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.