Two Former Old Guard Soldiers Recieve Silver Star

gary-birka-and-rick-adlerAlmost 50 years ago, two privates first class in Delta Company, 4th Battalion, 3d U.S Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) were ambushed by a battalion of North Vietnamese. The Soldiers were outnumbered 10-1.

Those men, Rick Adler, from Washington state, and Gary Birka, from Ohio, were awarded the Silver Star on September 30, 2016, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa. Adler and Birka fought valiantly despite being wounded in the battle on August 29, 1969.

The 110 U.S. Soldiers involved were under heavy small arms and motor fire. Only 64 survived.

Adler, according to Army records, set up a perimeter and held his position with a machine gun for several hours. Motor fire wounded Adler, but he continued redistributing ammunition and encouraging the men nearby.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-6-12-11-pmSoon after, Adler was wounded a second and third time and collapsed. Birka, saw Adler in trouble, so he stopped firing his machine gun and rushed into an open area to save his friend.

Birka was struck by motor fire during the rescue, but a camcorder he was carrying in his rucksack shielded him from the explosion and saved his life.

The two men were sent to different hospitals in Japan when they were evacuated and didn’t see each other again for 40 years.

Through social media, the two men were reunited in 2015.

Adler and Birka’s former platoon leader, Tom Pearson, never forgot the gallantry displayed silverstar-1-of-1by these two men. Pearson made it his mission to make sure the two men would be recognized for their actions.

Pearson contacted the U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, and lobbied on their behalf to be awarded for their bravery in action. Johnson serves as the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

The Army finally agreed, and the two men were awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest decoration a Soldier can receive for valor, 47 years after the battle.

 

JBM-HH’s Central Issue Facility has unique perspective​ of Veteran’s Day

cif-62            Veteran’s Day is celebrated every November 11th. It honors those that have served in the United States Armed Forces.

At Joint Base Myer-Henderson-Hall’s Central Issue facility (CIF), a cross section of veterans from every conflict since Vietnam come together to issue the equipment and ceremonial uniforms that are needed to carry out the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiments missions.

This eclectic staff has a unique perspective of Veteran’s Day, since practically every member has served.

Former and current service members come together and have a bond that is hard to replicate which exemplifies the Army’s Soldier for Life standard.

cif-vets-1-of-4            “Its an honor,” said Aleshia R. Billingslea, a former reservist from Long island, NY, who served from 1988-2004 and responded to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center attacks. “We all come together as a team, we’re like a family.”

Supervisor David B. Fertig agrees.

“Being prior service, you get to be apart of a team,” said Fertig, who served from January 1985 to January 2010 and deployed to Iraq three times and once to Afghanistan as a civilian contractor. “It is a real tight group we’ve got here.”

Ramon Ortiz sees a parallel with his prior service and CIF.cif-vets-4-of-4

“I like it a lot, in the military, we had the camaraderie, we worked together as a unit,” said Ortiz. “So this is almost the same thing.”

Cobbler Paul Plaisance sees how the varied perspectives help with problem-solving.

“Everyone has their own point of view,” Plaisance, originally from Louisiana who from 1987-1996 deployed to various theaters including Panama. “Everyone cobbler-16has ideas about things you would never think about, they’d come up with.”

Master Sgt. Ilya Basyuk appreciates how the team convalesces around their shared backgrounds.

“Its amazing, because I feel these veterans that served in Vietnam, Desert Storm, multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, that we’re together in solidarity,” said Basyuk, originally from Kazan, Russia who has served from 2000 to present with a year break in service in 2004. “Some of these veterans have taken off their uniforms, but they are still serving Soldiers in some capacity.”

“Everyday, a veteran should be taken care of,” said Billingslea. “In any kind of way that you can take care of them.”

Priscilla A. Guzman likes how much she is able to learn from her co-workers.

“You get to learn a little bit more about the history of the Army, why they served,” cif-vets-3-of-4continued Guzman served from 1984-1989, and 2005 to present day as a supply technician. “Couple of them served before I did, you get to learn what their experience is and how the Army has changed from when they were in to when I’m in now.”

“The most interesting thing to me is to hear some of the stories, from like Mr. Jones who served in Vietnam,” added Fertig.“The detail that he remembers, I’m the opposite way, I have trouble remembering stuff.”

Elbert W. Jones, a retired Vietnam veteran who served in the Army for 21-years, and works as a supply technician at the CIF.

Jones said there is a huge difference between the quality of equipment he was issued in the 1960’s and what Soldiers are issued today.

The basic sleeping bag is Jones’ prime example.

“For example their sleep system, they have a five piece sleep system,” said Jones. “Most of these old Soldiers know we only got one sleeping bag, a big OD (olive drab) green one.”

“These young men and young ladies here, they are well taken care of,” said Jones. “I’m old school, this is your new model Army and I salute them.”

A record of service is not the only thing many of these veterans have in common. Many had parents that served over three decades in service, some have spouses that are currently serving or have served in the military, and some have children looking to carry on the tradition of military service.

Billingslea’s parents were both career service members. Fertig’s father was in the Navy for 30 years and his wife is currently on active duty. And for supply technician Ortiz, who served from 1988-1994fertigold and 1997-2001, he rejoined active duty with his wife. Ortiz also has a family tradition of military service.

The staff at JBM-HH CIF has a unique perspective of Veteran’s Day.
“I think Veteran’s Day today is different than it was in the past,” added Fertig. “It brings the struggles of the service members a lot more to the forefront… more widespread, mocif-vets-2-of-4re celebrated than it was in the past.”

Guzman said in the past, Soldiers returning from Vietnam didn’t have the same level of community support returning Soldiers have now, so the change over time have been positive.

Basyuk describes Veteran’s Day with empathy for the Soldiers that have served or are still serving. His own experiences being deployed have given the Veteran’s Day Holiday a deeper meaning.

“Its kind of a touchy subject, because some of my friends in the Army have lost their

cif-12lives, and I really appreciate all of those currently serving worldwide,” said Basyuk. “I know how it feels, you are missing your children, your spouses, and you hope someone still remembers you.”

Veterans day means something different for all of these former service members at JBM-HH CIF, but ultimately for the staff, the day is about remembering the sacrifices men and women like that have made the worlilya_iraq03_borderd a better place.

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.

femalecombat

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.”

womencombat

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

ustroopsmarchonmonterrey

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.

battle_of_monterrey

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

PENTAGON ATTACK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Events on television soon became much less removed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flag unfurled on side of pentagon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Old Guard is Honored by American Legion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beeson echoes this sentiment.

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