Tag Archives: army

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.

Running for a Cause – Old Guard Soldier runs Army Ten Miler in honor of cousins

By Staff Sgt. Megan Garcia

Staff Sgt. Daniel Castanon joined more than 35,000 people who traveled to the nation’s capital, Oct. 20, 2013, to run the 29th annual Army Ten-Miler.  For Castanon, this year would mark his second time participating in one of the nation’s largest races. Although he came with the goal to top his previous race record, his ultimate drive to do better than the year before would be found in two names.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Castanon poses for a photo after completing the Army Ten-Miler Oct. 20.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Castanon poses for a photo after completing the Army Ten-Miler Oct. 20.

“Mayleen Dilone and Justin Ortega” said Castanon, motor transport operator, 529th Regimental Support Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). “Those are the names of my two [9-year-old] cousins who were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Last year, initially, I wanted to run the race just for the experience but this year my motivation behind running it and wanting to do well was because of them.”

Castanon, who unfortunately is accustomed to having family members who are diagnosed with cancer, said receiving this kind of news was even more devastating.

“It shook up the family a little because it’s something we’re not used to dealing with,” said Castanon “When you get the babies diagnosed with diabetes it’s like you’re taking away a little bit of their childhood. They have to learn to eat differently and take insulin shots. It’s stressful and can become stressful on the parents and it’s really a life-changing thing for kids to have to deal with at this age.”

Although Castanon had already begun vigorously training for the ten-miler, he said knowing this made him push a little harder. He lost 25 pounds over a six-month period and changed his diet completely, focusing more on portion control and eliminating fast foods and sodas.

“This year it wasn’t just about finishing because it wasn’t just about me,” said Castanon. “I was running in my cousins’ names as a tribute to them. That is why I really wanted to push myself and not come in at the same time I came in last year.”

Castanon’s aunt, Hilda Aponte, said the family was ecstatic about his plans.

“We are a very big family and we are all trying to find a cure for this, so it meant a lot to our family to find out he wanted to do this in support of his two little cousins,” said Aponte. “We made shirts and everything to send to him. We wanted to let him know we were rooting for him all the way from New York.”

The day of the race, Castanon wore this shirt as a constant reminder of what he was running for and to let them know he stood with them.

“It was my way to say ‘Although I haven’t seen you all in awhile, I’m thinking of you and I’m supporting you. I didn’t raise a whole bunch of money for the cause but I wore this t-shirt with your names on it because I care’,” said Castanon.

By mile six, Castanon admitted he felt very fatigued but knew he couldn’t give up on himself or his family.

“I knew they were tracking this run and I wasn’t going to let them down,” said Castanon.

In the end, he would stay true to his word. Castanon met his goal at the finish line, beating his previous time by almost 11 minutes. He made sure to let his cousins know he accomplished what he set out to do.

“I spoke with my Aunt Hilda after the race and I told her to tell them I did the best that I could,” Castanon said. “I told her to tell them everyone who I passed that day will know their names and know that they are fighters too.”

Soldier’s Blog: Sgt. Robert Keifer

Keifer head shot-1

Sgt. Robert Keifer

Hello, I’m Sgt. Robert Keifer, and I’ve been asked to write about my work here in The Old Guard, and specifically about the Military District of Washington’s (MDW) Best Warrior Competition, which I competed in, and won, last week. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve here in our nation’s capital, as I’ve been thankful to serve previously in the 10th Mountain Division both at Fort Drum, N.Y., and Fort Polk, La.

I currently have the privilege of being a squad leader in the Presidential Escort Platoon, Honor Guard Company, where we spend our time preparing for and marching in ceremonies such as wreath layings at the Tomb of the Unknowns, arrivals for foreign dignitaries at the Pentagon, funerals for our veterans, parades, and the Presidential Inauguration. The preparations that we do to achieve the standards required for The Old Guard (read: perfection) include ongoing hours of uniform preparation, physical fitness training (going for a run past the monuments or through Georgetown are a treat and never cease to inspire me), practicing marching and rifle manual, which is what we’re doing when you hear “Right shoulder – Arms!” and other commands.

Each year a Soldier and an NCO are sent from each company in the regiment to compete for the title of “Soldier/NCO of the Year” at the Regiment’s Best Warrior Competition. Spc. Michael Sands and I were this year’s winners (he as Soldier of the Year, I as NCO of the Year) at the 3-day competition that included events ranging from land navigation to an obstacle course and an interview board. This competition wasn’t easy, and my fellow NCOs were great competitors.

The next level of competition in our region was the Military District of Washington’s Best Warrior Competition. Spc. Sands and I are also the winners for the MDW competition (though again, my fellow NCOs were great competitors), and we will go on to compete in October at the All-Army Best Warrior Competition in Fort Lee, Va. I do not take the task of representing The Old Guard lightly, and will spend the next couple months training harder than ever to bring credit upon The Old Guard. I give thanks and credit to God as “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Keifer participates in a ruck march during The Old Guard's Regimental Best Warrior Competition. He won among NCOs in the Regiment, and again against all NCOs from MDW. He will represent The Old Guard and MDW at the Army-wide competition in October.

Keifer participates in a ruck march during The Old Guard’s Regimental Best Warrior Competition. He won among NCOs in the Regiment, and again against all NCOs from MDW. He will represent The Old Guard and MDW at the Army-wide competition in October.