Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes
This is part 2 of 4 of a news story series
FORT MYER, Va. – While the nation prepares for the 2017 Inauguration in where President-elect Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Presidential Salute Battery (PSB), will have their ‘big guns’ standing by to fire.
Founded in 1953, the PSB salutes in honor of visiting foreign dignitaries, official guests of the United States and for the incoming President of the United States.
“Our number one task is to give the president his first 21-round gun salute”, said Sgt. Jordan Goodman, escort officer for the PSB. “It is the highest honor that we can render to the president.”
Beginning in the colonial period, the United States fired one shot for each state in the Union. This continued until 1841 when it was reduced from 26 to 21. Although it had been in use for more than 30 years, the 21-gun salute was not formally adopted until Aug. 18, 1875.
During the Inauguration, there will be a sequence of events leading up to the 21-gun salute.
First, the team has to get in place and set-up, then wait for certain cues that will be given before the rounds are fired.
“It’s important for each member on our team to know their roles,” said Goodman. “We spend hours of training for mission like these,” continued Goodman.
The battery will use four vintage, 75mm, anti-tank cannons from World War II mounted the M6 howitzer carriage, with a five-man staff and a two-man team for each gun. The staff consists of an officer-in-charge, Sgt. Goodman who initiates the firing commands.
Staff Sgt. Eric Wintzell, the noncommissioned officer in charge, will march the battery into position and control the firing of the backup gun.
“It’s an honor to lead the Soldiers onto the battery for the Inauguration,” said Wintzell. “This is one of the reason I came to the old guard, is so that I could render honors to our president,” continued Wintzell.
Awards, medals and coins can be exciting, but nothing compares to the highest honor in the land.
“There’s nothing higher that an individual can get from the military than the respect that comes with a 21-gun salute,” said Goodman.