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

Old Guard Soldiers met Washington Redskins players

Story by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes

JOINT BASE MYER – HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participated in the Washington Redskins Salute to Service Day, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park on May 24, 2017 in Ashburn, Virginia.

Redskins Salute is the official military appreciation club of the football team.

Salute to Service Day recognized approximately 150 active duty service members and veterans at the exclusive event presented by United Services Automobile Association, USAA.

“Events like this are extremely important,” said Ronney Wright, a military affairs representative from USAA. “We are here today to honor show our appreciation to these military men and women.”

The event started with a Chalk Talk session lead by Redskins alumni Richard “Doc” Walker, former tight end.

Walker, now a radio sports commentator, answered questions and discussed the importance of staying driven.

“He was a very motivating speaker,” said Pfc. Monaisia Young, a unit supply specialist with TOG. “He encouraged us to get up in the morning ready to take on the day and not to hit the snooze button on life.”

“I really like what he said about staying motivated on the inside,” said Spc. Christiana Howard, a human resources specialist with TOG. “Meaning, that if you aren’t motivated on the inside it is likely to show on the outside and effect our team. He stressed the importance of teamwork.”

Next, service members were given a special tour of the Redskin’s training facility.

During the tour, guests were given exclusive access to the training facility and observed the team during a private practice session.

“It was great to get to witness the hard work the players put into their training,” said Spc. Amia Lawrence, a human resource specialist with TOG. “This is something that most people don’t get the privilege to experience and I am grateful.”

“The players love events like this,” said Wright. “They see the men and women in uniform as the professionals they are and the just want to show their appreciation in any way that they can.”

Following the practice, service members had the opportunity to get memorabilia autographed and take photographs with the players.

“I really enjoyed getting the chance to meet the players,” said Lawrence. “My family and I are all really big fans of the Redskins, so I’m really here representing for all of them.”

The event was effective according to Wright.

“I think that today was a successful experience for everyone involved,” said Wright. “We at USAA I just want to extend our sincere appreciation to all service members and veterans.”

Eligibility for Redskins Salute includes all active duty service members, members of the National Guard and Reserves, and military veterans, from all branches in the U.S. military. Individuals interested can join free of charge by visiting www.redskinssalute.com.

My journey through ROP week two

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Soldiers new to 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) practice stationary rifle manual positions April 20, 2017 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. This is part the Regimental Orientation Program, a three week hands-on-developmental training for new Old Guard Soldiers. (U.S. Army photos by Spc. Kristian Mack)

Story by Sgt. Nicholas Holmes

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON, 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 (Old Guard) at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

With the first week behind me, I was excited to begin the second portion of the ROP training.

“The purpose of week two is to ensure that Soldiers are proficient in executing stationary rifle manual positions,” said Staff Sgt. Shay Lomas, noncommissioned officer in charge of week two training.

In order to advance from week two of ROP, we were required to pass an Army Service Uniform inspection, complete a 60-minute stand and properly execute the stationary rifle manual positions.

Like in week one, the 60-minute stand would require us to move from the positions of attention and parade rest as the instructors review our uniforms.

During the evaluation of the stationary rifle manual positions, instructors would assess how well we executed each command called by the proctor. We would need to complete the evaluation with no more than three mistakes.

I knew that this week was going to be more of a challenge for me. However, I was determined to stay optimistic.

On the first day, we learned each of the stationary rifle positions and how to properly move between each of them.

At first, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of commands and positions we were learning.

“For a lot of new Soldiers the most challenging thing is getting over their nerves,” said Lomas.

As each day progressed I began to understand what Staff Sgt. Lomas meant when he said this.

I needed to not only to be deliberate and swift with my movements, but also mentally.

As I began to remind myself to stay calm and focused, my execution of each command began to improve. However as I would make small mistakes, I found it more difficult to apply this concept.

On the morning of testing I was hopeful I would do well. I was confident in my uniform and less concerned about the 60-minute stand. Although, I still was not sure how I was going to do with the stationary rifle manual positions.

The test started with a 60-minute stand. Because I knew what to expect, I did not feel it was as difficult as the previous week.

After passing this portion of the evaluation, we were given time to review the stationary rifle manual position evaluation.

I ran through the commands with the instructor one last time. I was pleased with how I executed each of the commands. I felt that I would have passed if it were the actual evaluation.

Now I was ready, I felt I was going to pass for sure.

“Tighten up,” yelled Lomas, indicating the start of the evaluation.

I snapped to the position of parade rest.

“Old Guard, attention,” yelled Lomas.

I was doing great!

As Lomas yells “All heads, right,” I made a mistake by slightly turning my head before dropping it. I should have dropped head straight down.

My confidence seemed to immediately drain from me like water down a drain.

I competed the test. However, sadly I did not pass. I ended up making a total of five mistakes.

“For you today, it was your nerves,” said Lomas. “You got into your own head, but that happens. It is all about staying confident.”

Now, instead of advancing to week three I will repeat week two so I can improve these skills test again.

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.