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), 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 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 there too,” said Reznik. “We wasn’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 considerate 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 not higher honor than to guard 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 in achieving out 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.”

Old Guard Drill Team shines at Joint Service Drill Expo

Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes

FORT MYER, Va. – On a sunny warm day in front of a crowd of hundreds, the U.S. Army Drill Team from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and teams from the other military services, came together to perform during the 2017 Joint Service Drill Exhibition April 8, at the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

The exhibition showcased all five military services drill teams at one place, which is a rare feat in itself.

Preparation for such a major event takes long hours and many repetitive rehearsals, something that’s not new to The Old Guard.

“Leading up to the drill exhibition, we spent three weeks down at Fort Benning, Ga., training and working on a new routine,” said Sgt. Wilfriedo Diaz, team leader with the drill team. “At the end of training we got nothing but positive feedback.”

That positive feedback was on display this past weekend.

“We try to prove to the civilians and the other branches of service drill teams that we are the best and we lead from the front,” added Diaz.

In the past, this exhibition was once a competition to showcase each of the branches drill team, but after the Army continued to win year after year, the powers that be changed the event into an exhibition, said the New York native.

There were a few minor setbacks from all the services drill teams during this year’s performance due to the wind and temperature.

Regardless of the setbacks, the drill teams were persistent and continue to execute each movement with precision and accuracy.

“No matter what happens we continue to try to perfect each move,” said Spc. Eric Neeley, a thrower for the drill team. “There were a few mistakes but I think we did a great job anyway.”

The Soldiers appreciated the cheers and the teams were fueled by the cheers from the crowd.

“We love the fans,” said Neeley. “It’s just really great to see everyone here to support all of the armed services, but especially the Army.”

The U.S Army Drill Team will perform as part of Twilight Tattoo this summer and Spirit of America later in the fall.

The Old Guard, Dream Foundation grant wishes for terminally ill participant

Story by Sgt. Nicholas Holmes

FORT MYER, Va. – Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) escorted Dream Foundation recipient, Brandon Martz and his family, on an intimate tour of the installation April 4, 2017 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

“This event was for the Dream Foundation and served to make Brandon Martz’s dream of visiting Washington D.C. and the Arlington National Cemetery come true,” said Maj. Mike Erlandson, executive officer and tour escort with 3d U.S. Inft. Regt.

The Dream Foundation provides end-of-life dreams to terminally-ill adults and their families.

In 2002, then 4 year old, Martz was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal genetic disorder which results in progressive loss of strength. He was given the prognosis of ten years to live.

“My dream was to go to Washington D.C. over my senior year spring break with my family,” said Martz. “I want to be able to go to the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the White House.”

Martz, a Rives Junction, Michigan, native and now 18 years old, was selected by the Dream Foundation to have his dream come true after sharing his story in a letter.

His first stop at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Martz participated in an Army Full Honors Wreath laying Ceremony. Martz and his family, viewed the changing of the guard from a restricted area which provided them with prime viewing.

“[Arlington National Cemetery] is a place of great respect and it was phenomenal to see him lay the wreath,” said Doug Martz, Brandon’s father. “That is something that most people don’t have an opportunity to do, and now he is part of the history here.”

Second on the tour, Martz and his family visited the Caisson Stables. While there, they fed and interacted with the horses while learning the mission of the Caisson Platoon, the stables historical significance and daily commitment to the care of the horses.

Martz and his father agreed that under different circumstances, the military would have been a career he would have likely pursued.

“I believe he would have followed a path into the military,” added Doug Martz. “It’s a passion he has always had.”

“If I did not have DMD I would have joined the military after I graduate,” said Martz. “I had a recruiter call the house the other day, and it was so hard to tell him I was now in a wheelchair. He was nice, but we both knew that was the end of the conversation.”

The tour concluded at Summerall Field, where the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps conducted a musical demonstration for the Martz family.

Following the demonstration, Col. Jason Garkey, Regimental Commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, discussed the important relationship and responsibilities the military has to the people. Afterwards they both presented Martz tokens of appreciation on behalf of The Old Guard to reinforce how honored the regiment was to be included in his request to the Dream Foundation.

This was the first time this year that every commander from the specialty platoons attend a tour of this magnitude. Outreach is a vital part of the regiments goal.

“It has been a great day,” said Brandon’s father. “It has been more of an emotional day then I expected.”

Both the family and Soldiers enjoyed the events of the day.

“This was by far the most rewarding tour I have participated in,” Erlandson said. “The entire organization put their best foot forward to honor this young man.”

 

The Old Guard first infantry female NCO pioneers the way ahead

Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes

FORT MYER, Va – Movies like “Saving Private Ryan”, “Full Metal Jacket” and “Blackhawk Down”, were just some of her favorites to watch as a young child. While most eleven-year –old girls were hanging out with their friends or getting new toys, Sgt. Brittany Sylvester-Rivera, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), was fascinated by the idea of infantrymen pushing forward on the battlefield and protecting her country.

“I grew up watching military movies, and after watching “Saving Private Ryan”, I told my mother that’s what I wanted to grow up and do,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

Like most mothers, she told her to wait. While she waited until she was of age to join the military, her passion to become what see saw in those movies continued to grow.

“Our country has given us so much, people have sacrificed their lives and you don’t want to look back years from now and say ‘we never honored them’ that’s the reason why I wanted to become an infantryman,” said the Houston native.

Her journey into becoming what she saw in those movies, wasn’t possible when she first joined in 2009.

“I went into the recruiter station and told them that I wanted to be and infantryman, and of course the denied me,” said Sylvester-Rivera. “So they told me that the closet thing I could get to being infantry was to become 25U [Signal Support Systems specialist] because I could be on the battlefield with infantrymen so I said yes.”

Her fortune changed in December 2015 when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that women could serve in combat military occupational specialty.

“As soon as I heard this I went and talked to my career counselor, and he told me that I wasn’t eligible to reenlist yet, so I had to continue to wait,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

It wasn’t until August 2016, when Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Dan Dailey, wrote a memo asking for female soldiers to transfer to combat arms jobs.

“As soon as I read that memo, I ran back to my career counselors’ office to see if he had seen this memo,” said Sylvester-Rivera. “He said told me he had just read it and he knew I would come see him.”

The process started for her to re-classify into her lifelong dream had started, but it had many hurdles it had to first get past.

“I had to sit down and talk to my company commander, then all the way up to the regimental commander. They wanted to see if I was mentally and physically ready for this new challenge, and to see if really I wanted to do this,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

After they saw my passion and determination about becoming an infantryman, my leadership had no doubts that I would go to school and be successful, added Sylvester-Rivera.

Training

“The first day I got there and walked into my quarters to sign in, the NCO on duty asked me, “are you lost,” chuckled Sylvester-Rivera. “I informed him that I was there to become an 11 bravo.”

With a confused look on the face of the NCO on duty, he finally realized who I was and that’s how my first day started, added Sylvester-Rivera.

Sylvester-Rivera knew she had to prove herself to become ‘one of the guys’ her first opportunity came during the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). “I scored a 300 points on my PT test and I finished my five-mile assessment run in less than 36 minutes,” said Sylvester-Rivera. “I think after those events, I prove to everybody that I really wanted to be there and to achieve my goal.

There were some obvious differences between a signal Soldier and an infantryman’s training.

“We were taught and trained much different from the regular Army. I learned how to do 50-meter dry fires, that was something I never experienced,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

She had to go back and relearn some of the basics.

“The way I used to low crawl is now considered high crawling,” laughed Sylvester-Rivera. “It took some time to get used to it, but I was able to adapt.”

When a Soldier has the title of ‘first’ in anything pertaining to the Army, the extra amount of pressure could cause some doubt.

“I believe if you’re going to shoot for the stars you need to be fully prepared to make it and not fail,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

Graduation Day

After completing each and every task along the way, Sylvester-Rivera was ready to be turned blue.

“My drill sergeants said out of the four females that were reclassing, that I was ‘the one’ who deserved this the most,” said Sylvester-Rivera. “I was honored to consider that great in their eyes.”

‘Turning Blue’ is a ceremony where newly qualified infantrymen receive their Infantry Blue Cords 16 weeks of One Station Unit Training (OSUT).
The Future

Though Sylvester-Rivera has graduated the real work now begins.
“I want to teach my Soldiers and groom them for the future. I want to show them that along the way nothing is ever given to you have to work hard for whatever you want to achieve in life,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

Her first step at mentoring Soldiers will come once she PCS’s (permanent change of station) to Fort Bragg, North Carolina this summer.

“I want to get an opportunity to have my own firing team, deploy as an infantryman and to develop the next set of great infantrymen that will follow after me,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

Regardless of the past and what is to come, Sylvester-Rivera knows how to make it through every test.

“Being humbled and continuing to learn everything that I can so that I can train up someone like me along the way,” said Sylvester-Rivera.

An Old Guard dual-military love story

Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes

FORT MYER, Va. – Love can be defined by people as many different things. Webster’s dictionary describes love as an intense feeling of deep affection. Some people believe love is not quantified by words, but rather a person’s actions that prove how much you love someone or something. This can be true when talking about the Bond Family.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bond, a native of Mansfield, Ohio, is a multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer and his wife, Sgt. Alexandria Bond, from Hopkins, South Carolina, is a signal support systems specialist.

They met for the first time back in 2013 when his privately owned vehicle died on the side of the road.

“My motorcycle broke down, it ran out of gas, chuckled Robert Bond. “It was one of those old bikes that didn’t have a fuel gauge so I had to call somebody back at my unit to come help me out, and it wound up being her,” added Robert Bond.

She wasn’t too happy about having to help out this new Soldier.

“At that time I felt like he was bothering me,” laughed Alexandria Bond. “I had so many other tasks to take care of, but I was like ‘whatever’ I’ll go help this guy,“ said Alexandria Bond.

Shortly after the incident Robert Bond asked her on a date.

“I was wondering why he didn’t ask someone else,” said Alexandria Bond. “He set me up,” she continued.

The two of them went out on a friendly date, at least that’s what she thought.

“I thought we were going out as friends, so I showed up looking terrible and he was all dressed up,” said Alexandria Bond. “So he decided to go back home and change, and we went out looking terrible together,” laughed Alexandria Bond.

The two of them dated for more than a year before getting married in January 2014.

Since then, the Bonds have experienced deployments, a new born baby boy and a permanent change of station.

“We deployed at the same time to, two different places,” said Robert Bond. “We just had our son [Robert Alexander Bond] so he had to go with his aunt while both of his parents were deployed,“ explained Robert Bond.

The couple experienced some of the many challenges that dual-military couples face while separated from each other.

“The hardest thing for me was not being able to talk to my husband and my son at the same time,” said Alexandria Bond.

The Bonds had a strong Family network that helped the two through the deployment.

“Every time things got rough we talked to our parents, they gave us sound advice,” said Robert Bond. “Another thing we did was keep a journal of what happened during the times we didn’t talk as well as how we felt about other things going on or each other. Writing everything down helped us keep our thoughts alive, “continued Robert Bond.

After returning from deployment the couple soon got orders to the 3d U.S.Infantry Regiment “The Old Guard.”

“We felt like coming to The Old Guard would be best for us as a Family and for career progression,” said Alexandria Bond.

The Bonds achieved a rare accomplishment for a dual military married couple by getting promoted in the same month.

“It’s a huge accomplishment to get promoted no matter who you are, but to be able to share the moment and date with my wife is incredible,” said Robert Bond.

His better half was also equally excited.

“I couldn’t believe we made it on the same day,” said Alexandria Bond. “I was so happy for him I couldn’t stop crying,” continued Alexandria Bond.

Through motorcycle breakdowns, first dates, deployments and promotions, the Bonds love for each other has never wavered.

ball_86-2“It’s a challenge but I wouldn’t trade her or the Army for anything in the world,” said Robert Bond, and they both looked at each other and smiled.

Old Guard Soldiers lend support during inauguration

By Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ringold The Old Guard Public Affairs Office

Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) joined service members from around the Department of Defense and various civil services in support of the 58th Presidential Inauguration Jan. 20.

After months of preparation, The Old Guard continued its long standing tradition of ceremonial support using elements from The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” The Fife and Drum Corps, Caisson, Continental Color Guard, Presidential Salute Battery and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, to commemorate the 45th President of the United States.

In a regiment of approximately 1,700 Soldiers, most of whom had a role in the inauguration, both first time participants and seasoned veterans walked away with lasting impressions and experiences from the event.

The Old Guard commander, Col. Jason T. Garkey, previously participated during the 1997 and 2005 Presidential Inaugurations, but this third one brought a different aspect to it.

“This was the first inauguration I participated in that involved a change of the administration,” explained Garkey. “The magnitude of the operation was immense. In previous inaugurations, I participated in specific parts, but as the regimental commander responsible for JTF [Joint Task Force] Ceremony, I had visibility on every detail involving the regiment.”

Looking back on the task and effort that went into it to make it a success is something Garkey said he appreciated.

“The complexity and amount of detail developed into the plan was extremely impressive,” said Garkey. “The seamless integration of our ceremonial and contingency tasks capitalized on every aspect of the regiment. It validated everything we have worked towards since this past summer.”

Chicago native Spc. Tabari Sibby, Company Honor Guard, 4th Battalion, 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), was part of the cordon for the departure of former President Barack Obama at Joint Base Andrews, Md., and it is a moment he will not soon forget after seeing his final wave.

“The experience was very honorable for me and my colleagues,” said Sibby. “I feel very honored that I was a part of the 58th [Presidential] Inauguration.”

At 22 years old and with less than a year in the military, Pfc. Austin Wolf, Company E, 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), said he was in awe of all the events that transpired, but he will always remember what he did as part of the White House cordon.

 “As a ceremonial unit, this was the biggest event we have the honor to participate in,” said Wolf. “Opening the door for POTUS [President of the United States] was the honor of a lifetime and something that I will never forget.”
With the regiment having provided not only musical and ceremonial support for the inauguration itself, but also logistical and force protection efforts that spread throughout the National Capital Region, there is more than just the outcome of the ceremony for Soldiers and leaders to be excited about.
caisson

U.S. Soldiers assigned to the Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), march down Pennsylvania Avenue during the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C., January 20, 2017. The Parade was held to celebrate the inauguration of 45th President of the United States President Donald Trump. (Photo by Sgt. George Huley)

U.S. Soldiers assigned to the Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), march down Pennsylvania Avenue during the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C., January 20, 2017. The Parade was held to celebrate the inauguration of 45th President of the United States President Donald Trump. (Photo by Sgt. George Huley)

 

 

inauguration_25

Members of The United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” play in front of the President’s reviewing stand along Pennsylvania Avenue during the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. During the 58th Presidential Inaugural Parade, Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) continued their long standing tradition of ceremonial support using elements from the Presidential Salute Battery, the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Caisson platoon, Honor Guard Company, and the Color Guard to commemorate the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ringold)

“Inaugurations are historical events and important for our nation to ensure the president publicly swears his oath to the Constitution,” said Garkey.

“Our Soldiers’ contributions to the inauguration permeate through multiple aspects of the event and extend far beyond the parade. Regardless of their roles, ceremonial, support or contingency, this inauguration was successful because of their contributions.

“Everyone played a part, and the synchronization of those parts culminating on January 20 made history.”