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Specialty platoons of Old Guard maintain standards and tradition


NCO Journal staff report

Caisson Platoon, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: New Soldiers undergo training on a horseback riding style not used by the Army since 1948. Caisson Soldiers care for the horses and ceremonial tack and harness, maintain the ceremonial uniform of an Old Guard Soldier as well as drill, train and live with their horses until both qualify to accomplish Caisson Platoon’s mission of carrying a fallen comrade on a last ride to Arlington National Cemetery.

Continental Color Guard, Honor Guard Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: A tradition for the regiment, the five-man unit embodies the U.S. Army’s precision both nationally and internationally. The uniforms are replicas of the 1784-style infantry uniforms worn by the Old Guard’s predecessor, the 1st American Regiment.

Fife and Drum Corps, 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: Wearing replicas of the 1784-style infantry uniforms, the Drum Corps is the only unit of its kind in the Armed Forces. The musicians harken back to the days of the American Revolution.

Presidential Salute Battery, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: Equipped with 10 M5, 75mm antitank cannons mounted on the M6 howitzer carriage, the Salute Battery has a primary mission to render honors at military ceremonies. Ceremonies require a five-man staff and a two-man team for each gun.

Tomb of the Unknowns, Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: In 1948, the Old Guard assumed the post for the security of the tomb, following the unit’s reactivation in Washington, D.C. Only exemplary Soldiers serve as sentinels at the Tomb. While on duty, the sentinel crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in 21 steps. He faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps. The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute accorded to dignitaries in military and state ceremonies. As a gesture against intrusion, the sentinel always bears his weapon away from the Tomb. Sentinels wear the Army dress blue uniform, reminiscent of the color and style worn by Soldiers of the late 1800s.

U.S. Army Drill Team, Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: The precision drill platoon has the primary mission of showcasing the U.S. Army both nationally and internationally through routines with bayonet-tipped 1903 Springfield rifles. Standard Drill Team performances of the good-will ambassadors involve 19 Soldiers.

947th Military Police Detachment, 289th Military Police Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: This unit has assigned 24 military working dogs with a variety of skills such as patrol explosive detection dog, patrol narcotic detection dog and specialized search dog. The Soldiers under this detachment work closely with the Secret Service, sister military services and local law enforcement agencies. Also, Soldiers support missions for the president of the United States, vice president and foreign visiting dignitaries.

Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, A Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: Guard members wear Revolutionary War-era uniforms and display the weapons of the era.

Firing Party, 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment: The party is comprised of one Firing Party commander and seven Old Guard infantrymen who render final military honors through the precision of a three-volley salute. The seven infantrymen take commands from the Firing Party commander and execute as a single element until the salute is complete.

Source: oldguard.mdw.army.mil

(Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

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