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 a sentinel hesitate after turning to begin the return walk and why?
The sentinel marches 21 steps across the black mat, past the final resting places of the Unknown Soldiers of World War I,
, and the crypt of the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War. World War II, Korea
With a crisp turn, the sentinel turns 90 degrees to face 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 moment, the sentinel paces 21 steps north, turns and repeats the process.
3. Why are tomb guards gloves wet?
Sentinel gloves are moistened to prevent them from losing their grip on the rifle.
4. Do Tomb guards carry their rifle on the same shoulder, all the time and if not, why not?
Tomb guards carry their rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After their march across the path, they turn as described above and move the rifle to the outside shoulder, away from the Tomb ("to signify that the sentinel stands between the tomb and any threat").
5. How often are the guards changed?
The Tomb has been continuously guarded
24 hoursa day, every day of the year. Tomb guards are changed every thirty minutes between 8 AMand 7 PMduring the period from early spring to early autumn ( April 1through September 30), and every hour between 8 AMto 5 PMthe rest of the year. At all other times (when the cemetery is closed), the guard is changed every two hours.
6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
Each soldier must be in superb physical condition, possess an unblemished military record and be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with a proportionate weight and build.
Other requirements of the Guard:
Each soldier must sign for 2 years of their life to guard the tomb, but often completes only have of this term.
Tomb guards may live either
on-base(at nearby ) or off-base in housing of their choosing. Fort Myer
Once the sentinel has completed his or her training, he or she is examined formally for proficiency in performing the duties and in knowledge of ANC. He or she must first pass a written examination of 100 questions about ANC and then be evaluated on proficiency in keeping watch at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Upon successful completion, the soldier is awarded a temporary Tomb Guard's Badge at a ceremony presided over by the company commander. The Badge is one of the Army's higher honors and can be taken away from the soldier if he or she does not continue to maintain the highest military standards.
The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is one of the least awarded badges in the Army, second only to the Astronaut Badge. Since the sentinels are held to such a high standard, if they ever do anything that is deemed behavior unbecoming a Tomb Guard or brings dishonor upon the Tomb, their badges may be revoked, even after [the sentinels] have left active duty military service.
Guard 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 shoes are standard issue military dress shoes. They are built up so the sole and heel are equal in height. This allows the Sentinel to stand so that his back is straight and perpendicular to the ground. A side effect of this is that the Sentinel can "roll" on the outside of the build up while walking down the mat. This allows the guard to move in a fluid fashion. If done correctly, their hat and bayonet will appear to not "bob" up and down with each step. It gives them a more formal and smooth look to their walk, rather than a "marching" appearance.
The soles have a steel tip on the toe and a "horseshoe" steel plate on the heel. This prevents wear on the sole and allows the Sentinels to move smoothly during their movements when turning to face the Tomb and then back down the mat.
A Tomb guard's behavior is not so stringently regulated that he is prohibited from speaking to anyone like in Old Guard with a monastery. Guards may do whatever they want during their off-duty hours. But since any soldier wishing to become a sentinel must undergo rigorous training, including several hours a day of marching, rifle drill and uniform preparation, and every tomb sentinel is expected to be completely versed in the history of both the tomb and of Arlington National Cemetery (including knowing how to find the graves of all the prominent person buried in the cemetery), they don't necessarily have a lot of free time to devote to recreational activities.
Among the notables are:
Although serving as President of the United States qualifies one to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, only two former Presidents are interred
there — WilliamHoward Taft and John F.Kennedy
Joe Louis "The Brown Bomber", Heavyweight Champion of the World between 1937 and 1949, is the boxer interred at
. Although Joe Louis served in the Army during Arlington National Cemetery World War II, he did not meet the technical requirements for burial at ; he is interred there because President Reagan waived the requirements when Louis died in 1981. Arlington
Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy,
the most decorated soldier of WWII,
Every guard spends five hours a day getting his
uniform ready for guard duty.
ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD,
AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.
In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching
Washington, DC, our 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. US
The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.
GOD BLESS AND KEEP THEM!
We can be very proud of our young men and women in
the service no matter where they serve.