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May 27, 2006 10:55 am

#ffffff" face=Verdana color=#000080 ptsize="12" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">Tomb of the Unknown Soldier#ffffff" face=Verdana color=#0000ff size=4 ptsize="14" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">


1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the
tomb of the Unknowns and why? #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#000080 size=3 ptsize="12" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">

21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the
highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary. #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#0000ff size=4 ptsize="14" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">



2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his
return walk and why? #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#000080 size=3 ptsize="12" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">

21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1 #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#0000ff size=4 ptsize="14" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">



3. Why are his gloves wet?

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the
rifle. #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#0000ff size=4 ptsize="14" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">



4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time
and if not, why not? #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#000080 size=3 ptsize="12" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">

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. #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#0000ff size=4 ptsize="14" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">




5. How often are the guards changed?

Guards are changed every thirty minutes,
twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#0000ff size=4 ptsize="14" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">



6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to? #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#000080 size=3 ptsize="12" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">

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 #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#000000 size=3 ptsize="12" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">or smoke #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#000080 size=3 ptsize="12" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">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.

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.




ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD, AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM. #ffffff" face=Verdana color=#000080 size=3 ptsize="12" family="SANSSERIF" back="#ffffff">

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.

May 28, 2006 12:44 am

I have seen this before, but have not been able to verify it's veracity.  Can anyone confirm?  Links?  Sources?

May 28, 2006 1:19 am

Very interesting...thanks for the post

May 29, 2006 10:37 pm

This was taken from the FAQ that addressed the e-mail that has been

circulated. Some of the e-mail is fact, and some is fiction.



Enjoy.









How does the Guard rotation work? Is it an 8 hour shift?



Currently, the Tomb Guards work on a three Relief (team) rotation - 24

hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, 96 hours

off. However, over the years it has been different. The time off isn't

exactly free time. It takes the average Sentinel 8 hours to prep his/her

uniform for the next work day. Additionally, they have Physical Training,

Tomb Guard training, and haircuts to complete before the next work day.



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.



How long does the Sentinel hesitate after his about face to begin his

return walk and does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time,

and if not, why not?



He does not execute an about face. He stops on the 21st step, then turns

and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds. Then he turns to face back down the

mat, changes his weapon to the outside shoulder, counts 21 seconds,

then steps off for another 21 step walk down the mat. He faces the Tomb

at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats

this over and over until he is relieved at the Guard Change.



Why are his gloves wet?



His gloves are moistened to improve his grip on the rifle.



How often are the Guards changed?



The Guard is changed every thirty minutes during the summer (April 1 to

Sep 30) and every hour during the winter (Oct 1 to Mar 31). During the

hours the cemetery is closed, the guard is changed every 2 hours. The

Tomb is guarded, and has been guarded, every minute of every day since

1937.



Is it true 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.



No, this is a false rumor. The average tour at the Tomb is about a year.

There is NO set time for service there. The Sentinels live either in a

barracks on Ft. Myer (the Army post located adjacent to the cemetery) or

off base if they like. They do have living quarters under the steps of the

amphitheater where they stay during their 24 hour shifts, but when they

are off, they are off. And if they are of legal age, they may drink anything

they like, except while on duty.



Is it true they cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives?



Again, another false rumor.



Is it true after two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on

their lapel signifying they served as Guard of the Tomb, that there are

only 400 presently worn, and that the Guard must obey these rules for

the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin?



The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is awarded after the Sentinel passes

a series of tests. The Badge is permanently awarded after a Sentinel has

served 9 months as a Sentinel at the Tomb. Over 500 have been awarded

since its creation in the late 1950's. And while the Badge can be revoked,

the offense must be such that it discredits the Tomb. Revocation is at the

Regimental Commander’s discretion. But you can drink a beer and even

swear and still keep the Badge. The Badge is a full size award, worn on

the right pocket of the uniform jacket, not a lapel pin.



Are the shoes specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and

cold from their feet?



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 as he

walks down the mat. This allows him to move in a fluid fashion. If he does

this correctly, his hat and bayonet will appear to not "bob" up and down

with each step. It gives him a more formal and smooth look to his 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 Sentinel to move

smoothly during his movements when he turns to face the Tomb and

then back down the mat.



Then there is the "clicker". It is a shank of steel attached to the inside of

the face of the heel build-up on each shoe. It allows the Sentinel to click

his heels during certain movements. If a guard change is really hot, it is

called a "smoker" because all the heel clicks fall together and sound like

one click. In fact, the guard change is occasionally done in the "silent"

mode (as a sign of devotion to the Unknowns"). No voice commands -

every thing is done in relation to the heel clicks and on specific counts.

How many times will a Soldier be on duty during the shift?



Each Relief (team) has a rotation during the 24 hour work day. This

rotation is dependent on the number of Soldier-Sentinels who are

proficient enough to guard the Tomb. The standard is 3-4 qualified

Sentinels, 1-2 Relief Commander/Assistant Relief Commander, and 1-2

Sentinels in training. Generally, the Sentinel will be on guard duty for a

tour and have two tours off in between - then go out for another tour.

However, in extreme cases, Sentinels have been known to go back-to-

back for the entire 24 hour shift.



How do the Soldiers get to and from the quarters without being seen?



Most wear civilian clothes - although the short, tight haircuts tend to give

us away.



There is a small green shack next to the Tomb. What is it for?



"The Box" is used primarily during wreath-laying ceremonies for the

Sentinel to retreat to while flowers and Taps are being presented. There

also is a phone with a direct line downstairs to the Tomb Guard Quarters

- this is used in times of emergencies or just to notify the next shift of

something.



Has anyone ever tried to get past the Tomb guards, or attempted to

deface the Tomb?



Yes, that is the reason why we now guard the Tomb. Back in the early

1920's, we didn't have guards and the Tomb looked much different (see

attached picture). People often came to the cemetery in those days for

picnics during which time some would actually use the Tomb as a picnic

area (probably because of the view). Soon after, 1925, they posted a

civilian guard; in 1926, a military guard was posted during cemetery

hours; and on July 1, 1937, this was expanded to the 24-hour watch.

Since then, the ceremony has developed throughout the years to what we

have today. Today, most of the challenges faced by the Sentinels are

tourists who want to get a better picture or uncontrolled children (which

generally is very frightening for the parent when the Soldier challenges

the child).



What happened to the soldier that was in the Tomb from the Vietnam

War?



The remains of the Vietnam Unknown Soldier were exhumed May 14,

1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, DoD scientists identified the

remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot

down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. It has been decided that the crypt

that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain vacant.

(http://www.defenselink.mil/news/fact_sheets/vubackgr.htm)(h ttp://

www.dod.mil/topstory/tomb.html)



What is it like to guard in bad weather?



The guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (we call ourselves

"Sentinels") are completely dedicated to their duty of guarding the Tomb.

Because of that dedication, the weather does not bother them. In fact,

they consider it an honor to stand their watch (we call it "walking the

mat"), regardless of the weather. It gets cold, it gets hot - but the

Sentinels never budge. And they never allow any feeling of cold or heat to

be seen by anyone.



Do you guard in a blizzard or a bad thunderstorm?



YES, BUT the accomplishment of the mission and welfare of the Soldier is

never put at risk. The Tomb Guards have contingencies that are ready to

be executed IF the weather conditions EVER place the Soldiers at risk of

injury or death – such as lightning, high winds, etc. This ensures that

Sentinels can maintain the Tomb Guard responsibilities while ensuring

soldier safety. It is the responsibility of the Chain of Command from the

Sergeant of the Guard to the Regimental Commander to ensure mission

accomplishment and soldier welfare at all times.



It was erroneously reported that during Hurricane Isabel, the Sentinels

were ordered to abandon their posts for shelter and that they refused. No

such order was ever given. All proper precautions were taken to ensure

the safety of the Sentinels while accomplishing their mission. Risk

assessments are constantly conducted by the Chain of Command during

changing conditions to ensure that soldier welfare is maintained during

mission accomplishment.



Do you guard all night long, even when the cemetery is closed?



The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, there has

been a Sentinel on duty in front of the Tomb every minute of every day

since 1937. And the Sentinel does not change the way he guards the

Tomb, even at night when there is no one around. The Sentinels do this

because they feel that the Unknown Soldiers who are buried in the Tomb

deserve the very best they have to give.

May 29, 2006 10:39 pm

The information is from:



http://www.tombguard.org/FAQ.html



Captain

May 29, 2006 11:06 pm

Thank you!