My first week of ROP training

Story by Sgt. Nicholas Holmes

FORT JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – The Regimental Orientation Program, more commonly known as ROP amongst The Old Guard members, is a three week hands-on-developmental training for new Old Guard soldiers at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

When I arrived at TOG I immediately learned about ROP as I began to converse with Soldiers in my new command. I was generally told what ROP is and some of the standards required to pass the course. Requirements, such as long stands at attention and hours of marching with rifles.

I was honor to be a part of the oldest active infantry regiment in the Army however, I was also slightly intimidated by what I was learning about this three week training.

On the first day Sgt. Gary White, a week one ROP instructor, explained the standards to pass for the first week, which focused on the preparation of the Army Service Uniform.

We were required to pass an ASU inspection with less than seven deficiency and complete a 45-minute stand at the positions attention and parade rest.

The inspection was graded on a 100-point scale that evaluated the appearance of our uniform. We were evaluated individually for deficiencies which included, placements of decorations, cleanliness of uniform and our physical appearance, among others.

During the first day of training, we covered the ceremonial cap, ribbon rack building and started placing decorations and awards on our uniforms.

The training began with how to alter the C-Cap so that it is worn to the specifications of The Old Guard. This required us to apply measured pieces of wire to the interior of the caps so that they would sit properly.

Following this lesson, instructors led the class through a step-by-step process of building award ribbon racks.

“A lot of Soldiers have a challenge with the meticulous aspect of building the metals rack,” said White. “It is a lot like arts and crafts and a lot of Soldiers just aren’t used to having to do this.”

Using tin, ribbon, a hot glue gun and a razor to mark our measurements, we began this tedious process, paying careful attention to detail. After each step instructors would evaluate each of our racks before moving to the next step.

I appreciated this because it ensured we were executing each step correctly. I feel that it increased understanding and kept the instruction at a steady pace.

After completing the ribbons rack, instructors applied this same teaching method to pin our uniforms.

The following day the instruction was on how to steam and press our uniforms.

While in the pressing room instructors worked with each of us individually to teach the functions of the machines and the process of pressing each of our ASU garments.

The instructors were great at explaining this process. Additionally, they shared their personal tips to avoid common mistakes and helpful ways to correct common errors.

The class prior to test day, Soldiers were given additional time to ask questions and use any of the equipment to ensure uniforms met the standards to pass.

The morning of the test was daunting. I was confident in my uniform, however I was nervous about standing for 45 minutes. I believed I did everything I could do to prepare.

I got a good night rest, ate a healthy breakfast and consumed plenty of water. All I could do now was focus on the task in front of me.

In the warm classroom, I looked straight ahead into the mirror in front of me, moving from each position as instructed. By the time my feet began to go numb and the sweat had soaked through my shirt, the instructor finally called for us to fallout and the test was complete.

I was happy to know I made it to the next portion of the training and was excited to learn more about what is takes to be an Old Guard Soldier.

Joint base makes safety a priority

Story by: Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ringold

3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. — Safety comes first in the military.  Mission success depends on the hard work and efforts of everyone collectively.  Losing any member of the team is a severe blow to any organization.  Learning how to reduce those risks is an important measure taken by leadership every day.

The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participated in a garrison wide Safety Stand Down Day May 12, 2017, on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.

Safety Stand Down occurs every May prior to the 101 days of summer.

Joined by both military and civilian organizations including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Fairfax County PD, JBM-HH Fire Department and Resiliency training from country singer Jimmy Wayne to name a few, everyone participated with the same mission in mind.

“Safety remains a priority for the Army, Military District of Washington, and the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment,” said Col. Jason T. Garkey, regimental commander.  “Off Duty incidents continue to be among the Army’s biggest challenges. It is important to emphasize certain safety topics and mitigating factors in order to maintain our ability to perform our daily missions and preserve the force.”

Having 13 local and outside entities there to support Safety Stand Down showed how serious the regiment takes protecting its Soldiers.

“We want our Soldiers to think about safety all of the time,” explained Kerry K. Kolhof, Safety and Occupational Health Manager for the regiment.  “However Safety Day is a chance to focus on safety as a mission and not something running in the background.”

With classes on motorcycle safety, distracted driving, fire safety and home gun safety among others, Soldiers had topics that resonated with everyone.

“The most important thing Soldiers can take away from Safety Day is the fact that even with the chain of command stressing safety, they themselves are responsible for their safety and the safety of the people around them,” said Kolhof.”

Spc. Paul Jacobson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt., has been in the Army for almost 5 years, and got the most out of Dominion Energy’s electrical safety class.

“It helped bring awareness to things that could seriously harm individuals and we learned how to react to them,” said Jacobson.  “It had a lot of good information that a lot of people don’t think about.”

With another Safety Stand Down having come and gone, it’s every leaders hope that the things Soldiers learned today will be put into practice everyday.

Goggles.jpg

EnterCommand Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (TOG) Command sergeant major, tries to walk normally while wearing the impaired vision goggles May 12, 2017 during Safety Stand Down Day at JBM-HH, Va.  Provided by the Army Substance Abuse Program, the goggles were designed to show Soldiers the dangers of doing everyday things while impaired. (Photos by Pfc. Gabriel Silva)

Power.jpg

Enter aSoldiers from the 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (TOG) look on as during a demonstration from Dominion Energy during Safety Stand Down Day May 12, 2017 on JBM-HH, Va.  As part of Safety Stand Down, Soldiers were shown the dangers of downed power lines and taught electrical safety tips. (Photos by Pfc. Gabriel Silva)

Swim.jpg

Enter Service members from the U.S. Coast Guard participate in Safety Stand Down Day May 12, 2017 on JBM-HH, Va.  With summer approaching, Coast Guard service members taught the Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (TOG) water and safety tips to help prevent any water related injuries. (Photos by Pfc. Gabriel Silva)

“As a leader it is my hope that those who attended Safety Day took away the knowledge needed to prevent injury or death of a civilian, Soldier or family member,” said 1st Sgt. Phillip A. DuRousseau Sr., HHC first sergeant.  “One injury or death is one too many especially when they could have been prevented by safe practices.”

 

Old Guard Soldiers lay Revolutionary War veteran to final resting place

Story by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Clouds hung low overhead creating a soft and divine backdrop around the small cemetery that morning. The sound of rain hitting the blush green leafs of trees surrounding the quant outdoor chapel is all that can be heard.

Generations of family members, friends, local officials and members from the community slowly gathered into the chapel, located at the bottom of the cemetery’s rolling hills.

Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participated in a reinterment ceremony for an American Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Howard, his wife and their infant on May 12, 2017, at Resthaven Cemetery in Baxter, Kentucky.

“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work accomplished by the corps and the Howard family along with local officials to save these remains,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Toy, commander of The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Division, (USACE SPD). “This is an example of the Army’s commitment to taking care of Soldiers and their families in life and beyond.”

Howard died on December 5, 1840 in Harlan County, Kentucky. He was 78 years old.

Howard, Chloe his wife and their unnamed infant were originally laid to rest over 177 years ago at Highlands Cemetery in Cumberland, Kentucky. Due to development of the area in the 1970s the family’s remains where relocated to Wix Howard Cemetery in Harlan, Kentucky.

The Wix Howard Cemetery lies along steep slopes of the Cumberland River. In the late 1990s, USACE constructed diversion channels in an effort to prevent the river from further eroding the cemetery grounds.

After 20 years, the diversion channel began to slide into the river and threatened portions of the cemetery. This required the immediate exhumations of the family’s graves in addition to three others.

Sharon Osborne and Stephanie Fisther, descendants of Howard, navigate multiple local and national levels of government channels in the effort to save the family’s remains from sliding into the river.

They eventually got the attention of The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lakes and River Nashville, (USACE LRN).

“Both of them were very instrumental in saving the Howard’s remains,” said Craig Carrington, chief of plan formulation section with USACE LRN. “They worked very close with the corps.”

In November 2016, USACE LRN successfully recovered the family’s remains and secured the remains at the Resthaven Cemetery.

“This was a learning process for everyone involved,” said Maj. Christopher Burkhart, deputy commander with USACE LRN. “But, we were committed to ensuring this was done right so that we could render the proper honor to Samuel and his family.”

Howard enlisted into the Army in 1778 and served in Captain Mayo Carrington’s Company of the Virginia Line during the Revolutionary War.

He served seven years under General George Washington’s command. Howard witnessed British General Charles Cornwallis surrender 8,000 British soldiers to Washington in 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia. This brought the American Revolution War to a close.

Howard and Chloe married in 1784, the couple went on to have 12 children.

The Howard family moved to Kentucky in 1796, just four years after the state adopted its statehood constitution.

The family was among the first settlers to come to Harlan County. Howard was active in many community affairs and is considered by many to be one of the county’s founding leader.

As the nation’s premier memorial affair’s unit USACE reached out to The Old Guard to perform the ceremony.

The Old Guard Soldiers participation in the ceremony was appreciated by USACE leaders.

“I want to thank The Old Guard Soldiers for traveling all this way to be here today,” said Toy. “It is fitting and proper to have them here on this occasion.”

33836852194_0e5d9533be_o

Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, (The Old Guard) carry the remains of an American Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Howard during a reinterment ceremony on May 12, 2017 at Resthaven Cemetery in Baxter, Kentucky. The family’s remains were exhumed from Wix Howard Cemetery in Harlan, Kentucky due to erosion. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes)

34517332192_9ac385f50f_o

Brig. Gen. Mark Toy, commander of The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Division, presents the national colors to Sharon Osborne, a descendent of American Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Howard, during a reinterment ceremony on May 12, 2017 at Resthaven Cemetery in Baxter, Kentucky. Osborne worked closely with USACE representatives to save the family’s remains from eroding away in the Cumberland River. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes)

34548833531_87b17f05d6_o

Soldiers from the3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, (The Old Guard) stand at present arms to honor the national colors during the reinterment ceremony of American Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Howard on May 12, 2017 at Resthaven Cemetery in Baxter, Kentucky. The family’s remains were exhumed from Wix Howard Cemetery in Harlan, Kentucky due to erosion. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes)

“We were esteemed to have the Soldiers from 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, participate in the rendering of the military honors,” said Carrington.

Spouse recognized for dedication to military, family

Story by: Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ringold; Photos by: Spc. Daniel Yeadon

3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. — Military members live a life full of many trials and tribulations.  In order to be successful, it takes a strong team effort.  For many Soldiers, part of that teamwork involves their spouses.  During the month of May, those spouses get recognized for the things they do to support their Soldier, unit and community.

On May 12, 2017, the nation will observe Military Spouse Appreciation Day.  There are a lot of hard working spouses that deserve to be recognized, but for the leadership and Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Mrs. Lori Thompson has continued to excel at helping Soldiers since becoming a part of the unit.

Thompson arrived to The Old Guard with her husband, who is part of the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, in February 2016 and immediately became involved with the Family Readiness Group (FRG).

A native of Rochester, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois, both of her parents are in the Army and she accredits that to her unselfish nature.

“I was brought up learning the importance of giving back,” said Thompson.  “I learned to volunteer through church.”

Since marrying her spouse in 2008, Thompson has stayed involved with programs like the FRG and always enjoys helping out anyone she can.

“I have been a FRG leader for the better part of my volunteer time,” explained Thompson. “I am an Army Family Team Building (AFTB) instructor. I help out with battalion events as well as help plan events.

For the past nine years, Thompson has embraced her role as a loving spouse to someone in the military, and all that comes with it.

“To me,” explained Thompson.  “Being a military spouse means being part of the community that becomes your family away from family.”

Looking back on what this day means to so many helps Thompson further put it all in perspective.

“Military Spouse Appreciation Day means that as a military spouse, I do sacrifice,” said Thompson.  “But not as much as my husband. I am the back bone of my family, and without military spouses, the Soldiers wouldn’t have additional support to help them with their careers.”

For her recent efforts, Thompson was recognized by the command team for her continued support of the Soldiers and families of 4th Battalion.

“Lori Thompson has been a tremendous asset to not only CinC Guard, but to the battalion as a whole,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Morgan, 4th Battalion commander.  “We couldn’t do some of the great things we do for our Soldiers and families without her.”

Thompson was also recognized as the Volunteer of the Year in April by the Joint Myer-Henderson Hall command team for her selfless service to the post and surrounding community.

“I feel very honored to be named Volunteer of the Year,” said Thompson.

Even though she has received accolades since she entered the world of being a military spouse, Thompson does not plan on slowing down any time soon.

“I love volunteering and helping is in my nature,” exclaimed Thompson.  “Making an impact on the Soldiers of this unit is my pride and joy. I love helping the best families on earth!”

VOY

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Patrick M. Duggan and Command Sgt. Maj. Carolyn Y. Donaldson present Mrs. Lori Thompson with a Volunteer of the Year award April 16, 2017, in Spates Hall on JBM-HH, Va.   Thompson has continued to excel at helping Soldiers, families and the community since coming to the post. (Photo by Spc. Daniel Yeadon)

Rider proves to be stable of Caisson Platoon

Story by: Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ringold

3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.— For Soldiers from the Caisson Platoon, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), their everyday missions take them through Arlington National Cemetery paying respects to not only those service members no longer with us, but to their Families as well.  Once riders surpass 500 funeral missions, they receive brass spurs.  One rider’s accomplishments were recognized with never-before-seen custom spurs.

Staff Sgt. Steven Taylor, rider, Caisson Platoon, was honored April 27, 2017, during a ceremony at the Caisson Barn on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

During the ceremony, Taylor was presented with a newly custom-made pair of black spurs for accumulating over 1000 funeral missions, a feat not achieved in recent Caisson history, if ever.

“In recorded history that we know of, there has never been a rider to serve in 1,000 funerals,” explained Capt. Austin Hatch, Caisson Platoon leader.  “The closest that we currently have recorded is 576.”

Taylor has been in the Caisson Platoon since April 2, 2014, and this accomplishment just adds to his achievements that have impressed the leadership here since his arrival.

“It’s an amazing show of leadership,” exclaimed Col. Jason T. Garkey, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. commander.  “I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your dedication and professionalism.”

Gaining this prestigious honor is something Taylor didn’t expect but is extremely appreciative of.

“It’s definitely an honor to hit 1000 rides,” said Taylor.  “I’ve seen it as a number before as I marked them down.  Once I saw it was so close, I just kept on going.”

If 1000 rides was achieved prior to his accomplishment, it wasn’t done during one tour.

“There may have been people that have done it before,” said Taylor.   “But they had been here at different times in their careers.  It took me 3 years and 25 days to get 1000 rides.”

After hitting this monumental mark, Taylor will embark on his “last ride” in June, and will then move from Caisson to spend his time as the battalion retention NCO to continue helping Soldiers.

After all he has been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time, the battalion leadership still expects to see him continue to set the bar high.

“If he puts half the passion and dedication he does for us as he does honoring Soldiers and their Families,” said Lt. Col. Jody Shouse, 1st Battalion commander.  “Then it’s a win-win for sergeant major and I.”

Since his time in the platoon is almost complete, Taylor had some advice for fellow riders to get the best out of their time in Caisson, and to ensure repeated mission success.

Shake

Capt. Austin Hatch, Caisson Platoon leader, presents Staff Sgt. Steven Taylor with custom-made black spurs during a ceremony at the Caisson Stable on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., April 27, 2017.  Riders receive brass spurs for finishing 500 funeral missions, but since Taylor was the first to surpass 1000, custom spurs were made for the achievement.a caption

Ride

Staff Sgt. Steven Taylor, Caisson Platoon, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) leads his team to ANC for a memorial affairs mission on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., April 27, 2017.  For his dedicated memorial support, Taylor was presented custom-made black spurs for completing over 1000 funeral missions in his three years as part of The Old Guard.

TUS sentinel used holocaust past to inspire his future

Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – To become a sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, one must be motivated, and dedicated. It takes more than just the ability to stand on guard for long periods of time.

Often times, most Soldiers fail during try-outs rather than succeed, but for Spc. Zachary J. Reznik, Tomb Sentinel, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), He used his past to achieve a goal that started back after World War II.

Reznik’s great grandfather, Johann Reznik and grandfather Bruno Reznik, both were forced to work in Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps.

“In World War II my grandfather, was forced to join the Hitler Youth and worked on a Hitler Youth Farm,” said Reznik.

The Hitler Youth was a youth organization of the Nazi Party in Germany. The organization was a logical extension of Hitler’s belief that the future of Nazi Germany was its children.

“The farm supported German Soldiers in the surrounding area of Beberbeck- Kassel, Germany,” said Reznik.

Reznik’s great grandfather was part of a different concentration camp.

“My great grandfather was forced to work camp in the area of Hofgeismar, Germany, and that’s where most of my family members worked too,” said Reznik. “We weren’t Jewish but because of our Polish-Ukrainian background, we were forced to work in these camps because we also lived in Germany.”

Knowing that his family had to overcome this hardship in life, Reznik used his past to help him achieve what many other strive for.

“My father served 21 years in the Army, and when he graduated from basic training, his dad told him to consider his service a repayment of our family’s debt to the Soldiers who didn’t get to come back, and those who liberated our family and ultimately so he could be born,” said Reznik.

This speech is part of the Reznik family tradition.

“After I enlisted and was stationed in Korea at the time, my dad shared what his dad told him,” said Reznik. “He told me to find the best way possible to repay my country and honor it at the same time.

Reznik’s search began and that’s where he found out about The Old Guard.

“After a lot of researching, I found out that I could become a sentinel,” said Reznik. “There’s no higher honor than to guard the Tomb of the Unknowns.”

Upon arrival, Reznik had to keep his motivation up.

“As a military police I had to work in my unit for at least 6 months before I could try out to become a sentinel,” said Reznik.

Along the way there were signs pointing him in the right direction.

“I would walk around post and see different signs and posters at CIF (Central Issue Facilities) or the post exchange, and those posters kept me focused on my goal,” said Reznik.

After much training and hard work, Reznik has completed phase one of his training and is moving forward to achieving his goal.

“I’m currently in phase two of my training, which focuses on the “attention to detail” things, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m guarding the Unknowns.”

Reznik understands that this would not be possible if it wasn’t for the men that came before him.

“Guarding the Unknowns is the most prestigious way for me to pay back my piece of the debt to my family, and to honor my family and carry on their legacy.”

The Old Guard extends community outreach to Vatican City

Story by: Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ringold

3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)

VATICAN CITY, Italy—Aside from being the face of the Army and the nation’s premiere memorial affairs and ceremonial unit, the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) also participates in community outreach missions around the world.  For Soldiers from one specialty platoon, that mission brought them to the Vatican.

Musicians from The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, embarked on an outreach mission March 12-15, 2017, to Vatican City, Italy, in order to share their knowledge with members of The Swiss Guard.

Being in FDC for 15 years, Master Sgt. J. Mark Reilly, drum group leader, headed the trip with four other members, and further explained the purpose of their visit.

“[We wanted] to steward the military music profession by connecting with the Old Guard’s military musical counterparts around the world,” said Reilly.

Reilly has an extensive background in music and outreach opportunities like this are something he values greatly.

“I have been blessed and fortunate enough to have presented and spoken in several countries on the topics of military music history, drumming techniques, leadership and team building,” said Reilly.

Once the musicians arrived at the Vatican, they worked with the Swiss Guard on some of the traditional fife and drum music like the American classic, “The Connecticut Halftime.”

“Connecticut Halftime” is an interesting drum piece, because it matches really well with a plethora of different fife tunes,” explained Staff Sgt. Kara Loyal, fife player. “Staff Sgt. Barone and I were able to play some very traditional American fife songs, such as “Brandywine” and “The White Cockade,” both of which the FDC have performed in the past.”

As they taught their counterparts American fife and drum music techniques, the musicians would also take the opportunity to learn from the Swiss Guard’s culture as well.

“We were exposed to an exorbitant amount of history,” said Reilly. “The firing and drumming tradition that we celebrate here in the United States is intimately connected to the fife and drum culture of the Swiss and therefore the Swiss Guard. We were shown the Arms Room where suits of armor, weapons and instruments, some of which dates back over 400 years, were held.”

“The most amazing [thing] I learned from the Swiss Guard was the incredible sense of reverence in being a member of their unit,” added Reilly. “It was quite humbling.”

The musicians also got to meet Pope Francis which was an experience all its own.

“A little unreal, actually,” exclaimed Loyal. “After the Mass is when we were able to meet him, and he was so humble and unassuming. He took the time to greet as many people as he could, and the audience was so appreciative.”

After another successful community outreach venture, the musicians are now better able to reflect on the experience.

“The professional development and relationship building that took place during this trip afforded our Soldiers with a unique perspective on the Fife and Drum Corps’ role in American history. Furthermore, highlighting the importance of honoring our national musical heritage.”

Chances like this are something Loyal could have never imagined when she first started out in FDC.

FDC V2

Members from The U.S. Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps take a picture with Pope Francis at St. Peters Square, Rome, March 13, 2017. The musicians were on leave and volunteered to work with the Swiss Guard at the Vatican. (U.S. Army photos by Master Sergeant J. Mark Reilly)

Cockade

Members from The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps present Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church, a TOG Cockade at St. Peter’s Square, Rome, March 13, 2017. The musicians were on leave and volunteered to work with the Swiss Guard. (U.S. Army photos by Master Sergeant J. Mark Reilly)

“When I was growing up as a small fife player, I had no dreams or ideas of the opportunities that music would afford to me,” explained Loyal. “Because of the FDC, the music and other musicians with the same kind of drive, I’ve had some truly unbelievable experiences. I believe this is why it’s so important to continue to pass this music to the next generation.”