Category Archives: News

My first week of ROP training

Story by Sgt. Nicholas Holmes

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.

Old Guard Soldiers prepare for 58th Presidential Inauguration

Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes

This is part 1 of 4 of a news story series

FORT MYER, Va – Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) are ramping up to support President elect Donald Trump’s first Presidential Inauguration.

Traditionally, military units from each of the five branches have marched in the Presidential escort and in the Inaugural Parade. More than 2,000 soldiers from The Old Guard will support this Inauguration.

“Supporting the peaceful transition of government after a presidential election is a historic event and one that many countries do not have,” said Col. Jason Garkey, the regimental commander of the 3d.U.S. Inf. Regt. (TOG). “I have participated in two previous inaugurations (Clinton – 1997 and Bush – 2005) and they both highlighted the unique characteristics of our government and how it brings the nation together.”

Though there will be numerous representatives in this 58th Presidential Inauguration, The Old Guard will play a vital role in this event. Garkey will represents the commander of troops. The Presidential Salute Battery [PSB], Fife and Drum Corps, an honor company, along with the Army Street Cordon will be in full participation.

Military involvement in the Presidential Inauguration is a centuries-old tradition. The U.S. military has participated in this important American tradition since April 30, 1789, when members of the U.S. Army, local militia units and Revolutionary War veterans escorted President George Washington to his first inauguration ceremony at Federal Hall in New York City.

Service members involved in the 2017 Presidential Inauguration represent an integrated Total Force. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guard members proudly serving their country at home and abroad. This support comprises musical units, marching bands, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons, which render appropriate ceremonial honors to the commander in chief.

Just as military men and women show their commitment to this country during deployments and stationed abroad, participation in this traditional event demonstrates the military’s support to the nation’s new commander in chief.

The inauguration will kick off at noon on Jan. 20. The parade will follow immediately after the ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Public entrances to the parade generally open at 6:30 a.m.

Old Guard Trains at NTC

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Soldiers of Delta Company,1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), raise an antenna at the National Training Center [NTC] on Fort Irwin, Calif. The antenna is used for multiple communications across the battlefield. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Klinton Smith)

 Story by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks:

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (Feb. 7, 2014) — Soldiers assigned to Delta Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) returned from a month long deployment at the National Training Center [NTC] on Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 5-6, as part of a joint mission with 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The unit’s aren’t deploying anytime in the near future; however, they are using this exercise to perfect operational procedures and communication between aviation and Soldiers on the ground.

“We’ve learned the absolute importance of establishing standard operating procedures, conducting rehearsals and conducting pre-combat checks and inspections,” said Capt. Travis N. Reinold, commander, D Co. “We trained on what we’ve done over the last 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan by conducting ‘force on force’ engagements against a conventional enemy.”

The unit spent the first few days at NTC getting equipped with the multiple integrated laser engagement system [MILES].

MILES is a training system that provides a realistic battlefield environment for Soldiers and vehicles involved in the training exercise.

D Co. then conducted daily operations with the Stryker Brigade, while also overcoming a few new challenges along the way.

“We learned a lot from our infantry counterparts,” said Reinold. “This NTC rotation was unique for the Army because it marked the first time ever a Stryker Brigade executed a ‘Decisive Action’ rotation.”

These rotations were developed by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to create a common training scenario for use throughout the Army. They are expected to expose troops to today’s threats, coupled with a realistic, challenging environment that mimics 21st century adversaries.

“These challenges seemed daunting, but the competence, professionalism and motivation of all the Soldiers and non-commissioned officers made it possible to succeed,” said Reinold. “I couldn’t be more proud or happy about how far this company has progressed since November.”

Staff Sgt. James Simmons agreed.

“The truth is that everyone has discovered something that they didn’t know before,” said Simmons, a D Co. squad leader. “I got to see my Soldiers do some really great things on a terrain that was an exact replica of Afghanistan, except the mountains are a whole lot higher in Afghanistan.”

“A big take away from this was that we reminded our Soldiers that our main job is to be a proficient infantry unit and work as a team,” he continued.

With the two units having worked together during the rotation, Reinold said he feels they are both well equipped for any mission.

“We learned how to be an effective team and to achieve the maximum desired effects for our training,” said Reinold. “These Soldiers are truly capable of accomplishing anything.”

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A Delta Company Soldier, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), stands guard during a training exercise at the National Training Center [NTC] on Fort Irwin, Calif. The training helped enhance the tactical skills of the Soldiers. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Klinton Smith)

Old Guard Trains For NTC Rotation

Soldiers Train in PA

Old Guard Soldiers create a path through tall grass during a squad live-fire exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4.

Gunfire rang out across the mountainside as Soldiers moved through the woods toward the target area and engaged the simulated enemy.  When the squad cleared the objective and had begun assessing the situation, the platoon leader came over the radio to tell his squad the mission was complete and to regroup on his position.

Although this was only a rehearsal for the Soldiers assigned to Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), this field training exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 2-13., will serve them well in the future.

Capt. Johnathan Green, executive officer, D Co., 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard) said the unit is excited about the exercise because it’s their culminating event prior to a deployment to the National Training Center [NTC] in Fort Irwin, Calif.

D Co. is slated to augment 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa., during their pre-deployment rotation at the training center early next year.

“We are doing a lot of fun things out here that some of our newer Soldiers haven’t necessarily done before to get them and us ready for NTC,” said Green.  “We’ll be going over some of the basics first, and then get progressively harder at each level.”

So far this year, D Co. has also trained at other sites like Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. and Fort A.P. Hill, Va., all in anticipation for the deployment to NTC.

D Co. is slated to augment 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa., during their pre-deployment rotation at the training center early next year.

Junior leaders, like Spc. Nicholas Corby, infantryman, D Co., 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard), began the first few days by calling for artillery support, requesting medical evacuation, and conducting squad-level live-fire drills.

Corby said the two-week long training at Indiantown Gap was a great learning experience on how to lead and control his team to accomplish their mission even in hectic situations.

“We are coached to be proficient in communicating to our guys to ensure they know exactly where they need to be and what they need to do,” said Corby.  “As a leader, making sure we are safe and together is the most important thing out here, especially because we are shooting live rounds.”

Soldiers assigned to D Co., 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and his Soldiers fire a M240B machine gun during a squad live-fire exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Soldiers assigned to D Co., 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and his Soldiers fire a M240B machine gun during a squad live-fire exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

The training D Co. did at Indiantown Gap is difficult to reproduce in the classroom.

“Unless we come out to places like this, we can’t verify that our training is paying off,” said Corby.  “This is definitely getting us ready for NTC.”

After the first three days, the unit went on to conduct platoon- and company-level operations.

Corby said the biggest challenge was the mountainous terrain, frigid temperatures and foreign surroundings; however they easily identified and overcame those issues.

“We weren’t used to walking over the rocks, and it took a little adjusting to get used to the unstable ground,” said Corby.  “The fog and snow is pretty crazy in this area because of the mountains.”

He explained that learning to adapt to different climates was a huge part of the exercise.

Aside from the many challenges, there have been several perks to this training as well.

“We are using the same equipment that we’ll be using at NTC, from communications to maintenance and vehicles,” said Corby.  “Soldiers are working with these systems now to transition smoothly when we get there.”

Green agreed.

“We have prepared to the standard,” said Green. “We will be ready to help 3rd Brigade in whatever way they need us.”

Capt. Wallace Rollins, platoon leader, Delta Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), directs his Soldiers to an objective over the radio during a squad live-fire exercise in the evening hours at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Capt. Wallace Rollins, platoon leader, Delta Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), directs his Soldiers to an objective over the radio during a squad live-fire exercise in the evening hours at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., Dec. 4. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Story by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)

SMA talks policy, Army future with Old Guard

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler III speaks to Old Guard Soldiers at Conmy Hall Dec. 4.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler III speaks to Old Guard Soldiers at Conmy Hall Dec. 4.

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (Dec. 4, 2013) — Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler III, and his wife, Jeanne, visited with service members, Department of Defense civilians and families on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Tuesday.

During his visit, Chandler held an interactive discussion about Army policies, professionalism, and character, and answered a few questions at Conmy Hall. He also addressed major issues facing the Army today like suicide, hazing, and sexual assault.

“The first line in the Creed of the Non-Commissioned Officer says ‘No one is more professional than I,'” said Chandler. “It is one of the most important lines and we need to live up to it.”

He explained that if Soldiers would help one another and keep each other accountable, many of these challenges the Army faces now could be avoided.

Chandler spoke to the crowd about policies that affect all Soldiers; he even talked about individual goals and progression as the Army continues to downsize.

With the ongoing, Army-wide drawdown, promotions are an important topic on Soldiers’ minds, but they can still distinguish themselves in many ways, said Chandler. Gaining a civilian education or going to drill sergeant school or being a recruiter are all ways to take that next step, said Chandler.

At the end of the discussion period, Chandler took time to recognize 12 Soldiers and three DOD civilians for exceptional duty.

Chandler talked about the ongoing Army-wide drawdown, promotions, and other Army topics in a Q-and-A with the Soldiers.

Chandler talked about the ongoing Army-wide drawdown, promotions, and other Army topics in a Q-and-A with the Soldiers.

One of the Soldiers, Spc. Cameron Southhall, an illustrator with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, said the discussion was short but very impactful.

“Everything he said was right on target,” said Southhall. “I am glad to serve my country when I know that our leaders have our best interests in mind.”

Southhall added how approachable and eager Chandler was to share his knowledge.

“He has been in the Army longer than I’ve been alive,” said Southhall. “His experience is really priceless.”

Chandler stayed after for photos before making a trip to the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Seeing these men and women make me proud,” said Chandler. “They are the future of this Army.”

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Public Affairs

Soldiers ruck to fill shelves and hearts

With the onset of the winter months, many shelters across the national capital region will see an increase in people who are looking for a place to go in order to escape the cold. Soldiers of The Old Guard teamed up to ensure that those who are less fortunate would also have a warm meal when they got there.

80 Soldiers assigned to1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carried more than 1300lbs of nonperishable food and supplies from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall [JBM-HH], Va. to the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C. during a road march, Nov. 14.

Capt. Matthew Canada, chaplain, 1st Bn., 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard), gathered the Soldiers together for a few words of encouragement prior to their journey.

Soldiers assigned to1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry more than 1300lbs of nonperishable food and supplies during a road march from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall [JBM-HH], Va. to the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.)

Soldiers assigned to1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry more than 1300lbs of nonperishable food and supplies during a road march from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall [JBM-HH], Va. to the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.)                                                               

“I prayed with them and told them how what they were doing was important,” said Canada. “We wanted to extend a helping hand to fill stomachs and hearts on this trip.”

The Soldiers divided up the food and split into four groups. Spc. Jacob Caughey said it was easy to stay motivated throughout the five-mile march.

“All I could think about was how all the food we were carrying was going to help someone,” said Caughey, infantryman. “I felt great knowing that we were doing this public service.”

Once the Soldiers reached the shelter, Gary Hines, associate director of the Father McKenna Center, said it was exciting to open his door to a sea of Soldiers bearing gifts.

The center serves the physical, mental and spiritual needs of more than 29,000 men, women and children who have fallen on hard times.

“We are getting into our busiest time of the year so it was amazing how they walked from Fort Myer to bring all those packs of food,” said Hines. “They also helped pick-up trash and organized our building. They were great.”

12 of the 80 Soldiers also stayed behind to help serve during the morning meal.

“I know that having green-suitors here would resonate well with the guys,” said Hines. “A lot of them are veterans, and for me, that means a lot.”

Hines added the men at the center aren’t forgotten people and the Soldiers helped them realize that.

Kith Smith, a former service member who is also a frequent guest at the center, said it was really nice to see these Soldiers care for them.

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Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), serve food at the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14. The center serves the physical, mental and spiritual needs of more than 29,000 men, women and children who have fallen on hard times. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.)

“It really made my day,” said Smith. “It made me feel so good on the inside.”

After the shelves were stocked, the food was served, and the building was cleaned, the Soldiers and the guest at the center got a chance to sit down and get to know one another a little better.

“The Soldiers shared pieces of their stories along with their struggles and deployments. It was so encouraging,” said Canada. “I truly believed that’s when we realized that we are more in common.”

Old Guard Soldiers support Feds Feed Families food drive

“I am proud we were able to contribute time and effort for such a good cause.” said Sgt. David Horswell. “As a parent, it is hard to think about children all over this country that go to school and go to sleep hungry.”

Food for Fed

Sgt. Jared Lynch, motor transport operator, 529th Regimental Support Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and Michael Buckley, Department of Homeland Security, load a few large boxes of non-perishable foods on the back of a box truck, Aug. 29, in Arlington, Va. Soldiers assigned to the 529th RCS, 3d U.S. Inf. Reg. (The Old Guard), traveled around the national capital region collecting food in support of the Feds Feed Families food drive. (Courtesy photo)

Soldiers assigned to the 529th Regimental Support Company [RCS], 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), traveled around the National Capital Region, Aug. 29, collecting food in support of the Feds Feed Families food drive.

The annual food drive gathers non-perishable food and supplies throughout the summer months from different government agencies and delivers it to families in need across America.

Since 2009, this food drive has raised more than 15.5 million pounds of food, and with the help from a few Soldiers, they hope to add to that number.

529th RSC motor transport operators, Horswell, Sgt. Jared Lynch, Pfc. Glen Cosey, Pvt. Jermaine Simms, Pvt. Tyler Conners and Pvt. Tyshawn Williams, volunteered to help with the food drive. The six Soldiers split into three teams of two. Each team drove a large truck to various government buildings and collected food to transport to the National Capital Area Food Bank.

Conners said he kept the purpose of the food drive at the forefront of his mind to keep him focused throughout the day.

“It was a long day, but as we traveled around the city, I thought about the families that were going to truly benefit from this food,” said Conners. “I know how great of an impact an operation like this can have on a community. Lives are changed. People realize that we really care about their well-being.”

Conners believes that donating to those less fortunate is an obligation to everyone and not just a select few.

“Everyone can give something,” said Conners. “You can give food, money or just some time.”

Horswell agreed with Conners and said that giving doesn’t always have to be a lot nor does it have to be material.

“The choice is yours on how you can serve others, and that is the beauty of it,” said Horswell.

The Soldiers loaded pallet after pallet, stopping only at the mission’s end. Altogether, they delivered more than 7,300 pounds of donated non-perishable food and supplies. Every two pounds of food will feed a family of four for an entire day.

“We just wanted to take the food immediately to the food bank so it could be given to the families,” said Horswell. “We would thank the agencies for their hard work, and then we roll to the next location. We were working hard to get the job done right.”

Horswell added how rewarding the experience was for him and the Soldiers on his team.

“We all knew this was a big deal, and I hope that other Soldiers will see this as an opportunity to give back,” said Horswell. “It wasn’t an easy job, but it was worth it in the end.”

From the rifle to the mic, drill team musician gives back to wounded warriors

Staff Sgt. Nathan Fair shows off his American pride. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres, Jr.)

Staff Sgt. Nathan Fair shows off his American pride. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres, Jr.)

Staff Sgt. Nathan Fair found comfort in the strings of his guitar during stressful times as an infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I played because it was my way to unwind,” said Fair. “I needed it because I didn’t know if I would make it back from the battles that we were having three and four times a day.”

Fair added that he had played the guitar for about 12 years but not for more than an audience of a couple Soldiers.

“We would sit around a small fire, and I would play for these guys. I could see in their eyes that they really connected with my music. That really gave me confidence,” said Fair, infantryman, U.S. Army Drill Team, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). “They would tell me that I was really good and I should keep going with this.”

The camaraderie between Fair and his fellow battle buddies enabled him to make it through some of the toughest times in war. When he had to deal with the unfortunate circumstance of losing one of them, he turned to his guitar.

“Everyone dealt with in their own way. I started writing music about experiences and hardships that many service members go through after losing someone,” said Fair. “I enjoyed sharing my music with other Soldiers, but I also wanted my music to reach further.”

Fair wasn’t sure where to take his passion for performing after returning home from his deployments. He eventually entered a singer, songwriter contest at the Huske Hardware House in Fayetteville, N.C. in 2011.

“I really didn’t want to go at first, but all my friends told me I should. I just went along with everyone just for fun,” said Fair. “I didn’t think that I would win anything.”

Fair was taken aback when he won first place with his song ‘Fallen Soldier,’ a song he and a friend wrote during a deployment.

“It was absolutely incredible,” said Fair. “From that moment, I started getting offers to open for different groups across the country.”

Fair’s most recent performance, the Country Music Television’s (CMT) Bike Week at the Legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip (LSBC) in South Dakota, showcased dozens of rock/country bands and musicians, vendors and entertainment for more than 700,000 people.

Fair performs at Sturgis. (Courtesy photo)

Fair performs at Sturgis. (Courtesy photo)

“Some call this place the music and motorcycle Mecca because people come from all over to be a part of it,” said Fair.

Fair earned a spot through a referral from Madison Rising, a patriotic rock band who also performed at the event.

“I have opened for those guys many times, so after they got into CMT’s Bike Week, they fought to get me there too,” said Fair. “It was a dream come true to play there.”

Two Navy Seals killed in Benghazi were honored during a memorial ceremony before Fair went on stage.

He said because the crowd was cheering so loud after the ceremony, it made him somewhat nervous.

“My knees were getting weak. It literally scared the crap out of me because prior to this, the most I ever played for was around 6,000 people,” said Fair. “I looked out across the sea of leather, motorcycles and amped-up Americans, and I was just blown away.”

He began to feel something unexpected out on that stage in front of all the listeners; calmness.

“I just began to talk to the audience and all of a sudden I was relaxed. I introduced myself and said I was an active duty Soldier. The crowd just went crazy,” said Fair. “I told them my songs can be downloaded on iTunes and all proceeds go to Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Restore Warrior, and Wounded Wear.”

These non-profit organizations honor and empower severely injured service members by supporting and providing them with resources to fulfill any needs that they may have.

“I can’t say enough about these organizations and what they do for all Soldiers and some of my friends as well,” said Fair. “It is so important that we help these heroes because of their sacrifices.”

Fair’s performance lasted just a few minutes, but he said, it seemed more like an eternity.

“I guess I sang with such passion that I almost don’t remember a whole lot,” he said. “I just remember looking out over the audience and being lost in my words.”

While Fair was performing, he failed to notice the reaction he received from the viewers. Hundreds of thousands of bikers revved their engines as a sign of respect and love for his performance.

“I knew they appreciated my music when I heard that. I can’t put into words what that felt like,” said Fair. “It was really crazy to see that many people in one place listening to me.”

Fair has been through a lot of extreme situations, but nothing was more memorable than this performance.

“I was very honored and humbled to represent my unit and the U.S. Army,” said Fair. “I love the military, this country and everything we stand for.”

Old Guard sweeps MDW Best Warrior Competition

Sgt. Robert Keifer, infantryman, Honor Guard Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), administers a tourniquet to a simulated injured Soldier’s leg during the Military District of Washington’s [MDW] Best Warrior Competition, July 17, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. Keifer outperformed six noncommissioned officers [NCO] to earn the title of the MDW NCO of the year. He will advance to the Department of the Army level this October at Fort Lee, Va. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Sgt. Robert Keifer, infantryman, Honor Guard Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), administers a tourniquet to a simulated injured Soldier’s leg during the Military District of Washington’s [MDW] Best Warrior Competition, July 17, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

 

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks

Two Soldiers assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), swept opposing competition during the 2013 Military District of Washington’s Best Warrior Competition; earning the titles of the MDW noncommissioned officer and Soldier of the year.

“As I stood there waiting, I was pretty nervous until they called my name as the winner,” said Sgt. Robert Keifer, who was named the NCO of the year. “I was excited and proud that all the hard work paid off.”

The competition was held, July 15-19, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

During the competition, seven noncommissioned officers and three Soldiers were tested on basic and advanced warrior tasks and battle drills, day and night land navigation, urban warfare simulations, physical fitness, rifle qualification, a written exam, a ruck march and a board interview.

The competition was no walk in the park according to Keifer, who said it was one of the toughest things he has been a part of.

“I have been in a couple events like this, but at this level, you see the best out here. The key for my success was to keep focus throughout the week,” said Keifer, infantryman, Honor Guard Company. “Not only were we battling against each other, we were battling the heat as well. We had to make sure we ate and stayed hydrated.”

However, with water and other proper safety precautions in place, Soldiers demonstrated their mental and physical skills in temperatures well into the 90s. In the end, only two found themselves on top.

Spc. Michael Sands, infantryman, Delta Company, 1st Bn, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard), assembles four types of weapon systems during the MDW Best Warrior Competition.

Spc. Michael Sands, infantryman, Delta Company, 1st Bn, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard), assembles four types of weapon systems during the MDW Best Warrior Competition.

Spc. Michael Sands, MDW Soldier of the year, was nearly speechless when explaining how it felt to claim one of the coveted spots.

“I can’t put it into words,” said Sands, infantryman, Delta Company. “It’s very special. I felt privileged just to be selected.”

Sands said it was an added bonus wining alongside a fellow Old Guard Soldier.

“It was really rewarding to see both of us win. The Old Guard delivered a one, two punch,” said Sands, “He and I would study as often as possible to make sure we had things memorized. We really worked hard together to get to this point.”

Keifer agreed it was great to win with someone from the same unit.

“It’s like winning with my little brother,” said Keifer. “We have grown really close because of this experience. I am really looking forward to moving on and getting ready for the next competition. I’m glad The Old Guard will be represented at the next level.”

Keifer and Sands will compete in the Department of the Army’s BWC this October at Fort Lee, Va.

Sgt. Robert Keifer (left), infantryman, Honor Guard Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and Spc. Michael Sands, infantryman, Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), tackle a 5-mile road march during the Military District of Washington’s [MDW] Best Warrior Competition [BWC], July 17, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. Keifer and Sands were named the MDW noncommissioned and Soldier of the year. They will represent The Old Guard at the Department of the Army’s BWC later this year. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Keifer (left) and Sands tackle a 5-mile road march during the MDW Best Warrior Competition July 17, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. The two won Best NCO and Best Soldier, and will represent The Old Guard and MDW at the Department of the Army’s BWC in October.

 

Soldiers honor one of their own

Pvt. Brennan Cameron (left), infantryman, H Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), assists former Sgt. Luell L. Woods to his feet during Honor Flight Mississippi, Apr. 23, at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Woods served in H Company during World War II. The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization which transports living veterans to their respective memorials in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Pvt. Kyle Standiford (left), infantryman, H Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), assists former Sgt. Luell L. Woods to his feet during Honor Flight Mississippi, Apr. 23, at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Woods served in H Company during World War II. The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization which transports living veterans to their respective memorials in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Soldiers from H Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) were privileged to meet one of their own, former Sgt. Luell L. Woods, during Honor Flight Mississippi, Apr. 23.

The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization which transports living veterans to their respective memorials in Washington, D.C.

“It can’t be put into words what this experience means to me,” said Woods, who served in World War II while assigned to H Company. “This, right here, has always been a dream of mine, and I consider it a real honor to be here.”

Pvt. Brennan Cameron said he was humbled to meet him.

“It’s not every day that you meet someone who served in World War II and also served in your unit,” said Cameron, infantryman, H Company. “I think it is great that they get this chance to visit their memorial. This landmark is our way of saying how proud we are of them for the enduring standard they set for us.”

Cameron escorted Woods through the crowds gathered at the memorial. From time to time, Woods would ask if they could stop as they reached various sites.

“I remember my good buddies from back then,” said Woods, while he stared at the Freedom Wall full of 400 gold stars.

Each star on the Freedom Wall represents 100 servicemembers killed during World War II. Knowing that one of those stars could have been placed for him, Woods said he does not take for granted the fact that he is able to come to the memorial.

“I am happy to get all this support, but I was one of the fortunate ones who made it back,” said Woods. “I had a feeling that I would make it back. I just knew I had to.”

Woods made sure to also share the same encouraging words and values with the current generation of Soldiers.

“He has such an awesome personality,” said Cameron. “He first thanked us for our service, which made me think I should be thanking him. I saw that he has a love for Soldiers and country. I will never forget that.”

Cameron added how special it was to have a person like Woods affiliated with The Old Guard.

“This unit has such a great legacy, and it’s because of people like Woods. He made me want to continue to serve here,” said Cameron. “No matter the generation, The Old Guard represents the Army to the nation and the world.”

As their time came to an end, the veterans from Mississippi gathered for lunch and fellowship.

“I had a great time with all of the Soldiers from The Old Guard,” said Woods. “Many things have changed over the years, but the bond between Soldiers won’t.”