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Soldiers, Marines bond during 4th annual Urban Warrior Challenge

Story by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and Marines from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall competed against each other during the fourth annual Urban Warrior Challenge on June 22.

“Today we have the Soldiers of The Old Guard and Marines of Henderson Hall here to compete in a series of events,” said Cpt. Joseph Hicks, officer in charge of the event with The Old Guard. “We are doing this event to build the camaraderie between the two organizations.”

Following the opening ceremony speech, Soldiers and Marines in 10-man teams, competed against each other in a series of events, starting with a 250-yard swim at Zembiec Pool.

After completing the swim, each team ran one mile and competed in a 400 push-up challenge event.

During push-up event, members from each team alternated turns executing as many consecutive push-ups as possible until the teams completed a total of 400 push-ups. Additionally, participants were required to lift a 40-pound ammunition can above their heads 30 times before the next team member could start.

After this event, teams then moved to the litter-run portion of the competition. During this event, teams carried two 40-pound ammunition cans and transported a team member on a litter more than half a mile to the next event.

“The litter carry was the most difficult,” said Sgt. William Payne, a healthcare specialist with 529th Regimental Support Company. “It was hard because we had to work with individuals with different heights and fitness abilities to accomplish a common task, plus it was pretty hot out here today.”

The final event was the 80-yard High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle pull. Each team pulled the 5,900-pound vehicle as fast as they could across the finish line using rope attached to the front of the vehicle.

Throughout the day, other teams of Soldiers and Marines competed in open events, which included basketball, dodge ball, volleyball and bowling.

During lunch Soldiers, Marines and family members dined together while watching a military working dog demonstration conducted by Soldiers from the 947th Military Police Detachment, with 289th Military Police Company.

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and the U.S. Army Drill team also preformed for the attendees.

The final event of the day was a tug-of-war challenge, between the Soldiers and the Marines. The Soldiers came out victorious for the second consecutive year.

However, the entire day was a win for both branches.

“Today was great,” said Payne. “We don’t get to interact with the Marines very often. It was great to get us all together for some friendly completion.”

The event also increased esprit de corp among the service members, according to Hicks.

“I think that today’s event went exceptionally well,” said Hicks. “It was great that everyone had the chance to come out in a less formal setting and bond with other organizations. I saw great participation across the board. I want to thank everyone for all of the support that went into making today a success.”

Twilight Tattoo honors the U.S Army’s 242nd Birthday

Story by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), conduct a Twilight Tattoo performance at Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer Henderson-Hall, Va., on June 14, 2017.

Twilight Tattoo is a one-hour patriotic journey that captures 242 years of Soldiers’ stories spanning across generations of men and women who have answered the call to uphold America’s freedom and democracy.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, 39th Chief of Staff of the Army, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey and Robert M. Speer, Acting United States Secretary of the Army hosted the special performance which commemorated the 242nd birthday of the Army.

“On 14 June 1775, a company of Pennsylvania riflemen got together while George Washington and a bunch of militia from the New England states were battling the British in and around Boston, and that formed the nucleus of what was the Continental Army and soon became the United States Army,” said Milley. “From that birth until today, for 242 years, the United States Army has stood proud, shoulder to shoulder, with our brothers and sisters in the Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard in defending our liberties and freedoms.”

The date also marks the 100th year anniversary of World War I.

Prior to the performance, Milley and Speer presented Byron Derringer, a descendent of Cpt. James E. Miller, a WWI Soldier, with the Distinguished Flying Cross award for actions taken in the skies above Corberry and Barrieux, France on March 9, 1918.

During WWI, Miller was one of the individuals who assisted in the forming of the Army Air Corps.

“We have a privilege today to be able to recognize not only the heraldry of our total 242 years but also that point and time, where we recognize, late, a Distinguished Flying Cross for an American hero,” said Speer. “We’re very proud today to have some of the descendants here from James Miller’s family here and able to represent him and a lineage of what he achieved on those battlefields as the first individual who gave his life in that war in aviation.”

It was a spectacular moment and Derringer and his family were honored to be in attendance, said Derringer

Also during this event, Milley administered the oath of enlistment to 35 young men and women who joined the ranks of the U.S. Army, Army Reserves and Army National Guard during a future Soldier swearing-in ceremony.

“We’re the only country that takes an oath to an idea,” said Milley, before administering the oath. “An idea that’s embedded within a document called the constitution not too far from here. That idea is incredibly powerful. It’s an idea for which those of us in uniform are sworn to protect and defend, even at the cost of our life. That is the oath they are about to take.”

The future Soldiers were excited to begin training and honored to be part of such a significant day.

“I leave on Tuesday and I am very excited,” said Brittany S. Miller, a Chesapeake Beach, Maryland native and future Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Specialists. “It is an honor to be a part of all of all this tonight.”

This is really big, and I’m glad to be a part of this,” said Tate Perusse, a Lexington Park, Maryland native. “Not a lot of people get the opportunity to be sworn in by the chief of staff. I’m glad I get the chance.”

Twilight Tattoo weekly performances will run through Wednesday, Aug. 9, with exceptions on July 5 and July 12, when there will be no Twilight Tattoo scheduled. The performance is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.twilight.mdw.army.mil

Old Guard lays former regimental commander to rest

Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Former regimental commander, retired Col. Stanley G. Bonta, was laid to rest on at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., June 9, 2017.

Bonta was the 63rd commander of The Old Guard from 1979-1982, and received a Special Full Honor Funeral for his service. Bonta passed away December 28, 2016.

The regiment’s chaplain, Maj. John E. Scott, reminded Bonta’s loved ones of his sacrifices.

“These sacred grounds stand as a lasting tribute to the men and women who have faithfully served our nation,” said Scott. “No place in Arlington National Cemetery can be purchased, each must be earned.”

Bonta not only earned his place in ANC, but he was inducted as a Distinguished Members of The Regiment (DMOR) in 1998.

Bonta’s legacy will forever live on.

“He answered the nations call and served with honor,” said Scott.

“Let us remember him for his love for his family, his country, his Army and Kentucky Wildcats basketball.”

Survivors of Bonta include his sons, Steve and Scott Bonta and his sister Frances Justice.

TOG Soldier strengthen relationship with local elementary

 

Story by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes

JOINT BASE MYER – HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Students from Westridge Elementary School sat patiently in the grass as they wait for the show to begin. They cheered as the performers made their way to the center of the field.

Soldiers with the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and the U.S. Army Drill Team, performed for students, faculty and parents at Westridge Elementary School, in Woodbridge, Virginia, on June 9, 2017.

“Here at Westridge, we are about 35 percent military,” said Tina Fox, a member of the Parent and Teacher Alliances, PTA, and one of the coordinators of the event. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to show appreciation to our military families and celebrate the end of the school year.”

The day began with a performance from The Old Guard’s Fife and Drum Corps, (FDC).

During the performance, the musicians also shared the historical importance the FDC played on the battlefield and highlighted the role music continues to play in today’s military.

Next, the U.S. Army Drill Team performed.

“Anytime you get to see Soldiers swinging rifles with shiny bayonets attached to them you are in for an exciting show,” said Fox. “Judging from all of the kids’ reactions I think it’s safe to say they were very impressed.”

“The performances were great,” said Victoria Wolsort, a U.S Air Force Veteran and an art teacher at the school. “It was great to see the students connect lessons we have taught thorough out the year with performances they saw today.”

Following each of the performances Soldiers answered questions from the crowd and posed for photographs with the students.

Fox, the master of ceremony, feels it is essential to foster relationships between schools and the military.

“Events like this are important,” said Fox. “They offer the public a different view of the military and different roles the military has in our community.”

The event was successful and both students and volunteers expressed their appreciation for the Soldiers presence.

“Today has been great,” said Sara Case the president of the Westridge PTA. “The performances from [The Old Guard] was a great way for us to close out the year and celebrate all of the hard work the students have done. Events like this help to develop our children into well-rounded individuals.”

“The Soldiers with the [weapons] were my favorite part,” said Caleb Barsdale, a fourth grade student at Westridge. “They were really cool!”

“It was great to come out and see these outstanding Soldiers perform,” said retired 1st Sgt. Charlie Barsdale. “With all of my time in the military I never got the chance to learn how to do anything like that.”

Barsdale and his wife Mattie, traveled from Richmond, Virginia to accompany their grandchildren to the presentation. After seeing the Soldiers perform, the couple said they are excited to see them perform again at Twilight Tattoo.

Twilight Tattoo is a free, live-action military performance that offers viewers a glimpse into American’s history. The Soldiers perform every Wednesday evening at 6:30 P.M. at Summerall Field at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

Fathers, daughters spend a special evening together

Story by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – The sound of pop music can be heard playing as you approach the entrance to the JBM-HH Community Center.

Pink roses and balloons surround the designated dance floor, where fathers, dressed in their Army Service Uniforms, were dancing with their elegantly dressed daughters.

Fathers from the 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and their daughters attended a Father Daughter Dance on June 3, 2017, at the community center on Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall, Virginia.

The event was sponsored by the unit’s Family Readiness Group (FRG).

“We had talked about this for a while,” said Michelle Morgan, an advisor with the FRG. “We wanted to have a special time designated for fathers and daughters to make lasting memories.”

During the event, the battalion’s fathers and daughters danced, snacked and socialized with other attendees.

“Unfortunately, because of our careers we can’t always be there,” said First Sgt. John Walker, with the 289th Military Police Company. “It’s great to have this time set aside to make memories that will last for a lifetime.”

“This is the first time we have participated in something like this and it’s great,” said Sgt. Edward Span, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company. “It was great to have this time to show these little ones how much we appreciate them.”

The Father Daughter Dance went off without a hitch.

“The event was wonderful,” said Morgan. “We had many families interested in attending and the turnout was great.”

In the future the battalion plans to host more events like this.

“There has been a great interest in doing more events like this,” said Morgan. “We would like to do something for mothers and sons in the near future.”

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Fathers from the 4th battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) his daughter while dancing during a Father Daughter Dance on June 3, 2017 at the Fort Myer Community Center on Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall, Virginia. The event was sponsored by the unit’s Family Readiness Group. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes/ Released)

My final week of ROP

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New Soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participate in marching rifle manual positions, May 4, 2017 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. This is part of the Regimental Orientation Program, a three week hands-on-developmental training for new Old Guard Soldiers. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes)

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 program for Soldiers new to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

After successfully completing week two of ROP on my second attempt, I made it to my final week of ROP.

“The purpose of week three is to train new Old Guard Soldiers so they are proficient with the marching rifle manual positions before going to their companies,” said Spc. Matthew Gibbs, a week three instructor.

In order to complete the final week of ROP, we were required to pass an Army Service Uniform inspection, complete a 75-minute stand and properly execute all marching rifle manual commands.

Like in previous weeks, the 75-minute stand would require us to move from the position of attention and parade rest as the instructors reviewed our uniforms.

During the evaluation, instructors assessed our ability to execute each command called by the proctor as we marched.

The commands required us to move our rifles to various positions, as well as change direction of movement.

We needed to complete the evaluation without any major mistakes and no more than three minor mistakes.

“The strategy for this week is outcome based training,” said Gibbs. “We start from square one and work up from there until Soldiers are proficient enough to test.”

The first day of training focused on marching without rifles. The instructors reviewed the marching commands and demonstrated how to properly execute them to The Old Guard standards.

The Old Guard has a distinctively different standard for marching that differs from what Soldiers are accustomed to, said Gibbs.

This can cause an issue for Soldiers new to The Old Guard, said Gibbs.

“It’s just because it is new for them,” continued Gibbs. “It just takes time and practice to break those habits and get them use to Old Guard standards.”

Initially the change was difficult for me, executing commands to this standard felt unnatural.

On the second day, the instructors began to incorporate our rifles, while marching around for hours.

The rest of the week we continued to march around the installation as the instructors critiqued us.

We did an exercise that required us to march in a circle on a curb while moving the rifle from our left and right shoulder.

At first it was difficult to keep my balance while making the movements, but toward the end of the exercise I was doing much better.

I was confident about my progress this week.

The morning of the test I felt I would do well. I had learned a lot, but I was ready to return to my company and focus on upcoming missions.

With my uniform freshly pressed and my medals shined, I was ready to start my 75-minute stand.

I was not concerned about being able to complete the 75-minute stand, however I was not looking forward to it.

After passing this portion of the evaluation, we were given time to review the marching rifle manual evaluation. This was all that was between me and graduating from ROP. Each Soldier would march individually during the evaluation.

I was the first Soldier to be evaluated. Unlike my first attempt at the stationary rifle manual evaluation during week two, I was not nervous at all.

The evaluation went much faster than I was expected. I passed the evaluation without a mistake.

I was excited to be done with ROP and looked forward to graduation where I will receive my Buff Strap. My experience in ROP was a privilege and I am honored to have earned the right to say “I am an Old Guard Soldier.”

Old Guard honors fallen with “Flags-In” tradition

Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes

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Soldiers assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), participate in “Flags-In” at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 25, 2017. During “Flags-In” The Old Guard honors America’s fallen heroes by placing an American flag at each gravesite for service members buried in ANC. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

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Members of 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place American flags at gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 25, 2017.More than 280,000 American flags are placed at each headstone in ANC before Memorial Day. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

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Members of 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place American flags at gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 25, 2017.More than 280,000 American flags are placed at each headstone in ANC before Memorial Day. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – On a cloudy and rainy day at Arlington National Cemetery, Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), honored the nation’s fallen heroes in an Old Guard tradition, known as “Flags-In,” May 25, 2017.

For more than 60 years, Old Guard Soldiers have placed flags at gravesites for service members buried in ANC the week prior to Memorial Day weekend.

Every available Soldier in The Old Guard (TOG) participates, which is not a task but an honor.

“We are here to serve those who came before us, this is one of the highest honors we can give back to our fallen,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt.

It is an honor that dates back to 1864, when ANC was first established. More than 280,000 American flags were placed at each headstone in ANC.

“We are doing this for the families that can’t be here today, and for those that came before us,” said Col. Jason T. Garkey, commander, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt.

The Soldiers had an opportunity to remember love ones that have served their country with honor.

“I have a list of graves that I’m going to visit, that are friends of mine and others that people have asked me to take care of their love ones, this is truly and honor,” added Garkey.

Though there are many first-timers within the ranks, most Soldiers have participated in Flags-In on multiple occasions.

“This is my second year participating in Flags-In,” said Sgt. Lougene Troupe, a cable systems installer, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. “The first time I did this I was anxious and nervous but this time around, I feel more joy and happiness, by simply serving my country.”

In less than four hours, The Old Guard Soldiers placed flags at more than 400,000 gravesites. Though that’s rather quick, this time-honored tradition will never be forgotten.

“Here at Arlington National Cemetery they’re not just Soldiers but America’s heroes,” said 1st Sgt. Jason R. Taylor, Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. “Their sacrifice, will not go unforgotten.”

For more information about Flags-In, visit Arlington National Cemetery’s website at http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil