Hall are all examples of places that honor Soldiers.

Most examples are named posthumously. However, at the Eugene Burks Jr. Leather Shop, one can find the namesake not only on the sign but working inside the shop.

Burks was first assigned to The Old Guard in 1981. Burks held many positions in the 15 years he was assigned to the Caisson including saddler, stable manager, and finally as the platoon sergeant.

After retiring from the Army in 1996, Burks was brought back as a civilian employee the following year to perform the same role he held as a Solider.

burks-7-of-8For 35 years, Burks has manufactured and maintained the 1916 horse tack. Horse tack is defined as pieces of equipment or accessories equipped on horses. Saddles,bridles, stirrups, reins, harnesses, and breastplates are examples of horse tack.

“We outfit all the horses, all their harnesses, tack, inventory, tack maintenance, or teach how to do the tack maintenance and how to do the proper adjustments for the tack every morning before they go out into the burks-5-of-8cemetery,” said Burks. “We also handle all of the logistics and supplies needed for us to function.”

Burk’s leather shop orders all of the hay, shavings, grain, and handles all of the contracts for the Caisson Platoon.

Before arriving, Burks had never built a saddle, but wasn’t new to manufacturing.

“I had some experience with sewing machines and fabrication, because my MOS (military occupational specialty) was 43K, which was canvas and light textile repair,” said Burks. “We actually made and repaired tents, at that time gamma go (vehicle) covers, clothing.”

Learning to sew from his grandmother at an early age helped prepare him for his job in the Army. Burks first sewed uniforms, nametags, patches, class “A” (dress) uniforms and shoes.

Burk’s grandmother was a dressmaker. From her, Burks learned how to cut out patterns when manufacturing.

The only difference is instead of fabric, Burks would be creating with leather.

Before Burks arrived to The Old Guard, infantry Soldiers were performing the duty. He was the first Soldier with his MOS assigned to the unit.

Since Soldiers are reassigned so often, creating a standard was nearly impossible. Every time a Soldier left, he brought all of his skills with him, said Burks.

So when he arrived, Burks was given a limited amount of training and everything else had to be self-taught, Burks added.

burks-2-of-8Contracts with various vendors would lead to variations in the type of tack used, said Burks. A turning point came in the mid-1990’s.

“About 20 years ago or so, one of the warrant officers came across the microfiche of the original 1916 equipment,” continued Burks. “That allowed us to standardize everything that we use.”

Everything from the stitch count, thickness of the leather and the dimensions of hardware is derived from the original 1916 schematics, said Burks.

Keeping the tack in near perfect shape for memorial affairs missions demands constant upkeep. Many pieces that would be usable in most instances are replaced to meet the high standard of The Old Guard, Burks added.

“He’s always out there inspecting the tack,” said Caisson Solider Spc. Robert Wilcher. “If you ever need anything, he’s always on point with getting it fixed as quickly as possible.”

Caisson Soldiers admire his attention to detail.

“Anytime we need anything done to the saddles, paired on the saddles, he’s always the guy that you go to,” said Wilcher. “He knows how to work with them, how to size them, any care that has to be done.”

All of the adjustments Burks makes to the tack come from the original 1916 manual. The burks-3-of-8adjustments ensure the horses are safe from injuries from the equipment rubbing their skin raw, continued Burks.

Burks instructs Soldiers during the Basic Horsemanship course which covers the basics of maintaining the tack.

Riders will in most cases spend more time cleaning their tack than riding, said Burks.

“Shining a lot of brass, spit-shining the saddles.” Burks added.

The tack is used in literally thousands of missions over the years. The saddles are present at every funeral. Burks takes his contribution to every funeral seriously. “My biggest thing is making sure when these guys leave out of here (stable), they are the absolute best as they can be as far as appearance,” said Burks. “I take a lot of pride in what I do. I really believe in tradition and history.”

Passing on his vast knowledge that exceeds over 30 years of experience is also a priority. He will teach as much as someone is willing to listen. That can range from tack, to just being a Soldier in general. Burks will not steer them wrong, he added.

“Working with young men, encouraging and teaching them not just about tack, but about life,” said Burks. ”I think I’m very good at it.”

Burks said he feels this is his calling.

Burks hopes to retire in the next 2-3 years. But he will only retire once he feels his successor can handle the responsibilities.

Burks wants his legacy to carry on beyond just his name on the sign.

“The job of repairing the tack and designing, that’s nothing. We can do that all day,” said Burks. “But being consistent and dedicated, and believing in what you are telling them, trusting these manuals.”

“I want to have somebody that is going to know why we do what we do. Once you lose history like that, its gone,” said Burks.




The Old Guard Transfers Possible 170-year-old Brothers in Arms


Repatriation of Remain and Dignified Transfer

In a Repatriation of Remains event, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations personnel and The Old Guard transfer the remains of U.S. Army Soldiers from a C-12 aircraft during a dignified transfer Sept. 28, 2016, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, the remains of 13 American Soldiers that are thought to have fought in the Mexican-American War were received by the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Delaware.

The Old Guard conducts dignified transfers of the remains of fallen service members when arriving in the National Capital Region regularly as part of its mission as the nation’s premier memorial affairs and ceremonial unit of the U.S. Army.

This transfer is especially notable due to the fact the 170-year-old remains are of troops that fought along with, or perhaps as members of The Old Guard, at the Battle of Monterey.

The two-year Mexican-American War began in 1846. The Old Guard, the Army’s oldest active infantry regiment, fought in most of the major battles of the war. These battles included Palo Alto, the invasion and Siege of Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Churubusco and Chapultepec.

The conflicts origins began with the forming of the Mexican Republic in 1824. The Mexican government, at the time, was prone to instability.

Indian raids on the Mexican border prompted the Mexican government to institute a


Adolphe Jean-Baptiste Bayot – Published in the 1851 book “The War Between the United States and Mexico, Illustrated”.

policy of attracting American migration to the province of Texas. The hope was the Americans that settled in Texas would act as a buffer and lessen the impact of the Indian raids.


Americans and some of the Mexicans in Texas revolted against Mexico in October of 1835. The result was the Texas Republic that was not recognized by the Mexican Government. Mexican troops and Texan defenders skirmished throughout the 1840’s.


Montgomery, Henry. The Life of Major General Zachary Taylor. New York: J. C. Derby, 1847. Permission: Illinois State University

In 1844, the annexation of Texas was a major issue in the Presidential Campaign. When pro-annexation candidate James K. Polk won the election, Texas was annexed in 1845.

Annexation of Texas escalated the conflict. Mexico and the United States were unable to come to a diplomatic solution and open war followed.

General Zachary Taylor, who served as a Major in The Old Guard in 1816, commanded the U.S. forces in the Battle of Monterey in September 1846.

Hugh Berryman, director of the forensic institute research and education at Middle Tennessee State University, was present Wednesday at Dover Air Force Base.

Repatriation of Remain and Dignified Transfer

(U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Berryman said his understanding was that the Soldiers repatriated this week were assaulting a tannery at the time of their death. The DNA from the skeletal remains will be used to attempt to identify the Soldiers.

The Mexican Government uncovered the remains six years ago outside of Monterey. After negotiating with the U.S. State Department, the Soldiers have finally been returned home.

Two Generations of Old Guard Soldiers Reflect on 9/11


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.


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.