Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Discussion in 'Military' started by MaggieMae, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. MaggieMae
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    MaggieMae Reality bits

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    [Forwarded to me by his wife, my nephew has been chosen for training to become one of the elite Honor Guard patrolling the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Goosebumps!]

    A JEOPARDY QUESTION NO ONE COULD ANSWER

    ARLINGTON CEMETERY

    On Jeopardy the other night, the final question was "How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns" ---- All three contestants missed it! --

    This is really an awesome sight to watch if you've never had the chance. Very fascinating.

    Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

    1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
    21 steps: It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is
    the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.


    2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
    21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1.

    3. Why are his gloves wet?
    His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

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

    5. How often are the guards changed?
    Guards are changed every thirty minutes,
    twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.


    6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
    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.


    Guards 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 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.

    Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

    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 Lewis {the boxer}
    Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy, the most
    decorated soldier of WWII and of Hollywood fame.


    In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "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 serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

    God Bless and keep them.
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  2. The Infidel
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    The Infidel EVIL CONSERVATIVE

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    Wow.... these are facts I did not know.

    Thanks for sharing!

    I looked up the about face part they perform before turning around. It is VERY deliberate.

    *The sentinel marches 21 steps across the black mat, past the final resting place of the Unknown Soldiers of WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

    *They then, with a crisp turn, the sentinel turns 90 degrees (not about face) to face the East for 21 seconds.

    *The sentinel then turns a sharp 90 degrees again to face North for 21 seconds. A crisp "shoulder arms" movement places the rifle on the shoulder nearest the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the tomb and any threat.

    *After the sentinel paces 21 steps North, turns and repeats the process.


    Amazing, the respect we show our fallen heroes :salute:
  3. Jeremy
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    Jeremy TRANSFER!!!

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    Really cool!!!! :clap2:
  4. ConHog
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    ConHog BANNED

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    That's awesome, and quite an impressive accomplishment. Congratulations to the young man.
  5. Sheldon
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    Sheldon Senior Member

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    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqZ-mkdp1H0"]YouTube - Changing of the Guard - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ose5Z3LajhE&feature=fvw"]YouTube - Unplugged: Guarding The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-dBwdeJSGo&feature=related"]YouTube - Changing of the Guard:Man Crosses rail gets yelled at![/ame]

    Very cool.
  6. ConHog
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  7. Sheldon
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    Sheldon Senior Member

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    I haven't, but would definitely like to see it one day.
  8. SFC Ollie
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    SFC Ollie Still Marching

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    I had the honor of having one of the "Old Guard" serve with me during my final Duty assignment. He went from the tomb to become a Drill Sergeant. Never have a worked with a sharper or more dedicated soldier.
    :salute:
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    ConHog BANNED

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    There are so many wonderful things to see in DC, but that has to be at the top of the list.
  10. The Infidel
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    The Infidel EVIL CONSERVATIVE

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    I want to go there so badly.... I want my kids to see it too.

    Its just so far away from Tx :frown: But I am going to get there as soon as I can.

    Its amazing the rules those men have to follow.... very inspiring indeed!
  11. pinqy
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    pinqy Senior Member

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    Mostly true, but some BS in this one...
    None of those are true...there's no set commitment to the Old Guard, though 2 years is a normal tour. Single junior enlisted live in barracks on Ft Myer, married soldiers and senior enlisted can live wherever they want. There are no off-duty restrictions on alcohol and no rules about swearing and there's no vow of silence or TV restriction etc. The Tomb Guard ID Badge can be taken away at any time, even from former soldiers for dishonorable conduct, but that doesn't mean drinking alcohol or swearing. Less than a dozen badges have been revoked.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  12. Trajan
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    Trajan conscientia mille testes Staff Member

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    back in the day,. I visited Arlington. Its an awesome experience and urge anyone who visits the DC area to try and make the trip, however since I went in 90, I have heard they ahve instituted restrictions due to 911 etc...

    I checked up on Audie, "Pappy" Boyington , ira hayes, Pershing etc....the pics are under glass so they are impossible to scan and post.........:sad:
  13. SFC Ollie
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    SFC Ollie Still Marching

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    The "barracks" under the tomb is actually nothing more than a ready room, where they can prepare for their duty taking "the Walk"
  14. Wry Catcher
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    Wry Catcher Silver Member

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    My wife and I took our oldest son to The District when he was a sophmore in high school. We visited Arlington, the White House, the Congress, Ford's Theatre and the monuments, the mall and the Supreme Court.
    When his brother turned 15 he and I took the younger son to the District (my wife took a week off from the boys) and visited the same sites plus the FBI, Printing and Engraving and the Holocust Museum. We also drove north to visit Gettysburg.
    I took both boys on the second visit to the Vietnam Wall and introduced them to several guys I served with, several I played ball with as kids, and several I attended Jr. High and High School with. It was a lifes lession, for all of us. I was surprised at how emotinally I reacted, especially in front of my sons.
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  15. Toome
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    Toome Active Member

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    Perhaps one of the most interesting facts I find about the Tomb of the Unknowns is how the sentinels essentially disobeyed orders. In 2003, when Hurricane Isabel hit the DC area, the sentinels were authorized to seek shelter from the storm.

    They refused.

    They continued their duties while the rest of the Washington DC area was evacuated in 100+ MPH winds and rain.

    The Tomb has been continuously guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since July 2, 1937.
  16. ClarisaSaunders
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    ClarisaSaunders Rookie

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    What an honor to be chosen! Very interesting facts. I wanted to plan a trip to D.C. I have never been, but my husband went when he was a boy scout. He informed me that we should start saving up money now and we will make the trip for the 2012 inauguration! Congratulations to your nephew!
  17. pinqy
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    pinqy Senior Member

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    While it got bad, the DC area was not evacuated...winds didn't get above 75 mph here. Bad, but not 100+. I'm trying to remember what it was specifically like at Arlington (I was detached to the Pentagon at the time), but I don't recall.
  18. Si modo
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    Si modo Senior Member

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    Aaaaaaaaaand, the audience must be standing during the change and the Sgt politely asks the audience to STFU during the change. And, when the guard just coming on duty to the tomb and the one just going off of duty and heading to the barracks along the public sidewalk, no one is allowed to cross their paths until they have reached the tomb and the barracks, respectively.

    It's chilling to watch. Last time I was there was the week before Memorial Day (to avoid the crowds). Will go again the week before Veterans Day, too.
  19. Big Black Dog
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    Big Black Dog Everybody's favorite doggie. Supporting Member

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    The people assigned to this duty are truly some of "America's best". It would be an honor just to be in their presence.
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  20. SFC Ollie
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    SFC Ollie Still Marching

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    It most certainly is.

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