The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the premier ceremonial unit in the Army, has several incredibly unique assignments within its ranks that can be found nowhere else. One of these jobs, is hiring.
The job requires a soldier who, for the most part, will never be seen. This solider will, however, be noticed by everyone.
The Voice of The Old Guard is a special assignment in The Old Guard that seeks volunteers to perform the announcements at high profile events and ceremonies. The auditions were held over two days at Conmy Hall on February 23 and 24, 2016.
“Voice of the Old Guard always sounded like a great thing to do,” said Voice hopeful Pfc. Justin D. Vinge of Charlie Company. “Whenever you are out there on the marks and hear the voice it always seemed like a great opportunity.”
Sgt. Matthew R. Harp is the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Voice(s) of the Old Guard and ran the auditions. Three things are pivotal: the soldier must read well, have a good voice, and most importantly be a responsible soldier, he said.
“Trying to find those three qualities can be complicated at times,” said Harp. “This is a very different job from most areas of the Army, “
Harp said Soliders must be motivated and trustworthy since this job will have them in front of some of the most powerful people in the United States’ Military and Government.
Harp is an infantryman that volunteered for the assignment two years ago and had no prior announcing experience, he said.
Harp said he has performed at several Presidential missions, for foreign heads of state, and the retirement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
During their busiest time of year, Voices can be doing announcements at five events a day, said Harp.
“The busy time of year is between Memorial Day and the Army Birthday,” said Harp. “We get slammed with missions, its non-stop.”
Many times their missions take place on nights and weekends, said Harp. Missions will take place all over the National Capital Region and in some cases even across the country, said Harp.
Cpt. Matthew A. DeWaegeneer the current 1st Battalion S-1/Adjutant, stopped by the audition to observe the hopefuls and see how things were going with his old assignment.
The current announcers have heard of DeWaegeneer.
DeWaegeneer did roughly 650 ceremonies while he was Voice of The Old Guard. During his tenure, DeWaegeneer was requested by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston.
Previously enlisted, DeWaegeneer was recruited to be a Voice of The Old Guard straight out of Advanced Individual Training at nearby Ft. George G. Meade in May 2005.
Before coming to The Old Guard, DeWaegeneer had prior experience as a radio announcer in Houston.
The Voice of the Old Guard allowed DeWaegeneer to perform in some very high profile events, he said.
Some of the most memorable were when he did the announcements for the U.S. Army Drill Team in Madison Square Garden. DeWaegeneer was also selected to announce “Gentleman, Start your Engines!” at the 50th Anniversary of the Daytona 500, he said.
The most meaningful performance for DeWaegeneer took place on September 11, 2008, when he performed at the opening of the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.
“Myself and an Air Force Master Sergeant alternated, “DeWaegeneer said. “We read all the names of all the victims.”
Both Harp and DeWaegeneer said the Voice of the Old Guard requires some nuance in their performance.
“Certain events need a certain demeanor or certain voice. Pentagon Memorial, very somber. I was very deliberate and slow in my delivery,” said DeWaegeneer. “A Drill Team performance, its entertaining, its fun. I always said it’s the monster truck announcing.”
The Voice of the Old Guard is a position that requires excellentce.
“You are still part of a tradition. Just like the Tomb Guards or Cassion, that has people change out, the standards are still the same,” said DeWaegeneer. “Its an even smaller group inside of The Old Guard.”
Vinge hopes to be apart of that lasting tradition.
“It would mean you are in every ceremony, everything The Old Guard participates in,” said Vinge. “I would help with that image, by being the voice that projects it all. “