Blizzard won’t stop guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns from doing their duty

| January 23, 2016

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, volunteer members of the Army’s 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment stand as silent sentinels guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns. Through the brutal heat of a Washington summer or, like this weekend, a record snowfall and blizzard, the men of “The Old Guard” perform their duty with unmatched precision.

Anyone who has ever watched them pacing back and forth in front of the Tomb, their granite faces never changing expression, the click of their heels, their rifles expertly handled, cannot forget the emotional solemnity of the occassion.

There will be no one to watch the changing of the guard. But while the Old Guard is a ceremonial unit, its members are there not to perform. They are there to remind us of all those who have given their lives in defense of the United States – especially “an American soldier known but to God.”

This tweet from the Old Guard Twitter account shows them to be men of few words:

Tomb Blizzard

The men of the Old Guard probably reject all the fuss being made of them standing guard in a blizzard. But I am wondering what they are thinking as they parade in the biting wind and snow. Do they recall the stories about Valley Forge in the winter of 1777, when Washington’s Continentals were shivering and starving during a brutal winter? Or perhaps they remember hearing about the stand made by the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, when, low on food, medical supplies, and ammunition, they stood their ground against two crack German divisions in trenches hacked out of the frozen ground?

But that’s probably a fanciful notion made up by an ignorant civilian. They are probably thinking the same thing they always do when performing their duty: “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.”

Written by Rick Moran at American Thinker

Category: Who knows

Comments (28)

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  1. HMCS(FMF) ret. says:

    God Bless them for the job that they do… in all weather conditions.

  2. Poetrooper says:

    Jonn, sorry I didn’t make myself clear. That piece is not my work but rather that of Rick Moran, one of the writer-editors at American Thinker. Considering all the comments here about the weather conditions, I thought TAH readers would appreciate it.

    One of the commenters at American Thinker mentioned that my junior senator, Tom Cotton, was a platoon leader in the Old Guard, one more reason to admire him.

    Sorry for the mix-up regarding authorship.

  3. nbcguy54ACTUAL says:

    1st General Order.

    Relevant regardless of location, weather or mission.

  4. OWB says:

    Most of us who served understand why they are there and what they are thinking. The opinions of others really don’t matter much.

    Somebody said whenever it was that your true character is what you do when no one is watching. Figure these guys would prefer that they be left alone to do their duty.

    Bless them all. With many thanks for doing what they do on behalf of the rest of us no longer able to do more than wish we could walk with them. They know that we are with them in spirit.

  5. LIRight says:

    Ironically I sent a link from the Weasel Zipper blog at 4:30 this morning about the Old Guard 3rd Infantry Regiment to a bunch of Vets I know.

    I wrote in the email; “This morning I’m warm, drinking a hot cup of coffee, up early out of a nice warm bed at 2:45, snowing like hell….and I have no complaints.”

    The Old Guard, symbolic and clearly representative of all US Military.

    More irony…..I just made another cup of coffee and I’m typing this in my warm living room on my laptop.

    God Bless them all!

  6. 20thEB67 says:

    Dedicated. Strong. Patriots. Thank You.

  7. The Commentor' Formerly Known as MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

    Winters 2001, 2002 and 2003 were toughs one for many war fighters and their families. While most engaged or prepared for war, I was mobilized to DC (not pleased, but someone had to do it).

    One particularly nasty storm hit and I walked from my swanky per diem apartment in Crystal City to Arlington National Cemetary, trudged across through snow and ice, taking in the solumn beauty and arrived at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

    As I stood at silent attention and observed the Old Guard member on watch for about fifteen minutes, I swelled with pride and deep satifaction. I rendered a hand salute and held it for several minutes as I saluted the Old Guard and every Unknown.

    He stopped, turned towards me. Snapped me a “present arms” at lightning speed and he returned to his appointed rounds.

    I left there prouder than I had ever felt knowing that war was here and other battles were close at hand.

    I love our military institutions, all branches, the traditions and most importantly … the why of what we do.

    • Sj says:

      Damn, something got in my eye or maybe its hay fever? Nah, it was that eloquent, moving, post along with the others.

    • LIRight says:


      You write some pretty profound stuff at times, but honestly this your best, IMHO.

      I’m with Sj.


    • Eden says:

      Speechless. That was beautiful.

    • B Woodman says:

      Got dusty in here all of a sudden. What? Me? Cry? Never. (wipes away tears).
      (softly, reverently, quietly)
      hooah, Old Guard, hooah.

    • Thunderstixx says:

      My Squad Leader at Ft Wainwright was a former member of the Third ID and a former Guard at Arlington.
      One thing for certain, you damn sure better look straight if you were not in the field, every day too.
      I had a lot of respect for Sgt Neely.
      Thank you Sgt wherever you are…

    • Nonner says:

      That made the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. Outstanding.

  8. Green Thumb says:

    TOG, baby!!

    Way to represent!

    “But while the Old Guard is a ceremonial unit, its members are there not to perform.”

    Uh…yes and no.

    They are still an Infantry “Regiment” with a real world mission and IN training obligations.

  9. Sj says:

    I think I recall that a member of the TAH Cadre (h/t Chevy) was a Tomb Guard in the past? I forget who.

  10. Parachutecutie says:

    The Tomb Guards are amazing. I was once told by an officer of TOG that, in inclement weather, the Tomb Guards could (key word) choose to stand guard inside the guard shack during each of their shifts. However, I don’t think any of them have. What a testament to them.

    Also, without taking anything at all away from the Tomb Guards, please also remember the Caisson Soldiers. Every Monday through Friday no matter the weather or temps (exception being lightning and icy roads because of the wagons) they conduct funerals all day long. They are on those horses, exposed to the elements for hours at a time.

    The Old Guard folks are pretty darn special in my opinion.

    • sj says:

      Amen. They took my beloved Bro to Valhalla in the most amazing way possible. I tremble thinking of it. They have buried so many of my Army buddies, including one that was awarded a DSC.

      A few years later my beloved bride of 30 years passed in her sleep. Since I plan to be planted there, she was interred there. I expected nothing from anyone, especially the Old Guard since she was “just a dependent”. She was cremated so we left the Center to the nearby grave site. I expected nothing from Arlington. And then there was an Old Guard CPT and 2 Sergeants facing me on the path near her final resting place. They saluted me and took her urn to graveside in such a respectful way.

      As MCPO alluded so eloquently on another thread, I’ve never been so proud and humbled to have been so honored to serve in the US Military.

  11. Ex-PH2 says:

    When I see these Soldiers, I also see police, firefighters, and paramedics going out in any weather to do their jobs, period.

  12. missilefire says:

    There’s a good duffle blog article with that pic

  13. Jarhead says:

    During the winter of ’66 or ’67 I was one of many who found themselves on Con Thien. You could see your breath in the air, and after a hot and humid summer, it seemed like Alaska. We all learned to sleep with the old horsehair woolen blankets with a poncho over it to retain the heat. At night, sitting guard duty for two hours in the midst of a cold and very black rain, you could not see one foot out in front of you.
    Reading this story causes me to rethink our supposed misery. On second thought, it was NOTHING at all, just a mere inconvenience.
    These men show dedication and honor that all of hope we can muster personally. Given the choice to do their job in my early days, I’d probably laughed at it and made jokes about it. As I get older, it becomes easier to reflect and realize what an idiot I was back in those days. Rather doubt I’d have had the dedication to that. Character, especially when younger, is hard to find in every man.
    May God bless these gentlemen and keep them safe and comfortable as possible for a thankless job. S F

  14. Steve Hrr says:

    Being a total disabled Vietnam Veteran I and my wife are going to share a grave site at the SW Va Veterans Cemetery in Dublin. Not Arlington but we can mingle with my comrades in arms for eternity.
    Been to Arlington, do not like crowds so I went alone and for a purpose to show respect and honor to those fallen. The tourists and sight seers be damned.
    The Members of the Old Guard epitomize what I feel are the real heroes and are so dedicated to their duty. I was amazed, proud, emotional and in awe of them.Bless them all past/present and future.

  15. Semper Idem says:

    Well…the Tomb Guards might call it just doing their duty, but I say those guys are awesome for doing what they do all day, every day…no matter what. Not that it really matters what I think, you understand…but I still have great respect for those men. We all should.

  16. They are men of honor.

  17. David says:

    Back in about 1980 our best friends were a couple from California- she was stationed at Ft. Meade and he was in the Old Guard. Being from southern California, they knew dick about driving in the snow, so during a bad storm she called me to help her drive down and pick him up. He couldn’t drive in the snow…but damn well walked his tour in it. (He is actually in the movie “Gardens of Stone” – most of the extras in that movie were actual Old Guard guys who got a big kick out of meeting James Caan and James Earl Jones, he said.)