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Posted on 04/28/2004 5:20:41 PM PDT by SandRat


Interesting facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Sentinels of the Third United States Infantry Regiment "Old Guard"

Q: How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?

A: 21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

Q: How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?

A: 21 seconds, for the same reason as answer number 1.

Q: Why are his gloves wet?

A: His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

Q: Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time, and if not, why not?

A: No, he carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

Q: How often are the guards changed?

A: Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

Q: What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?

A: For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10" and 6' 2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30".

Other requirements of the Guard:

They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. They cannot swear in public FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way.

After TWO YEARS, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

The first SIX MONTHS of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame. Every guard spends FIVE HOURS A DAY getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

The Sentinels Creed:

My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted. In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter. And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection. Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. It is he who commands the respect I protect. His bravery that made us so proud. Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.

More Interesting facts about the Tomb of the Unknowns itself:

The marble for the Tomb of the Unknowns was furnished by the Vermont Marble Company of Danby, Vt. The marble is the finest and whitest of American marble, quarried from the Yule Marble Quarry located near Marble, Colorado and is called Yule Marble. The Marble for the Lincoln memorial and other famous buildings was also quarried there.

The Tomb consists of seven pieces of rectangular marble: Four pieces in sub base; weight Â- 15 tons;

One piece in base or plinth; weight Â- 16 tons;

One piece in die; weight Â- 36 tons;

One piece in cap; weight Â- 12 tons;

Carved on the East side (the front of the Tomb, which faces Washington, D.C.) is a composite of three figures, commemorative of the spirit of the Allies of World War I.

In the center of the panel stands Victory (female).

On the right side, a male figure symbolizes Valor.

On the left side stands Peace, with her palm branch to reward the devotion and sacrifice that went with courage to make the cause of righteousness triumphant.

The north and south sides are divided into three panels by Doric pilasters. In each panel is an inverted wreath.

On the west, or rear, panel (facing the Amphitheater) is inscribed:


The first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a sub base and a base or plinth. It was slightly smaller than the present base. This was torn away when the present Tomb was started Aug. 27, 1931. The Tomb was completed and the area opened to the public 9:15 a.m. April 9, 1932, without any ceremony.

Cost of the Tomb: $48,000

Sculptor: Thomas Hudson Jones

Architect: Lorimer Rich

Contractors: Hagerman & Harris, New York City

Inscription: Author Unknown

(Interesting Commentary)

The Third Infantry Regiment at Fort Myer has the responsibility for providing ceremonial units and honor guards for state occasions, White House social functions, public celebrations and interments at Arlington National Cemetery and standing a very formal sentry watch at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The public is familiar with the precision of what is called "walking post" at the Tomb. There are roped off galleries where visitors can form to observe the troopers and their measured step and almost mechanically, silent rifle shoulder changes. They are relieved every hour in a very formal drill that has to be seen to be believed.

Some people think that when the Cemetery is closed to the public in the evening that this show stops. First, to the men who are dedicated to this work, it is no show. It is a "charge of honor." The formality and precision continues uninterrupted all night. During the nighttime, the drill of relief and the measured step of the on-duty sentry remain unchanged from the daylight hours. To these men, these special men, the continuity of this post is the key to the honor and respect shown to these honored dead, symbolic of all unaccounted for American combat dead. The steady rhythmic step in rain, sleet, snow, hail, heat and cold must be uninterrupted. Uninterrupted is the important part of the honor shown.

Recently, while you were sleeping, the teeth of hurricane Isabel came through this area and tore hell out of everything. We had thousands of trees down, power outages, traffic signals out, roads filled with downed limbs and "gear adrift" debris. We had flooding and the place looked like it had been the impact area of an off-shore bombardment.

The Regimental Commander of the U.S. Third Infantry sent word to the nighttime Sentry Detail to secure the post and seek shelter from the high winds, to ensure their personal safety.


During winds that turned over vehicles and turned debris into projectiles, the measured step continued. One fellow said "I've got buddies getting shot at in Iraq who would kick my butt if word got to them that we let them down. I sure as hell have no intention of spending my Army career being known as the damned idiot who couldn't stand a little light breeze and shirked his duty." Then he said something in response to a female reporters question regarding silly purposeless personal risk... "I wouldn't expect you to understand. It's an enlisted man's thing." God bless the rascal... In a time in our nation's history when spin and total b.s. seem to have become the accepted coin-of-the-realm, there beat hearts - the enlisted hearts we all knew and were so damn proud to be a part of - that fully understand that devotion to duty is not a part-time occupation. While we slept, we were represented by some damn fine men who fully understood their post orders and proudly went about their assigned responsibilities unseen, unrecognized and in the finest tradition of the American Enlisted Man. Folks, there's hope. The spirit that George S. Patton, Arliegh Burke and Jimmy Doolittle left us ... survives.

On the ABC evening news, it was reported recently that, because of the dangers from Hurricane Isabel approaching Washington, DC, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They refused. "No way, Sir!"

Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

Very, very proud of our soldiers in uniform

KEYWORDS: oldgaurd; soldier
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To: gunnygail

Army pukes? C’mon, this is Veteran’s Day.

21 posted on 11/11/2009 12:11:05 PM PST by smokingfrog (Well, are you gonna draw those pistols or whistle Dixie? Spit!)
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To: SandRat


22 posted on 11/11/2009 4:50:21 PM PST by Verbosus (/* No Comment */)
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To: SandRat


23 posted on 11/11/2009 6:26:47 PM PST by LomanBill (Animals! The DemocRats blew up the windmill with an Acorn!)
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To: SandRat
They cannot swear in public FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES ...I sure as hell have no intention of spending my Army career being known as the damned idiot who

The soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns are wonderful heros and are a special breed apart. However, there seems to be a bit of mythology surrounding them. I don't believe they never ever drink alcohol either.

Just sayin'

24 posted on 11/12/2009 3:14:09 AM PST by Jemian (Withold treatment of Hasan. Give him "Granny's Blue Pill". The Death Panel has spoken.)
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To: smokingfrog

I was a member of The Old Guard (1980-1983) and my brother retired from the Marines after 22 years of service with them, including tours with Marine Recon. Whenever we would jokingly tease each other about branches of service I was always able to get his goat by simply reminding him that when you ask special ops Marines where they got their training you inevitably hear ‘I went to Army Airborne School, Army Ranger School, Army Special Forces School, Army Jungle School’ etc... Of course, this is besides any special training they recieve from the Marine Corps itself. He would laugh and admit to the truth of my statement. So behind every bad-ass Marine, a branch I have great respect for, there are usually Army schools of one type or another which have trained him at some point. So much for ‘Army pukes’.

25 posted on 03/11/2010 8:23:38 AM PST by LazarusUnbound ( Army pukes?)
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To: Hillarys Gate Cult

When I was a ‘new-dick’ (a new guy in The Old Guard [TOG]), A few of us went out and had a few drinks. One guy couldn’t handle his juice . We went to use the men’s room at the same time and for some reason he punched the wall, putting his hand through the dry-wall and into some chicken coop wire behind it. He scratched up his right hand pretty good and broke a finger. The next morning I was called into the 1st Sgt’s office and he demanded to know exactly what happened with that soldier the previous night. Well, he already knew all about it but wanted to hear it from an eye-witness. He was POed to put it mildly. Giving him a BS story would only have put me in the hot water too so I told him the truth. This wasn’t one of those situations where you can cover for the other guy. After I told him what happened he asked me if that was it. I said “Yes, 1st Sgt!” He had this man’s papers on his desk, and after I answered him it took him no more than 1 second to stamp the papers ‘REJECTED’. The next day the soldier had orders and was on a plane headed to his original post. (FYI- most Old Guard soldiers are recruited out of Infantry School. Their assignment orders get changed to The Old Guard. You get sent back to your original assignment if you don’t cut the mustard.) That soldier’s total time in TOG? 3 days! He was lucky not to be prosecuted for willfully damaging himself.
As far as Leavenworth is concerned, I often heard that threat hung over everyone’s head myself but never saw it exercised for a ceremonial failure. That would take something like throwing the flag into a widow’s face or something of a grossly negligent nature. The one circumstance I believe that would have provoked a Leavenworth sentence generally would have been disrespect to the flag by allowing it to touch the ground. An OG soldier is expected to throw himself between the flag and the ground if necessary- no excuses. That being said, Old Guard ceremonial standards and the standards in general are unbelievably high. No ‘ragbags’ allowed! On a daily basis Old Guard soldiers are inspected to a standard that most soldiers will only see maybe once a year for a major inspection. Your teacher was accurate when he noted that some things that are glaringly wrong to an Old Guard soldier wouldn’t even be noticed by the regular joes. If an OG soldier eventually goes to another unit and he doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb because of intelligence and uniform appearance standards then something is very, very wrong. The presence of a former OG soldier should result in the standards of that unit going up.
As far as I know of, The Old Guard is the only unit that sends out recruiters within the Army to find new members. When I was recruited they were looking for people who scored high on the ASVAB test and who were volunteering for other elite units such as Rangers, Special Forces and Airborne. They search out people who are in the top 1% of the Infantry. Every new-dick that arrived with my bunch had those qualifications. Once in the unit you may even be offered the opportunity to become an officer by attending OCS or the US Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) prior to being sent to West Point. That is the caliber of the men in TOG. I hope that I gave you a little more insight into the unit.

26 posted on 03/11/2010 8:26:11 AM PST by LazarusUnbound ( standards.)
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To: SandRat


27 posted on 05/31/2010 8:49:09 AM PDT by N8VTXNinWV
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To: smokingfrog

Absolutely! I agree smokingfrog.

28 posted on 11/11/2010 3:22:41 PM PST by MSGwife
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To: MSGwife

Looks like this thread got revived after laying dormant for a year.

God bless all our soldiers, past and present - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

(I wish they hadn’t moved the Coasties to Dept. of Homeland Security.)

29 posted on 11/11/2010 5:12:48 PM PST by smokingfrog (Because you don't live near a bakery doesn't mean you have to go without cheesecake.)
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To: mystery-ak

I served with William Charette HMC was a MOH receiptent who had the duty to escort three unknown from Korea and pick one to reside with the other two. As a Corpsman treating wounded Marines in December 1950 earned him that award. I was stationed with him on the U.S.S Triton for over a year before I realized he was a MOH. That happened during the change of command proceedings as everyone wore their medals. He considered that he received it because of those who died in that battle, not for anything he did.

30 posted on 08/27/2011 9:08:16 PM PDT by spookie
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To: mstork5

I don’t know if you’re still here, but thanks for the clarification.

31 posted on 08/27/2011 9:23:27 PM PDT by Grizzled Bear (No More RINOs!!!)
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Photos have emerged on Facebook of a lone Tomb Sentinel, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), walking his tour in humble reverence at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during Hurricane Irene in Arlington National Cemetery this afternoon. Members of The Old Guard have guarded the Tomb “every second, of every day regardless of weather or holidays” since April 6, 1948 (The Society of The Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier began the first 24-hour guard on July 2, 1937).
32 posted on 08/30/2011 5:44:54 PM PDT by mystery-ak (
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To: SandRat

Dear Mr. Robinson,

I read with interest and understanding your posting of “TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER (Interesting Facts).

But I found inconsistencies.
One is: Q: How often are the guards changed?

A: Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

Yet farther down the site someone has written:
They are relieved every hour in a very formal drill that has to be seen to be believed.

Farther on it is written:
They cannot swear in public FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES...

Farther still it is written:

One fellow said “I’ve got buddies getting shot at in Iraq who would kick my butt if word got to them that we let them down. I sure as hell have no intention of spending my Army career being known as the damned idiot who couldn’t stand a little light breeze and shirked his duty.”

I believe the above statement contains swear words.

Please correct me if I’m wrong and do not misconstrue my intent. During World War II I had 9 uncles in service - 4 uncles and 5 uncles-in-law. Three did not come back. One was in the 29th Infantry Division at Omaha. One was on Iwo Jima and one flew of the USS Yorktown in 1943-1944.

Finally, researching a book I was writing I spent a week at the National Archives. I found the time to go to Arlington National Cemetery and and watched the Guards and was deeply impressed.

33 posted on 05/28/2012 12:34:50 PM PDT by Harvard 76
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To: Harvard 76

The “Tomb Guard Society” site asserts facts that contradict some from the original post:

I get the feeling that Snopes is a little left leaning, but in any event they take issue with some of the facts as well:

34 posted on 08/05/2012 10:15:21 AM PDT by JeffB
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To: Severa
Just returned from visit to Tomb of Unknowns... Had to verbally correct two loud laughing couples to be respectful and silent. Even the visiting student groups were appropriately behaved. probably hippies from the sixties, same group who spit upon me when I returned from Vietnam!
35 posted on 04/05/2013 4:02:44 PM PDT by USMCreconn
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To: SandRat

One more BUMP to the pinnacle!

36 posted on 12/14/2013 8:29:25 PM PST by Thumper1960 (A modern so-called "Conservative" is a shadow of a wisp of a vertebrate human being.)
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To: leathermaskman

There are other discrepancies in this list. It says the guardian changed every 30 min...that is only from 4/1-9/30. From 10/1-3/31 it is every hour, and at night it is also every hour.

Just wanted to add my 2 cents!

37 posted on 01/17/2014 6:28:47 AM PST by dcw0524
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To: smokingfrog

“(I wish they hadn’t moved the Coasties to Dept. of Homeland Security.)”

Weren’t they part of the Treasury Dept or Interior before?

38 posted on 05/31/2014 4:05:08 PM PDT by Figment
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To: Figment

On 25 November 2002, President Bush signed HR 5005 creating the Department of Homeland Security. Soon after, Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania, was confirmed as the department’s first Secretary. On 25 February 2003, Transportation Secretary, Norman Mineta transferred leadership of the U.S. Coast Guard to Secretary Ridge, formally recognizing the change in civilian leadership over the Coast Guard and ending the Coast Guard’s almost 36 year term as a member of the Department of Transportation.

39 posted on 05/31/2014 4:35:47 PM PDT by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open (<o> ---)
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To: SandRat

Just found this site, and THANK YOU !!
My attention was called to the Dedication of the Sentries
to the Soldiers and Honorables buried at ARLINGTON.
I do not mean to be picky ....Please...but
You give Honorable mention to “ Joe Lewis” the Boxer...
You mean “JOE LOUIS the Boxer.”

40 posted on 06/09/2014 8:49:49 PM PDT by billzet ( bill zet)
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